In the last two weeks, the veterinary authorities in Ghana and Taiwan have reported new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses have been detected on poultry farms in South Africa and France.

Following a prolonged period without avian flu outbreaks, India and South Korea have declared they are free of the disease.

Asia: HPAI returns to Taiwan

Having battled HPAI caused by the H5N2 virus variant since January of 2015, Taiwan had reported no new cases for almost three months. Then, in mid-August, the disease struck again – in a backyard flock at Jianshi in the county of Hsinchu. All 508 birds died or were destroyed following confirmation of the infection.

Having notified OIE of a single outbreak of HPAI in July, Vietnam’s veterinary authority in Hanoi indicates there have been no new cases caused by the H5N6 subtype of the virus up to mid-September.

India has declared the country free of H5N1 HPAI. This follows a single outbreak of the disease at a large farm at Humnabad in the state of Karnataka in May this year.

A highly pathogenic form of H5N8 caused unusual mortality at a duck farm in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-Do in March of 2016, and the virus was detected in the same region in a backyard flock shortly afterwards. However, there have been no further cases since then, and the agriculture ministry declared the country free of the disease from mid-August. According to news agency, Yonhap, the agriculture ministry had carried out more than 11,000 tests of poultry farms across the country, and declared South Korea free of the disease only when all were negative for the virus.

New outbreaks in poultry in West, Central Africa

There have been five new outbreaks of H5N1 HPAI so far this month, according to reports from Ghana to the OIE. All were in small flocks, four of them described as “backyards.” Lekma in Greater Accra was the location of four of the outbreaks, with the fifth near a market in Kasoa in the Central state. In total, just over 1,100 birds died or were destroyed.

After an absence of about three months and just as poultry markets were reopening, HPAI returned to Cameroon at the end of August.

Low-pathogenic avian flu detected in France, South Africa

South Africa’s commercial ostrich sector first reported positive tests for the H5N2 subtype of the low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus more than two years ago. No clinical signs or mortalities have been noted in any cases. At the end of August, OIE received notification that the virus had been detected in almost 2,800 ostriches in a flock of 4,198 birds in Western Cape Province.

Avian flu has afflicted the poultry industry in south-west France since the end of 2015, mainly hitting ducks and geese. Outbreaks of HPAI have become less frequent in the meantime, the last one being in early August. However, surveillance has been on-going and in mid-September, poultry at a farm in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques tested positive for the H5N3 LPAI virus. All 6,000 birds were subsequently destroyed.