After an absence of 3 months, avian influenza has returned to South Korea in three apparently unrelated outbreaks. New outbreaks of highly pathogenic forms of the disease have also been reported in recent weeks in Vietnam, Taiwan, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.

The agriculture ministry in Seoul, South Korea, has confirmed that ducks at two farms in Naju and Gangjin have tested positive for avian influenza, reports news agency, Yonhap. A total of 14,800 birds are reported to have been culled in order to halt the spread of the virus, the type of which has not yet been revealed. The last outbreak of avian flu in the country was in June of 2015.

Avian influenza in Vietnam

Vietnam is battling high-path avian influenza on 2 fronts, according to reports submitted by the veterinary authority to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in recent weeks. Since the end of August, there have been 4 confirmed outbreaks caused by the H5N1 subtype of the virus. All were in village poultry flocks in the southern provinces of Vinh Long and Ninh Thuan, and Ha Tinh in central Vietnam. Following the first recent outbreak of avian flu caused by the highly pathogenic H5N6 virus in the north of the country in August of 2015, the veterinary authority in Hanoi reported a further outbreak in a backyard flock of 8,600 in the central province of Quang Nai.

Avian influenza in Taiwan

Also affected by 2 different highly pathogenic avian flu viruses is Taiwan. Since the start of September, the national veterinary authority has reported to the OIE an outbreak caused by the H5N2 virus affecting 23,200 native chickens in Yunlin county and one outbreak by the H5N8 virus that hit a duck flock of 7,000 birds in Chiayi county. According to Focus Taiwan, there has been a further new outbreak in the county of Pingtung, affecting 5,780 ducks. The authorities issued an alert at the start of September, warning farmers of the higher risks as the migration season starts and this has been exacerbated by recent heavy rainfall, which has added to sanitation problems on poultry farms.

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Outbreaks in Africa

Since the start of September, Nigeria has reported a total of 44 new outbreaks of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian flu, some of which date back to January. Early cases were in northerly states such as Katsina and Sokoto, which border Niger while Rivers, Lagos and Delta states have been affected in more recent outbreaks. One outbreak was detected in birds at a live market in Utako in Federal Capital Territory but in all, 235,000 birds were affected in these outbreaks. According to Daily Post on September 23, there has been a new outbreak in Lagos state, affecting 60,000 poultry.

A recent report in Business Day states that the greatest challenge posed by avian flu is an economic one: when the disease hit in 2007, people became afraid to eat poultry and so now is the time to communicate to the public the low risk to human health, according to the author.

Cote d’Ivoire has reported 6 new outbreaks of high-path H5N1 avian flu to the OIE, dating back to April of 2015. Three farms and three backyard flocks – a total of 7,428 birds – were affected in the states of Bouake and Abidjan.

Avian flu easing in other regions

Following previous birds flu outbreaks, the veterinary authorities in Germany and Belize have lifted earlier restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the avian flu virus. USDA reports that HPAI H5N2 events are now final, closed, and resolved in the following states: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.