In recent weeks, new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported by the veterinary authorities in several Asian and African countries to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Three new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Ghana, Nigeria

The H5N1 variant of the HPAI virus has been detected following an outbreak in a village flock in the Central region in the south of Ghana during the third week of October. A mixed flock of 510 birds was affected, of which 34 birds died and the rest were destroyed.

Nigeria’s veterinary authority blamed poor biosecurity for five new H5N1 HPAI outbreaks at the end of October. The first were in a total of 6,157 laying hens at three locations in the same district of Rivers state in the south of the country. Later in October came another outbreak at a farm of 2,795 assorted poultry in the state of Ogun in the south-west of Nigeria, followed 2 days later by mortalities among 3,500 laying hens and chickens at another Rivers state farm. In each outbreak, the presence of the H5N1 subtype of the virus has been confirmed and all the birds at each farm that did not die have been destroyed.

Low-pathogenic flu virus detected in South African ostriches

The veterinary authority reported more than 6,000 cases among 13,486 ostriches at 11 different location in Western Cape Province that tested positive for the H5N2 low-pathogenic form of the virus between mid-August and early October. None of the birds is reported to have died or shown signs of the disease.

HPAI outbreaks continue in Vietnam

There have been 3 new outbreaks of HPAI cause by the H5N6 variant of the virus in Vietnam, the veterinary authority there has reported to the OIE. All were in backyard flocks in Quang Ninh province in the north-east, which borders China and in northerly region of Nam Dinh. More than 4,000 poultry died or were destroyed in these outbreaks.

No new cases of disease caused by the H5N1 HPAI virus have been detected since early October. On this basis, the event is described by Vietnamese officials as “resolved”.


South Korea targets duck sector to control HPAI

News agency, Yonhap, in South Korea has reported a number of HPAI outbreaks since late October.

At least 14 outbreaks of HPAI affecting more than 196,000 birds were confirmed by November 2. Because all the early outbreaks occurred in ducks, the government will revamp duck farm operations and step up monitoring to counter the spread of bird flu in the coming months, according to the news agency. Among the changes, duck farms in the Gwangju and South Jeolla Province must follow the “all in-all out” system for growing and shipping their birds, allowing effective cleaning between flocks. Furthermore, in order for additional checks to be made, all movements will be suspended at duck farms belonging to distribution companies that have reported two or more outbreaks since the middle of September.

There will also be changes to the Livestock Epidemic Prevention and Control Act that come into effect on December 23rd, requiring poultry distribution companies to better regulate quarantine guidelines for the duck farms from which they source their birds. Failure to do so will result in a fine of at least KRW10 million (US$8,820) and a halt to business operations. Duck farms that have repeated outbreaks will receive less government compensation for birds culled in future.

On November 4, Yonhap reported that South Korea plans to resume importing chickens from the U.S. and Canada later this month after no new outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in either country in recent months.  In 2014, South Korea imported 66,780 tons of chicken meat from the U.S., accounting for 54 percent of all imports that stood at 124,089 tons. No chicken meat was imported from Canada in 2014.

More HPAI outbreaks reported by Taiwan

A total of seven outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N2 variant of the virus at farms and slaughterhouses in five counties between September 9 and October 20, have been reported to OIE by the veterinary authority in Taipei. These affected ducks, native chickens, turkeys and geese – in all, almost 40,000 birds died or were destroyed.

Furthermore, Focus Taiwan reports heightened surveillance resulted in the culling of 11,000 healthy ducks and 7,000 healthy chickens in Yunlin county in the first week of November following the detection of the H5 virus, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture.