Algeria records first avian flu outbreak, more cases in Asia

As Algeria reports its first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry, there are further cases in Asia — in India, Iran, and Vietnam. The disease situation appears to be under control in Nepal.

Algeria has confirmed its first case of H8N5 highly pathogenic avian influenza. (iSkylark | Bigstock)
Algeria has confirmed its first case of H8N5 highly pathogenic avian influenza. (iSkylark | Bigstock)

The H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus has been detected and confirmed for the first time in the northern African country of Algeria.

According to the official notification to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the H5N8 virus variant was detected after around 50,000 out of a flock of 51,200 poultry died in mid-January. All remaining birds have been destroyed, the agriculture ministry reports.

So far, the outbreak has been contained around the town of Ain Fakroun, reported the Anadolu Agency this week.

However, the agriculture has ministry declared a state of emergency in the area, which is in the east of the country, and part of the city of Oum El Bouaghi. Other parts of the country have been placed on alert. Source of the infection was migratory birds, according to the agriculture minister.

Sharp rise, spread in HPAI cases in Iran

According to the Iran Veterinary Organization, there have been 22 new outbreaks of HPAI in poultry linked to the H5N8 virus variant. Occurring in the period January 9-30, these directly impacted more than 637,000 birds.

While six of the outbreaks were among small backyard or village flocks, the majority occurred at large commercial farms. Among them were a broiler flock of 101,000 birds, one of 192,000 laying hens, and 30,000 broiler breeders. Also included in the report were cases among a small group of ostriches, and in an individual wild bird.

Since the country’s first cases in early December, Iran’s HPAI outbreak total now stands at 30. Based on OIE reports, these have directly involved more than 1.16 million poultry.

Also noteworthy is the spread of infection from the initial outbreak in Tehran province in the north of the country. So far, the worst affected has been the eastern state of South Khorasan, but the latest reports include first cases in the west of the country in West Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, and Kermanshah.

Vietnam struggles to control HPAI

The number of poultry culled in Vietnam to control the spread of HPAI has reached 100,000, reports VN Express.

According to this source, all these birds have been destroyed over the past month. Following detection of the H5N1 or H5N6 virus variants in 40 poultry flocks at 14 locations, culling has taken place across the whole country from north (near Hanoi) to south.

Most of the outbreaks have occurred in small backyard flocks that have not been vaccinated, reports the agriculture ministry. Because of the threat to human health, the ministry is warning people not to cook poultry of unknown origin, and not to consume a local specialty that includes raw poultry blood.

Ministry figures put Vietnam’s loss of poultry due to HPAI-related culling at 133,000 in 2019.

India: HPAI is 'raging' in Maharashtra state

The national government has not authorized the use of vaccination to control the current series of HPAI outbreaks in India, reported First Post last week. The minister said that the use of a vaccine is not a route to eradicate the disease, and India is among the countries that have not authorized a product to control HPAI.

According to the minister, the disease has been detected among poultry and/or wild birds in 14 Indian states and union territories. The national drugs agency has provided more than 1.0 billion rupees (INR; US$14.2 million) to these affected areas to control avian flu, he said.

So far this year, India has officially registered with the OIE the presence of the H5N8 virus in poultry in the states of Kerala, Haryana, and Gujarat, and the H5N1 in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. Wild birds have tested positive for one or other of these variants in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab.

In the western state of Maharashtra, avian flu is “raging” through poultry flocks, according to New Indian Express.

In the Nandurbar district, 220,000 birds have been culled at eight egg farms over the past few days alone. Farmers whose flocks are culled report facing economic hardship, saying that government compensation is insufficient. Meanwhile, many farm workers have lost their jobs and income.

This week, Times of India reported that the avian flu virus has been detected in samples of bird droppings from a zoo in Delhi.

Nepal has avian flu under control

The avian flu outbreak in Nepal reported last week is under control, reports The Himalayan Times. Around 2,300 poultry in the affected area of Kathmandu have been culled, according to a local official. Also destroyed were a further 1,900  poultry, 542 eggs and 75 kilograms of poultry feed.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the H5N8 HPAI virus had been detected at a farm in the city’s municipality of Tarakeshwar after a spike in mortality among poultry. Previous outbreak was in September of 2019.

China confirms HPAI virus in wild birds at 4th location

Over the past week, China’s agriculture ministry has registered with the OIE that the H5N8 virus has been detected for the first time in Jiangsu province. Presence of the virus was confirmed after 17 ducks died out of a flock of around 650 birds. They were at a park in the Lianyungang city region.

During this winter, the same variant has been detected in wild birds in Shanxi and Shandong provinces, and the city of Beijing.

Two new human cases of avian influenza in China

Over the past week, two confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been confirmed in China, according to the Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong.

In Anhui province, a one-year-old girl who tested positive for the virus has now recovered. The death was also reported of a three-year-old girl in Guizhou province. These latest cases put the global total since 2014 at 29, all of them in mainland China.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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