A new variant of the H5N1 subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been spotted in the Netherlands, the Wageningen Bioveterinary Research Institute at Wageningen University reported on Thursday.
The variant was spotted in Renswoude in the central Netherlands. The variant is similar to the other versions of the H5N1 subtype which has been spreading in Europe and the Americas since 2021, but includes a new version of the PB1 segment of genes in the virus. The new PB1 segment seems to be the result of the virus mixing with a low pathogenic version of avian influenza, according to the research institute.
The new variant has also been spotted in several dead wild ducks and geese found in the Netherlands since November. It is unclear as of yet if the reassortment of the PB1 segment has changed any properties of the virus, such as pathogenicity, transmissibility, severity, etc.
The discovery of the new variant comes as avian influenza continues to spread across the Americas, Europe, and other locations around the world in a global outbreak that has continued almost without pause since 2021. The virus has affected tens of millions of birds and thousands of mammals across the world.
New case of bird flu found in Israel
A new case of H5N1 avian influenza was found in a Marbled teal in Yehud in central Israel on November 1, according to the Agriculture Ministry, marking the fourth case of the virus reported in Israel this season.
In Canada, Jennifer Provencher, a research scientist in the Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Health Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada referenced the ongoing bird flu outbreak in the country, telling CTVNews on Friday that “this particular H5N1 is a different beast than the previous ones that we have encountered…The more the virus is allowed to circulate, the more it’s allowed to evolve and change.”
“The H5N1 has caused such widespread mortality that I think we can pretty confidently say that within living memory, no avian influenza has affected wild birds in the same capacity,” added Provencher.