Avian flu outbreaks reported in poultry in Asia, Africa

New variants of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported in poultry Afghanistan, Nigeria and Taiwan, as well as in wild birds in Iran and Israel.

Bugdog, Freeimages.com
Bugdog, Freeimages.com

New variants of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported in poultry in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Taiwan, and in wild birds in Iran and Israel. There are also official reports of new cases of HPAI in poultry in Cambodia, Iraq, and South Korea.

Despite the country’s intensive efforts to control HPAI ahead of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea’s agriculture ministry has informed the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) about a new outbreak of the disease linked to the H5N6 virus variant in poultry. Latest to be affected was a flock of 24,000 broiler breeders in South Chungcheong province. More than 100 of the birds died, and the rest have been destroyed.

Taiwan’s veterinary agency has reported the return of the H5N8 subtype of the HPAI virus — the first detection since October last year. Without any clinical signs, the virus was detected in a flock of more than 3,000 meat ducks in the county of Pingtung. All the birds have been culled, and the farm has been cleaned and disinfected. Movement restrictions have been put in place in the surrounding area, and surveillance of poultry flocks has been intensified.

A further series of HPAI outbreaks linked to an H5 virus type has begun in Afghanistan, according to an official notification to the OIE. Latest to be affected is a flock of 54,000 poultry in the north-western region of Herat, which borders Turkmenistan and Iran. Previously, the veterinary authority reported two outbreaks of disease of the same virus group in small poultry flocks in Kabul, and in wild birds in Khost province in December 2017.

The H5N8 virus has been linked to a recent HPAI outbreak in Baghdad. Iraq’s animal health agency has reported to the OIE that 43,300 of the 71,200 birds in the flock died from the disease, and the rest have been destroyed. This brings the country’s total HPAI outbreaks in this series to five.

At the end of January, there was a new outbreak of H5N1 HPAI in Cambodia. The virus was detected in a backyard flock of 77 birds in the province of Mondulkiri, which is in the east of the country and borders Vietnam.

Following a period of 21 days without any new HPAI outbreaks, Japan’s agriculture ministry has informed OIE that movement restrictions for the poultry sector have been lifted across the whole country. These measures had been put in place following an outbreak of HPAI caused by the H5N6 virus variant in Kagawa prefecture in January.

OIE has been informed by Israel’s agriculture ministry that the H5N8 HPAI virus has recently been detected in a wild bird in Jerusalem. The eagle owl, which was found dead, was the first wild bird to test positive for this virus in the country for almost one year.

Mass mortality among wild ducks at a natural park in the northern Iranian province of Gilan has been linked to the H5N6 HPAI virus, according to a new OIE report. Officials in the area are advising poultry owners to raise biosecurity standards and to observe their birds carefully for signs of the disease. It is the first time this virus variant has been detected in Iran.

The animal health agency in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has informed OIE that the H5N6 HPAI situation in wild birds, which began in December of 2017, has been “resolved.” All poultry farms near to the location of the infected wild birds have tested negative for the virus.

Africa: HPAI returns to Nigeria

After a brief absence, the H5N8 HPAI virus has returned to Nigeria. According to the official OIE report, it infected a flock of 1,150 chickens in the central state of Nasarawa in January, killing the majority of birds at the farm. The animal health agency has recorded no new outbreaks linked to the H5N1 virus subtype, which has been intermittently affecting the country’s poultry sector for more than three years.

Caribbean: More cases of low-pathogenic avian flu in Dominican Republic

According to an official report to the OIE, a low-pathogenic H5N2 avian flu virus was detected at a further four locations in the four-week period from December 11, 2017. These bring the nation’s total outbreaks to eight since September last year. Despite its low pathogenicity, the virus is being linked to clinical symptoms and the death of more than 800 of the almost 79,000 birds affected at three layer farms—two in La Vega and one in Salcedo—and a small backyard flock in Salcedo. All remaining poultry in these flocks have been destroyed.

Europe: HPAI detected in wild bird in Ireland

For the first time, the H5N6 variant of the HPAI virus has been detected in the Republic of Ireland. According to the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, a wild bird in County Tipperary tested positive for the virus last week.

The U.K.’s animal health agency has reported to the OIE that the same virus type has been detected in a further 10 wild birds at five locations in England—two in the county of Surrey, and one each in Berkshire, Hertfordshire, and Warwickshire.

In France, intensive surveillance of poultry for avian flu viruses has revealed a low-pathogenic virus of the H5N3 family at five farms on the western side of the country, according to the official report to the OIE. All the cases were in ducks tested prior to movement, affecting a total of more than 36,500 birds, 16,000 of which have already been culled. Three of the farms were in the department of Morbihan in the north-west of the country, while the others were in Loire-Atlantique and Gers.

The French veterinary authority has also reported to the OIE the detection of a low-pathogenic H5N1 virus in a duck flock in the department of Deux-Sèvres in April 2017. This was the 27th and final detection of this virus, and this disease event is now described as “resolved.” The same resolution has been reported to the OIE regarding a low-pathogenic H7 virus, which was found at just one French farm in May of 2017 and has not been detected since that time.

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