Ten new avian flu outbreaks reported in Italy

The Italian poultry sector’s battle with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which started earlier this year, shows no signs of abating, with a further 262,000 birds lost to the disease over the last 10 days alone. New outbreaks have also been confirmed in South Africa and Taiwan.

(Austin Alonzo)
(Austin Alonzo)

The Italian poultry sector’s battle with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which started earlier this year, shows no signs of abating, with a further 262,000 birds lost to the disease over the last 10 days alone. New outbreaks have also been confirmed in South Africa and Taiwan.

So far this year, the number of confirmed HPAI outbreaks linked to the H5N8 virus variant in Italian poultry has reached 69, according to the country’s health authority and research organization for animal health and food safety (IZSVe). The total has increased by 10 in the last week or so, with most of the new cases in the province of Brescia in Lombardy and a further outbreak in neighboring Bergamo.

The almost 262,000 poultry lost to the disease in these outbreaks have included five flocks of meat turkeys, two of broilers and two of meat ducks. A 49,000-strong laying flock in the Asti province of Piedmont is the most recent to have been confirmed with the disease. First signs of HPAI at the farm—where two of the five units are free-range—was an increase in mortality.

For the five most recent disease events, IZSVe reports the virus involved has been identified as a member of the H5 group.

Two new HPAI outbreaks in South Africa

Two farms in Western Cape Province are the most recent to be affected by outbreaks of HPAI, according to the report of the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Identified as outbreaks numbered 93 and 95, they involved 580 commercial ostriches at the end of September, and a flock of around 28,000 poultry of unspecified type in mid-October. The presence of the H5N8 virus variant has been confirmed at both locations.

Veterinary health agencies in Nigeria and Cameroon have reported to the OIE that that there have been no recent cases of HPAI in wild or domestic birds.

Taiwan reports HPAI outbreak in farmed geese

A commercial goose flock of 1,186 birds in Taixi in the country of Yunlin is the latest to be affected by HPAI of the H5N2 virus subtype, according to the official report to the OIE. All birds have been destroyed, the farm has been cleaned and disinfected, and farms within a three-kilometer radius will be subjected to intensive surveillance for at least three months.

South Korea remains on heightened alert for avian flu as the country’s agriculture ministry confirmed last week that an H5 HPAI virus had been detected in the droppings of wild birds near to the capital, Seoul. The pathogenicity of the virus is currently under investigation, reports Yonhap.

In related news from the same news agency, Vietnam is the latest country to lift its ban on imports of South Korean poultry. The trade—valued at US$25 million a year—was halted when HPAI hit South Korea’s poultry sector in November last year, and led to the culling of 33 million birds.

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