As the first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry for several years is confirmed in Burkina Faso, further cases are reported in four other states of West Africa.
The last time the H5N1 HPAI virus was detected in the West African state of Burkina Faso was in late 2015.
That was until mid-December of last year, when almost 118,000 of the 150,000 laying hens at a farm died. The presence of the H5N1 was later confirmed, according to the official notification received by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) toward the end of January.
Affected by this outbreak was a commercial premises in Centre. Located in the center of the country, this region also covers the capital city, Ouagadougou. At the farm were three poultry houses with laying birds aged 39, 54, and 69 weeks. All the surviving birds have been culled to prevent spread of the infection.
The source of the infection is unknown. The landlocked state borders several others where HPAI is known to be present.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the H5N1 HPAI virus has been present in Burkina Faso since 2017.
Nigeria registers further outbreaks
There appears to have been a recent spike in HPAI outbreaks among Nigerian poultry flocks.
The latest report from the veterinary authority in this West African state says cases were confirmed at 28 locations in the period January 11-25.
Of these, 24 outbreaks were on farms, including 17 with laying hens. The largest of these had 180,000 birds, and it was the first reported outbreak in Zamfara state in the northwest of the country.
Also affected were four broiler farms, one rearing pullets, and one with pigeons. As well as four backyard flocks, one outbreak occurred among local birds at a live bird market. These outbreaks were in six states — Federal Capital Territory, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Nassarawara, and Plateau — where earlier cases have been confirmed.
The latest cases bring to 264 the number of HPAI outbreaks in Nigeria reported to the OIE since December of 2020. Directly impacted have been more than 1.59 million poultry in 20 of the country’s states.
New cases in Ivory Coast, Niger
To the north of Nigeria is Niger. This nation’s veterinary authority has confirmed two new HPAI outbreaks in poultry with the OIE in recent days. According to the report, poultry in two backyard flocks tested positive for the H5N1 virus serotype in mid-January. Each had around 300 poultry, and was located in the capital city, Niamey.
Following an apparent absence for 5 months, the present HPAI wave began in late December of last year. Since then, three outbreaks have been confirmed, all near to Niamey. With the index outbreak at a farm, total poultry involved so far is around 19,200.
From recent reports to the OIE, it appears that the H5N1 HPAI virus serotype returned to Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) in November last year.
In the current outbreak wave, first to be affected was a farm with 11,000 laying hens in early November. Almost all of the birds died, while the rest were culled. Infection of this flock was attributed to the introduction of new live birds. The farm was in Comoé, a district in the southwest of the country, bordering Ghana.
Within two weeks, the same virus variant was detected at another poultry farm. With around 32,000 birds, this was described as a “modern poultry breeding unit” in Abidjan. Including the capital city of the same name, this district is also in the southwest of Ivory Coast, and borders Comoé.
According to the FAO, H5N1 HPAI has also been circulating in Ivory Coast since 2017. Between July and October 2021, three outbreaks were registered with the OIE. As well as many hatching and table eggs, 375,000 poultry were culled at 111 farms during that outbreak series.
Ghana’s govt takes action as outbreaks spike
In early July of 2021, Ghana’s veterinary authority reported seven outbreaks of HPAI in poultry to the OIE. Presence of the H5N1 virus serotype was confirmed at the time.
Although no further official notifications have been submitted, the disease continues to be reported in the nation’s poultry flocks.
In the past week, All Africa has reported outbreaks of the disease in poultry in the Western region, which is in the southwest of Ghana.
In order to contain the disease, the agriculture ministry recently pledged 44 million cedi (GHs; US$7 million), reported Ghana Web. As well as for a public awareness campaign, this sum will find disease control measures, and compensation for affected farmers. The government is also looking to recruit more than 500 additional veterinary professionals to fight the disease.
According to this source on January 27, around 700,000 poultry had already been impacted by HPAI. Cases have been confirmed in 10 regions, including Greater Accra, Bono, Ashanti, and Central regions.
A subsequent report from the same source covered a call from the Greater Accra Poultry Farmers Association for stricter disease control measures to be put in place by the veterinary services department. According to a board member of the body, the disease was first detected in Ghana in May of last year.
The latest update from the FAO puts the number of outbreaks of HPAI in Ghanaian poultry at 53 between October and early December of 2021. The virus responsible is the H5N1 serotype.
View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.