Avian flu outbreaks reported on three continents

There have been new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry in Bulgaria, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, and Vietnam, as well as in commercial ostriches in a new region of South Africa.

(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

There have been new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry in Bulgaria, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, and Vietnam, as well as in commercial ostriches in a new region of South Africa.

A recent HPAI outbreak in Egypt’s poultry sector has been confirmed, as reported previously by local media. The H5N2 virus variant was detected in 10 birds sampled at a duck farm in February, as part of a national surveillance program that includes testing prior to slaughter. According to the official report from the agriculture ministry to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), all 1,000 ducks at the farm in Dakhalia governorate to the northeast of Cairo have been destroyed. As all poultry samples taken within 9 kilometers of the outbreak have tested negative for the HPAI virus, the ministry has already declared the disease event to have been “resolved.”

There have been a further two outbreaks linked to the H5N2 subtype in Taiwan’s long-running battle against HPAI, according to the Council of Agriculture’s official report to the OIE. Latest to be affected were two flocks of native chickens. More than 850 birds died in these outbreaks — at Dongshi in Yunlin county, and Dacheng in Changhua — and a further 52,251 chickens were destroyed to prevent the further spread of the infection.

After a brief absence, the H5N6 HPAI virus has been detected again in Vietnam, this time in the South Central Coast region of Quang Nam. Among a village flock of 3,800 birds, there were 1,350 cases, according to the agriculture ministry report to the OIE.

The H5N8 HPAI virus has reemerged in the northwest of Iran after one month. The country’s veterinary organization has reported to the OIE that the virus was detected in a small backyard flock in the city of Tabriz in East Azerbaijan province.

The Iran Veterinary Organization has declared to the OIE that the three earlier disease outbreaks linked to the virus in the same region in November 2018 have been resolved. Since that time, a national surveillance program and tracing activities had revealed no sign of the virus until the new outbreak on March 9.

Local media report that avian influenza has returned to Nepal. The outbreak was in the Makwanpur district of Province No.3, according to The Himalayan Times. A senior veterinarian in neighboring Chitwan has warned poultry owners to adhere to biosecurity plans. It is reported that an H9 low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus has been detected in poultry samples taken from Makwanpur.

Earlier, the same source reported that farmers whose chickens and eggs have been destroyed to control the disease will receive financial compensation. A total of 41,000 layer chickens have been humanely destroyed in the city of Hetauda.

After detecting the H5N8 HPAI virus in wild birds at two locations in Islamabad in January this year, Pakistan’s animal health agency has declared the disease situation “resolved” to the OIE.

New HPAI outbreak in South African ostriches

At the start of February, the H5N8 HPAI virus was detected in 75 birds among a flock of 4,372 commercial ostriches at a farm in Free State.

Based on official reports to the OIE, this brings the country’s total outbreaks since mid-2017 to 204. The great majority of previous outbreaks have been in Western Cape Province.

Avian flu detected in poultry in Bulgaria, Denmark

Bulgaria’s agriculture ministry has informed OIE that an H5 HPAI virus has been detected at a farm with 3,200 birds in Lovech province. Twenty birds tested positive for the virus, but none showed signs of clinical disease.

The birds affected were ducks, according to Reuters.

Ducks were also affected by the latest discovery of LPAI in Denmark.

A new strain on H7 LPAI was detected in the country for the first time at a farm at Brenderup in the municipality of Middelfart on the island of Funen last week, according to the agriculture ministry’s official report to the OIE. None of the 3,300 mallards that were being reared to restock game reserves had shown signs of disease. The infection was revealed during routine testing, and all the birds have since been humanely destroyed to reduce the risk of the virus becoming highly pathogenic.

The Danish authorities report no new cases of the H5 LPAI virus, which was first detected in free-range layers on Jutland at the end of February.

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