After a brief absence, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has returned to the Nepalese poultry sector, and a virus variant in Belgium previously considered to be mild has been officially recognized as serious enough that affected farmers can receive state support.

As recently as May 2019, the authorities in Nepal reported that the disease situation had been resolved, but two new H5N1 HPAI outbreaks have been reported by the agriculture ministry to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) over the past week.

First to be officially recorded was in a flock of almost 5,500 18-week-old broiler breeders at a farm in the Bhaktapur district of Bagmati after more than 1,500 of the birds died. The following day, the presence of the virus was confirmed after over 200 birds of a “backyard” flock of 900 died in the Rasuwa district of the same zone.

Taiwan’s veterinary agency has confirmed to the OIE an outbreak of HPAI linked to the H5N2 virus subtype, which had been reported to the local media the previous week. Affected was a flock of around 29,000 native chickens in Fangyuan in Changhua county.

Belgian government offers support to avian flu-affected farmers

Poultry farmers in Belgium whose flocks have been infected with an H3N1 avian influenza virus are to receive financial support from the government.

Previously, this variant had been regarded as one of low pathogenicity, and so such offers of state aid would have been regarded as illegal under OIE rules, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

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However, the country’s agriculture minister successfully argued that the virus is showing signs of a highly pathogenic type, and in June, the European Commission authorized Belgium to provide emergency aid to affected farmers.

Since April, the infection has hit at least 60 farmers in West Flanders, hitting mainly breeding farms, but also those with laying hens, turkeys, broilers, and ostriches, reports FAS. Direct losses are already estimated to exceed EUR10 million (US$11.4 million), with the loss of consumer confidence hard to quantify.

Low-pathogenic virus detected in Danish duck flock

Just one week after reporting an earlier situation involving an H7N7 low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) in Denmark “resolved,” the ministry of the environment and food has reported a new outbreak to the OIE.

The latest cases have been linked to an H5 LPAI variant, which was detected in a flock of 3,000 mallard ducks reared for restocking game at Fugelberg in the municipality of Nævsted on the island of Zealand. Source of the virus is unknown. It was detected as the result of active surveillance, and the birds had shown no clinical symptoms. At the time of the report, the flock was scheduled for culling.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.