Global avian flu risk recedes

There have been new outbreaks in Russia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

image from Flickr | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
image from Flickr | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Based on official reports from national animal health agencies, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry appears to be continuing its decline although there have been new outbreaks in Russia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Chinese authorities have also reported further human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

New HPAI outbreaks reported in poultry in Russia, Vietnam, Taiwan

Russia’s animal health agency has reported six new outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N8 virus in poultry so far this month to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Five of these were in the Tatarstan Republic – where previous cases have occurred – and a first outbreak in Mari-El Republic, its neighbor to the north. Affected flocks ranged in size from 47 to 470 birds, with a total number of 1,142 lost to the disease through mortality or culling.

The three latest outbreaks of H5N1 HPAI in Vietnamese poultry occurred in the central provinces of Dak Lak and Dak Nong. More than 4,000 birds died or were destroyed at the three affected premises described as “backyards.”

Taiwan has reported to OIE three new outbreaks of HPAI in poultry caused by the H5N2 virus variant. All started in the first week of May, and affected were a duck flock in Changhua, and two farms of native chickens in Yunlin county. More than 16,700 poultry were lost in those outbreaks.

HPAI pressure on poultry sector lifts

As expected, the Chief Veterinary Officer in the UK confirmed early last week that measures to reduce the risk of avian flu were lifted from most parts of England on May 15. Following the detection of the virus in in one district of the northwest of the country, the measures remain in place in certain parts of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside.

National authorities in France, The Netherlands, and Ukraine have reported to the OIE that the HPAI situation is their respective countries has been resolved, following a three-month period without any outbreaks or virus-positive tests.

China reported new human infections

There have been 24 new laboratory-confirmed human infections with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus in China, according to the latest information received by the World Health Organization, bringing the total number of cases since 2013 to 1,463.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) says the cases occurred in 12 provinces, including a first cases in Shaanxi. Nineteen of the cases are known to have had exposure to poultry.

According to WHO, the number of infections and the geographical distribution in this current fifth epidemic wave are higher than in previous waves, indicating that the virus is spreading, and that intensive surveillance and control measures are crucial in both people and animals.

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