In the Philippines, the number of confirmed outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI linked to the H5N1 HPAI virus serotype has risen to 12.

Based on official reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), these outbreaks have directly impacted around 83,200 poultry in three regions.

The country’s first cases linked to this virus variant were detected in early January. Cases were found in quail and ducks in two provinces of the Central Luzon region.

The latest to be reported were eight outbreaks involving more than 4,918 poultry. In seven of these, the species was identified as ducks. Affected was one commercial flock of almost 2,700 ducks, while the others were described as backyards, each comprising between 20 and more than 1,700 birds. The starting dates for these outbreaks were February 18-23.

Among these most recent outbreaks, two were in Bulacan and two more in Pampanga. Located in Central Luzon, these provinces were the location of the initial outbreaks. With new cases confirmed in Camarines Sur and Laguna, the infection has spread to two more regions, namely Bicol and Calabarzon, respectively. 

Philippines, Thailand step up controls

In the Philippines, provincial administrations are putting in place controls aimed at preventing the spread of the HPAI virus to their territories.

In northwestern Luzon in the Ilocos region, authorities in Pangasinan have banned the entry of all duck and quail products into the province. The ban will remain in place until March 31, according to the Philippines News Agency (PNA). Exceptions will be made for products accompanied by certificates stating the original source farm is free of the disease.

In the Western Visayas region, a 16-day ban is in place to prevent the entry of live birds, poultry meat and all poultry products into Negros Occidental, PNA reports. This is to protect the province’s poultry sector valued at 8 billion pesos (PHP; US$153 million).

At ports, airports and provincial borders in Negros Occidental, the same source reports that products worth millions of pesos have been seized by the authorities following the ban.

In Thailand too, authorities are warning poultry farmers about the risks of HPAI entering the country.

The Department of Livestock Development is tightening biosecurity protocols, reports Bangkok Post. The agency is also given guidance to flock owners on how to protect their birds, and urging them to report to officials any unusual symptoms or mortality in their poultry.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, officials have declared “closed” an outbreak series linked to the H5N8 HPAI virus serotype. Between June and December of 2021, OIE was notified of 27 outbreaks linked to this variant in village flocks in northern and southern provinces of the country. In total, around 44,200 poultry were directly involved in those outbreaks.

Four new outbreaks confirmed in Taiwan

Over the past week, Taiwan’s animal health agency has registered a further four outbreaks of HPAI with the OIE.

A total of almost 51,000 poultry at four farms have recently tested positive for the H5N2 virus serotype. This HPAI variant has been detected in Taiwan over recent winters.

The latest cases were identified in three flocks of native chickens, and one of meat ducks in the period February 5-15. All three premises with chickens were in Yunlin county, while Pingtung was the location of the infected duck flock.

Since the season’s first cases were detected in Taiwan during November, 25 flocks have tested positive for the virus. More than 36,000 birds have died, and almost 334,000 more have been culled to prevent the spread of infection.

HPAI confirmed in western Indian state

During the first 10 days of February, the H5N1 HPAI virus was detected at three poultry farms in Maharashtra. This serotype was last detected in this western state on September of 2020, according to the OIE notification.

Affected so far have been around 28,300 poultry, 1,376 of which died. The rest have been destroyed. Two of the outbreaks were in the district of Palghar, and one in Thane.

The OIE notification is confirmation of previous local media reports about cases of HPAI in Maharashtra. Based on official reports, the same virus serotype was detected in two districts in the southern state of Kerala in the last two months of 2021, as well as at one premises in the eastern state of Bihar during January.

A recent report from Business Standard does not indicate any further HPAI cases in India than those already recorded in Maharashtra.

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According to the CEO of an Indian animal heath company, bird flu is not expected to increase much in India. However, demand for vaccines against the disease will grow, he said.

The statement by the CEO of Hester Biosciences was reported by Zeebiz in late February.

Three further outbreaks in Nepal

Over the past two weeks, Nepal’s veterinary authority has registered a further three HPAI outbreaks in poultry with the OIE.

Each affected premises is described as a farm, and is located in the Central region of the country. Two were near to the capital, Kathmandu. Infections of the H5N1 HPAI virus serotype were confirmed in the period February 14-18. Affecting a total of around 12,800 poultry, the individual flocks ranged in size from almost 1,000 to 8,800 birds.

These latest cases bring Nepal’s total outbreak since mid-January to 12. Almost 37,000 poultry have been directly impacted at outbreak sites.

Avian flu in one more South Korea duck flock

At the start of this month, the country’s agriculture ministry confirmed one further HPAI outbreak in poultry.

Most recently affected by the H5N1 virus serotype was a duck farm in South Jeolla province with around 18,000 birds.

This was the first outbreak since February 22. According to the ministry, it provides evidence that the migration of wild birds to the north is not yet complete.

Latest outbreak brings the nation’s total in poultry since early November last year to 46. Of these, 23 were in ducks, and 14 in laying hens. Other outbreaks involved broiler chickens, native chickens, quail, and poultry breeders. Outbreaks have occurred across seven provinces/regions in the western half of South Korea.

Up to one month ago, numbers of birds directly affected by the disease was approaching 4.6 million.

Japan, Nepal report HPAI in wild birds

In Nepal, the first wild birds have tested positive for the H5N1 HPAI virus serotype for almost three years.

According to the official OIE report, 15 crows died suddenly around February 22 at a premises in the capital, Kathmandu.

Along with some other species, mass mortality of crows was also registered with the OIE by Japan earlier this month.

As well as 76 crows, other species have tested positive for the same virus variant since early January. Japan’s wild birds had been free of the infection since March of 2011. Also among the 83 cases detected in the country so far have been four swans, two eagles, and a buzzard.

Further human infections in China

There have been four new human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) in mainland China. This is according to the Centre for Health Protection, which is part of the Hong Kong government. Onset of these illnesses was in the period January 20-31.

At six years old, one of the patients — a girl — was much younger than the average for previous cases. Others were men between 35 and 48 years of age. All the patients came from different provinces — Fujian, Guangxi, Jiangsu, and Sichuan. A man from Fujian has died, while the others were described as being in a critical condition at the time of reporting on February 28.

All these cases had prior contact with domestic poultry, or had visited a live bird market. This suggests infected poultry as a likely source of the virus.

The latest cases bring the total in mainland China linked to this virus serotype since 2014 to 71.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.