Avian flu returns to Vietnam, Netherlands

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has returned to the poultry sectors of Vietnam and The Netherlands, while new outbreaks have been confirmed in Cambodia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Taiwan.

Photo by Andrea Gantz
Photo by Andrea Gantz

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has returned to the poultry sectors of Vietnam and The Netherlands, while new outbreaks have been confirmed in Cambodia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Taiwan.

After an absence of less than four months, H5N6 HPAI has returned to the Vietnamese poultry sector, according to the official report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). A flock of 3,200 backyard birds in the northerly province of Hai Phong succumbed to the disease in mid-February.

In Saudi Arabia, there have been a further seven confirmed new outbreaks of HPAI linked to the H5N8 virus subtype in recent weeks. All the cases were at farms in the governorate of Riyadh, and almost half a million birds were lost to the disease through mortality or destruction in these outbreaks alone. They bring the Kingdom’s total since December to 22.

Iraq’s total number of HPAI outbreaks linked to the same virus has risen to eight, based on official reports to the OIE last week. At two farms in Diyala and Baghdad, a total of 170,000 poultry were affected by these latest outbreaks.

There has also been one new outbreak of HPAI in Cambodia, bringing the country’s total to eight outbreaks. Almost 100 birds at a farm in Phnom Penh were lost to the disease in a mid-February outbreak linked to the H5N1 virus subtype.

More than 28,000 native chickens at a farm in Yunlin county are the latest cases of H5N2 HPAI to be lost to the disease in Taiwan.

India’s veterinary authority has confirmed to the OIE that the H5N1 HPAI virus was detected in the recently reported mass mortality of house crows at Paradeep in Orissa state.

Europe: HPAI returns to the Netherlands

After an absence of just two months, HPAI has returned to the Dutch poultry sector. According to the chief veterinary’s officer’s report to the OIE, a farm with almost 38,000 domestic poultry in the province of Groningen tested positive for the H5N6 virus variant at the end of February. All of the surviving birds have been humanely destroyed. Poultry at three farms within a three-kilometer surveillance zone have been tested for the virus and returned negative results.

A corridor has been opened by the Dutch agriculture ministry to allow operations to resume at a poultry slaughter house that lies within 10 kilometers of the outbreak at Oldekerk. Strict conditions apply, however. Birds must be sourced from outside the flu-affected area, transported using designated routes, and slaughtered on the same day.

The Dutch authorities have also confirmed to the OIE the presence of the virus in a wild duck found dead in North Holland. It is stressed that the virus emerged as a reassortment of the H5N8 variant circulating last year, and not the Asian zoonotic H5N6 variant.

The same virus variant has been detected in a wild eagle found dead on the island of Zealand in Denmark’s first case of the disease since April last year.

There have been a further six outbreaks of HPAI linked to the H5N6 virus variant in wild birds in the U.K., bringing the country’s total since the start of the year to 18. The birds were found dead at locations across England and, for the first time, in Wales.

Following a period without outbreaks, the animal health agencies of Bulgaria and Slovenia have declared their respective countries free of H5N8 HPAI to the OIE.

Africa: More HPAI in wild, domestic birds in South Africa

South Africa’s total number of HPAI outbreaks linked to the H5N8 virus variant rose to 155 last week. A backyard flock of 130 domestic poultry in the north-eastern province of Limpopo was confirmed with the infection, as were wild birds at five locations in Western Cape province.

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