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Avian flu Mexico
Photo by Andrea Gantz
on June 6, 2016

Avian flu returns to Mexico, Hong Kong, Niger

Avian influenza has led to the suspension of trading in Hong Kong’s live poultry markets, and the virus has been confirmed in poultry in Mexico and Niger

Routine surveillance of poultry flocks in Mexico has revealed a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infection of a large flock in Sayula in the state of Jalisco, according to an official report from the agriculture ministry in Mexico City to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

After 15 of the birds tested positive for the H7N3 HPAI virus, all 151,000 birds in the flock were destroyed. None showed any clinical signs of disease.

A total of 32 flocks have been affected by this HPAI virus in Mexico since the first reported outbreak in April 2015.

Hong Kong suspends live poultry markets

Festivities for this week’s Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong will be marred by the absence of fresh chicken.

Sales of live poultry have been suspended after samples of poultry droppings taken from a live bird market at Tuen Mun tested positive for the H7N9 avian influenza virus, reports The Standard. The samples had been taken on May 16 but the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced the result on June 4.

The source of the virus is uncertain.

“We know that, at present, the supply of live poultry from the mainland is at a very low level,” said Secretary for Food and Health, Ko Wing-man. “However, we still cannot make a 100 percent conclusion on the source of H7N9 virus in that particular specimen [tested].”

Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers' Association chairman, Tsui Ming-tuen, said no live poultry from the mainland had been imported before the suspension.

“There are several possibilities, such as the poultry farms were infected by wild birds or some live poultry was imported to Hong Kong illegally,” said Professor Paul Chan Kay-sheung, chairman of the Department of Microbiology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

If the supply is still suspended by Dragon Boat Festival, the trade would suffer huge losses, Tsui added.

One chicken wholesaler expressed concerns over the welfare of chickens held on local farms if trading in Hong Kong were to be suspended for as long as 3 weeks.

Avian flu returned to Niger

The West African country’s veterinary service has informed the OIE that the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was confirmed in a commercial layer flock near the capital city, Niamey, in February of 2016. All 86,000 birds at the farm are reported to have died.

Source of the infection is unknown but it seems possible it was linked to a previous outbreak in January. The latest reported outbreak is in the region of Tillabéri, which shares borders with Mali, Benin and Burkina Faso. 

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