South Korea on high alert for avian flu

In the last week, new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry have been reported in South Korea and Taiwan, while France and the Dominican Republic have confirmed further outbreaks of low-pathogenic disease in commercial flocks.

(mashi_naz, Bigstock)
(mashi_naz, Bigstock)

In the last week, new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry have been reported in South Korea and Taiwan, while France and the Dominican Republic have confirmed further outbreaks of low-pathogenic disease in commercial flocks.

In South Korea, duck producers in the southwestern province of South Jeolla have been placed under strict quarantine measures after 850 cases of H5N6 HPAI were confirmed in a flock of 12,000 breeding ducks last week, the country’s chief veterinarian reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The province is the center of South Korea’s duck production, and 76,000 birds at five farms within a three-kilometer radius of the outbreak were slaughtered to prevent further spread of the disease, reported Yonhap. Around 1.4 million ducks are raised in the region, and officials are on high alert for the disease ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in February next year.

Taiwan’s agriculture ministry has reported a further two new outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N2 virus subtype to the OIE. More than 100 chickens of a group of 6,787 died at a slaughterhouse in Kaohsiung, and in Yunlin county, the same virus was found to have infected a flock of 890 geese. All birds in both flocks have been destroyed.

New outbreak in South African ostriches

A new outbreak of HPAI caused by the H5N8 virus variant in a flock of commercial ostriches in South Africa brings the country’s total to 107 since June.

Two cases were confirmed among 1,260 birds in Western Cape Province in September, according to the latest official report from the country’s veterinary authority to the OIE.

Europe: Dutch outbreaks linked to virus reassortment

After a duck flock in the province of Flevoland in the Netherlands was confirmed with HPAI caused by an H5N6 virus variant last week, the same virus has since been detected in a total of seven wild swans at two locations in Gelderland. Analysis of the virus has revealed that it emerged as the result of reassortment of the H5N8 variant previously circulating in Europe, and is not linked to the Asian H5N6 virus subtype.

There have been no new outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI in Italy over the last week, according to Italian health authority and research organization for animal health and food safety (IZSVe). The country’s total outbreaks since the start of 2017 remains at 83.

In France, a low pathogenic form of the H5N3 avian flu virus has been detected in a flock of 9,200 turkey breeders in Maine-et-Loire in western France. Suspicions were raised after a spike on mortality, and a sudden drop in egg production. The flock has been humanely destroyed. A similar virus was found in another turkey breeder flock in the same department in September.

Caribbean: More low-path cases in Dominican Republic

The agriculture ministry of the Dominican Republic has recently reported to the OIE a further three outbreaks of low-pathogenic avian influenza linked to the H5N2 virus. All occurred in October, one in the province in San Juan, and two in La Vega. Almost 108,000 broilers and layers died or were destroyed as a result of these outbreaks.

Avian flu had not been seen in the country since 2009. At the end of September, the first cases were detected at a farm in the province of Espaillat.

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