In its latest report dated December 14, the French agriculture ministry puts the total number confirmed outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) at 15 in five regions, all in the southwest of the country – Dordogne (8 cases), Landes (4) and one each in Haute Vienne, Le Gers and Pyrénées Atlantiques.

Outbreaks reported recently to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) [include one outbreak caused by the H5N1 variant of the virus in Bosset in Dordogne at a farm with 1,070 ducks.

H5N1 was also confirmed at an HPAI outbreak in poultry recently at Les Billangues in Haute-Vienne.

ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, has confirmed that the H5N1 virus detected in France is of European origin and not from Asia.  It also gives thetwo most likelyhypotheses on the originof the infection as a low-pathogenic form of the virus that has mutated into a highly pathogenic form, most likely in poultry or possibly within the wild bird population.

The H5N9 variant of HPAI has been detected recently at Arroses in Pyrénées Atlantiques in a flock of 500 ducks and in a mixed flock of 21,060 birds at Hosarrieu in the region of Landes. In the latter outbreak, the first signs were sudden mortality in the guinea fowl.

At other premises in Doazit (Landes) and Manciet (Le Gers), the highly pathogenic form of the H5N2 virus was detected. In the former outbreak, 1,700 ducks were tested prior to transportation to the abattoir following a previous outbreak nearby. Abnormal mortality had been observed among the 8,300 ducks at the farm in Manciet.

As a result of increased surveillance, the low-pathogenic form of the H5N2 virus has been detected in duck flocks at Castelnau Tursan and Sainte Colombe in Landes and at Castelnau de Mandailles in Aveyron.

Asia: HPAI outbreaks reported in Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and China

So far in December, Vietnam has reported three new outbreaks of HPAI. The H5N6 subtype of the virus affected a backyard flock of 705 mixed poultry in Quang Ninh province in the north-east of the country and 4,000 quails in Quang Nam in central Vietnam. In addition, what is described as a backyard flock of 42,000 birds were affected in Ba Ria-Vung Tau in the south of the country; the H5N1 variant of the virus was identified as the cause of that outbreak.

OIE has received a report from South Korea about 3 outbreaks of HPAI in mid-November caused by the H5N8 virus at neighbouring farms in South Jeolla province. More than 70,000 ducks were affected.

Taiwan has reported two outbreaks dating back to September of 2015 – one in Chiayi county and one in Tainan city – both affecting goose flocks and lading to the death or destruction of 3,000 birds. The H5N8 virus was confirmed there.

In November, abnormal mortalities were observed at two poultry farms in Pingtung County, and in two abattoirs in Pingtung and Hualien counties, Taiwan. Samples sent to the National Laboratory (AHRI) were confirmed positive for the H5N2 subtype HPAI virus. Three flocks of native chickens and one of ducks were involved, a total of 26,878 birds. All animals on the infected farms and abattoirs were culled and the premises have been placed under movement restriction. Thorough cleaning and disinfection have been conducted after stamping out operation. Surrounding poultry farms within a three kilometer radius of the infected farms and abattoirs are under intensified surveillance for three months.

In its first HPAI cases since August, China has reported an outbreak at a farm with more than 5,800 peacocks at Huaihua in Hunan province in the second week of December. After 381 birds died, samples tested positive to the H5N6 virus and the rest of the flock was destroyed.

Further H5N1 outbreaks in Nigeria and Ghana

So far in December, Nigeria has reported three new casess of HPAI, all caused by the H5N1 variant of the virus. In the south of the country, one mixed poultry flock in Edo state and one of layer in Lagos state were affected, leading to the death or destruction of 4,950 poultry. The authorities report that enforcement of movements of birds/birds products from infected to non-areas remains problematic.

In Kaduna state in central Nigeria, 1,500 layer pullets died and a further 6,000 were destroyed in another outbreak just last week.

The Ghanaian veterinary authority has reported to OIE one outbreak of HPAI in mid-November in greater Accra, which affected a backyard flock of 600 chickens.