Albania, Poland, South Africa record new avian flu cases in poultry

From the southeast European state of Albania have come official reports of three new highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry.

(New Design Illustrations | Bigstock)
(New Design Illustrations | Bigstock)

From the southeast European state of Albania have come official reports of three new highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry. 

According to official reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health  (OIE), these were detected in the first half of June. Involving a total of 168 poultry in three backyard flocks, the outbreaks were linked to the H5N8 virus variant. Latest cases were detected in the counties of Tirana, Kukes, and Diber.   

During the third week of May, Albania registered its first cases of HPAI in poultry  linked to this virus variant since 2006. So far, six outbreaks have been officially confirmed. Around 4,500 poultry have been directly impacted in these outbreaks in four counties — Tirana and Durres in the central-west of the country, and Kukes and Diber in the north-east. 

Over the past week, Poland’s chief veterinary office has confirmed two new outbreaks of HPAI in poultry, also linked to the H5N8 HPAI virus subtype.

The latest to be affected are one flock of around 7,100 fattening turkeys in the province of Lesser Poland (Malopolskie), and a non-commercial flock of just over 100 poultry in Mazovia, near to the capital, Warsaw.

These outbreaks bring the country’s total so far this year to 338.

According to the national veterinary agency, the HPAI situation in Romania’s poultry sector has been “resolved.” Its most recent official report to the OIE outlines covers one new outbreak — in a backyard flock comprising 66 poultry. This brought to six the number of outbreaks in the country in which the H5N8 virus variant was detected since early May, all in the central counties of Mures and Harghita. In total, almost 800,000 poultry were directly impacted in these outbreaks, including around 10,000 mortalities.

Overall avian flu situation in Europe since October 2020

In its most recent update on the avian flu situation, European Reference Lab for avian influenza, IZSVe highlights the recent marked decline in new outbreaks across the continent. According to its data, the total number of outbreaks recorded — for poultry, captive birds, and wild birds — has reached no more that around 20 per week for the previous month. At the peak of the HPAI season in late February through to mid-March this year, 250 outbreaks were reported weekly.

As of June 25, the total number of outbreaks in Europe since the start of the HPAI season in October of 2020 had reached 3,692. Of these, 1,277 were reported in poultry, 86 in captive birds, and 2,326 in wild birds.

2021 HPAI outbreak total in poultry stands at 1,165

The latest data from the Animal Disease Information System of the European Commission (EC) puts the number of HPAI outbreaks in Europe so far this year at 1,165. This was the total as of June 27. Compared to the previous update on June 11, this is an increase of two outbreaks — one each in Germany and Poland.

Nineteen countries have recorded HPAI outbreaks in poultry with the EC so far this year.  

For 2021, worst affected continues to be France with 473 outbreaks, but the nation’s total has been unchanged for two months. Poland has now registered 337 outbreaks through this system, and the German total is 209. These are followed by Lithuania with 39 outbreaks in poultry, and the Czech Republic with 37. The remaining 13 countries have notified the EC of no more than 15 outbreaks.

For comparison, a total of 442 outbreaks of HPAI in poultry were registered through the EC system in 2020. In that year, cases were reported by 16 states, and Hungary was the worst affected (273 outbreaks). 

Overview of HPAI situation in Europe’s wild and captive birds

In contrast to the sharp decline in new cases in poultry, European states continue to register additional wild birds testing positive for HPAI — albeit at a much slower rate.

For 2021, the number of confirmed outbreaks of HPAI among wild birds in Europe now stands at 1,634, according to the EC’s notification system (as of June 27). Compared to the previous update from June 11, this represents an increase of 38. Of these, 18 were confirmed by Germany, 11 in Finland, five in Sweden, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Norway and Poland.

In all, 28 states in the region have registered with the EC one or more cases of HPAI in their respective wild bird populations.

Registering by far the most cases so far this year has been Germany, now with a total of 876. Next come Denmark (241 outbreaks), Poland (90), Sweden (87), and The Netherlands (52). Other countries have reported no more than 40 outbreaks through this system so far this year. 

In 2020, a total of 756 outbreaks of HPAI in wild birds were registered by 13 European nations with the EC system. Of this total, 455 were in Germany. Among captive birds, eight states reported a total of 18 outbreaks.

Following five confirmed outbreaks linked to the H5N1 HPAI virus in wild birds in Italy, the veterinary authority has declared to the OIE that the situation has been resolved. Eight birds in the Adriatic Sea region tested positive for this virus in November and December of 2020. No cases have been recorded since that time. 

Finland’s animal health agency has registered with the OIE three new cases of wild birds infected with the same virus variant. Discovered between May 24 and June 2, these included one dead eagle. 

In mid-June, three more wild birds found dead in Sweden tested positive for the H5N8 HPAI virus variant. This is according to the latest official report to the OIE. 

Three more HPAI outbreaks in South African poultry flocks

South Africa’s animal health authority has registered three further outbreaks of HPAI in poultry with the OIE. 

Involving a total of almost 47,000 poultry, presence of the H5N1 HPAI virus variant was confirmed at each location in the period June 12-21. Affected were two farms — one with around 18,000 poultry in KwaZulu-Natal, and another with 28,900 birds in North West. The other outbreak was in a backyard flock comprising 23 poultry in Eastern Cape.

These latest outbreaks bring the country’s total since March of this year to 33. Losses of birds as a result of mortality or culling now exceeds 2.43 million.

No new detections of the low-pathogenic avian influenza virus of the H7 family have been reported in South Africa. Since August of 2020, there have been 23 outbreaks linked to this virus among the country’s commercial ostrich flocks. The most recent reported cases occurred in February of this year.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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