First avian flu cases confirmed in Algeria, Reunion

In the past month, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been reported for the first time in Algeria and RĂ©union.

On the puzzles there is an inscription - Avian Influenza, on a blue background pills.
On the puzzles there is an inscription - Avian Influenza, on a blue background pills.
(SkazouD | Bigstock)

In the past month, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been reported for the first time in Algeria and RĂ©union. 

For the French overseas territory of RĂ©union, the H5N1 virus serotype has been detected for the first time ever in poultry at the start of October. 

Affected were two flocks in Saint-Paul, according to official reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). Presence of the virus was reported among 240 poultry at a farm, and 18 more in a non-commercial flock on October 1. Of these, 190 and seven birds, respectively, died and the rest were culled. 

The source of the infection is unknown.

Located in the western Indian Ocean, RĂ©union is a department of France. The municipality of Saint-Paul is in the west of the island. 

HPAI returns to Algeria

Following an 18-month hiatus, the H5N1 HPAI virus has been detected again in Algeria.

According to latest WOAH notification, around 95% of the 37,500 poultry at a farm in MĂ©dĂ©a died around the end of September. The remaining birds were culled to prevent further spread of the disease.

Also in this state of North Africa, there is uncertainty over the source of infection.

The province of Médéa is in the north of Algeria.

Resurgence of disease in southwestern Nigeria

Latest notification to WOAH from the Nigerian veterinary authority outlines seven new outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N1virus. 

Confirmed in the period September 29 to October 13, all the new outbreaks were in the local government area of Epe in Lagos state. At each affected farm, there was a flock of 2,330 to 2,960 poultry. Mortalities ranged from five to 250, and the remaining birds have all been culled. 

Since December of 2020, WOAH has been notified of 299 outbreaks of HPAI linked to this virus serotype in this West African country. Losses of birds exceed 2.28 million in 28 out of Nigeria’s 37 administrative regions. 

During the month of October, HPAI has been reported in four Nigerian states — Delta, Ogun, and Bayelsa, as well as Lagos. This is according to the federal government, reports Daily Trust. Recognizing that this could be a sign of a resurgence in the disease, the agriculture ministry has called on all state governments to renew their efforts to halt the spread of infection. 

Urging farmers to improve biosecurity measures, Minister Dr. Maimuna Abdullahi Habib cautioned against the use of untested vaccines to prevent infections in poultry. She also identified live poultry markets, delays in lab testing, and uncontrolled poultry movements across the country as factors in the recent spread of the virus in these south and southwestern states. 

Two new outbreaks confirmed in South African poultry

Over the past month, South Africa’s veterinary authority has registered a further two H5N1 HPAI outbreaks with WOAH. 

Confirmed at the start of October, these outbreaks affected a total of 286 poultry at two farms. One was located in KwaZulu-Natal, and the other in Gauteng. 

Since March of 2021, there have been 91 outbreaks of HPAI linked to the H5N1 virus serotype in the eastern provinces, according to WOAH notifications. Directly impacted through mortality and culling have been almost 4.96 million commercial poultry.

Among wild birds and non-commercial poultry, HPAI caused by the same virus serotype has been causing losses.

Over the past 18 months, outbreaks in these populations have been confirmed at 70 locations across the country. The most recent cases to test positive for the virus were detected in wild birds in Cape Town at the end of July. Losses of Cape cormorants alone are estimated at 19,000. 

However, local media have reported new cases in wild birds more recently. 

A colony of African penguins near Cape Town is under threat from HPAI, reported VOA News last month. Since August, 30 of the birds had already died out of a population of 3,000 that is regarded as endangered. This source puts total bird flu mortalities of the Cape cormorants at more than 20,000. 

The risk to human health from this H5N1 virus serotype is low, according to a veterinarian working with a South African conservation organization.     

Guinea farmers call for compensation

Around 200,000 poultry have been culled in the Republic of Guinea in order to limit the spread of HPAI. This has brought the disease outbreak under control, reported Agence Ecofin

First ever cases of H5N1 HPAI in this West African state were reported in mid-April. Affected were six farms with a total of more than 120,000 birds near to the capital city, Conakry.

One month ago, more than 100 poultry farmers called for financial compensation from the government. GuinĂ©e Matin reported that their protests for the payment of the promised compensation brought no response from the agriculture ministry. According to this source, almost 420,000 poultry were involved in the cull to control the disease. 

Overall HPAI situation in sub-Saharan Africa

Since February of 2017, four HPAI serotypes have been detected in this region, according to the latest update on the disease situation by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

While presence of the H5N1 variant has been confirmed widely in 18 different states, eight countries have reported the H5N8. serotype over this time. In Nigeria, birds have tested positive also to the H5N2 and H5N6 virus subtypes.

Since October. 1 of this year, FAO reports two outbreaks linked to the H5N1 virus in RĂ©union and in South Africa, as outlined above. 

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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