Within the last few days, reports have been received by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Iraq, France and Taiwan, and the low-pathogenic form of the disease in Denmark. Officials are warning of further outbreaks in Ghana.

Avian influenza takes toll in Iraq

More than 2.8 million head of poultry in Iraq have been affected by an outbreak of HPAI since mid-June, the agriculture ministry in Baghdad has recently reported to the OIE. Two foci of infection were in the governorates of Baghdad and neighboring Wasit. All the outbreaks appear to have been on farms, in flocks ranging in size from 15,700 to 914,000 birds. Almost 513,000 birds died and the rest have been destroyed.

While the source of infection in the Iraqi flocks is unknown, the most recent previous outbreak was in May. The virus is yet to be fully typed but has been identified as an HPAI virus of the H5 family.

New cases of HPAI in France, Taiwan

A further outbreak of HPAI has been reported in France, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 80. Latest to be affected was a flock of 24,000 ducks for fattening at La Dornac in Dordogne, the 17th outbreak in this department. The infection was detected during heightened surveillance following another outbreak in the same area just two weeks previously and 400 meters away. The presence of the H5N1 subtype of the HPAI virus has been confirmed, and all the ducks have been destroyed.

In recent days, it has been reported that HPAI has returned to Taiwan after an absence of 2 months.

Since that report, which described 3 new outbreaks, there have been a further 2, bringing the total for the year so far to 43, according to Focus Taiwan.

First was in a flock of 500 geese in Hualien County, which were culled after officials detected the H5 avian flu virus during testing. Because the farmer had not reported an elevated level of mortality at the farm, he will be fined at least TWD50,000 (US$1,565), and will not receive compensation for his flock.

The same source subsequently reported that chicken carcasses testing positive for HPAI were found at a slaughter house in Kaohsiung. A total of 834 chicken carcasses were destroyed, and officials traced the birds to a farm in neighboring Pingtung County, where cleaning and disinfection were carried out.

In both cases, the H5N8 subtype of the virus has been identified.

Virus returns to Denmark

Following an absence of 3 years, avian flu has returned to Denmark. Subclinical infection with a low-pathogenic virus was detected during routine surveillance in a flock of more than 3,000 mallard ducklings bred for hunting at Brenderup in the municipality of Middelfart on the island of Funen, according to the official report to OIE. The presence of the H7N7 variant of the virus has been confirmed, and all the birds are scheduled to the destroyed today. The usual control zones have been set up around the affected premises.

According to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, the affected farm also had 50 geese and five hens with chicks, which will also be destroyed. There are no farms with susceptible birds within 1km but the farmer also keeps game birds at three other premises, which are now being tested.

Ghana on alert for new outbreaks

At a workshop organized by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), there was a stark warning that around 40,000 poultry in Ghana are at risk of contracting H5N1 HPAI, reports StarrFMonline.

Dr. William Amanfu, a Ghanaian consultant to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that the disease persists in some areas, and that new outbreaks could occur at any time as farmers are not heeding the advice about changing behavior and poultry husbandry.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture stated that there were 36 outbreaks of HPAI last year, leading to 26,000 birds dying ad further 76,000 destroyed. So far this year, 10,000 birds died in 13 outbreaks with a further 26,000 culled to prevent further spread of the disease.