Rapid spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry in Russia has led directly to the loss of more than 1.1 million birds in backyard and commercial flocks, highlighting the need for timely and effective control measures to prevent even wider spread of the virus.
Last week, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was informed by the agriculture ministry in Russia of a further eight outbreaks of HPAI caused by an H5 virus in poultry. Seven of the outbreaks were in “backyard” flocks, but the virus was also detected in a commercial flock of more than 616,000 birds at the Belokalitvinskaya poultry farm in Rostov oblast. As well as a significant loss at a third large commercial farm, that outbreak indicates geographical spread of the virus, which has now affected poultry in eight oblasts.
The latest outbreaks bring Russia’s total over the last month to 41, directly involving more than 1.1 million birds through mortality or humane destruction. The source of the infection in each case is “unknown or inconclusive.”
Russia’s current battle against HPAI highlights the urgent need for “robust control measures” to control the spread of the virus, according to an analysis by the agriculture ministry of the United Kingdom, Defra. The same agency identifies the virus involved as H5N8. Russia’s reports to the OIE describe it more generally as a member of the H5 subgroup.
There may have been more HPAI outbreaks in Russia than officially reported to the OIE. In a report from the Avian Flu Diary last week citing local media, the virus has been detected at 14 poultry farms in eight villages in Samara oblast.
In the Netherlands, where a new scandal involving fipronil use in layer hens recently emerged, veterinary authority has declared the country free of H5N6 HPAI to the OIE. All control measures have been lifted following two outbreaks of the disease earlier this year, and no detections of the virus for three months following the secondary cleaning and disinfection of the affected poultry facilities.
France: new low-pathogenic virus type detected, compensation pay-out
A flock of farmed mallard ducks in the northern region of Île de France has tested positive for a low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus of the H7N7 subtype, according to the report to the OIE from the agriculture ministry.
Samples had been taken at the farm around one month ago as part of the national surveillance scheme. None of the birds showed clinical symptoms, but quarantine measures were put in place. A follow-up test found no evidence of virus excretion by the birds. Once the ducks are dispatched, the facilities will be cleaned and disinfected, and then left empty for a period of time, as required by current French legislation.
The agriculture ministry has announced the start of compensation payments to poultry farmers and companies affected by the H5N8 HPAI outbreaks that occurred in France in 2017. More than 2,300 poultry farmers will receive EUR77 million (US$90 million) at current exchange rates. Financial losses during the health restrictions will be fully compensated in three payment phases, as well as 50 percent of the losses incurred after the controls were lifted.
In addition, a budget of EUR20 million has been allocated to compensate 59 companies that applied for assistance after suffering economic losses as a result of the disease.
Asia: Taiwan reports one HPAI outbreak
Yunlin county has recorded one new outbreak of HPAI linked to the H5N2 virus variant, according to the report from Taiwan’s veterinary authority to the OIE. This brings the county’s total so far this year to 43.
Latest to be affected was a flock of 771 turkeys in Dongshi town, 161 of which died, and the rest have been destroyed.
Malaysia’s agriculture minister, Junz Wong, has issued a statement saying there have been no outbreaks of avian flu in the Sabah region. According to The Star, he said that poultry mortalities reported on social media were caused by changes in the weather, and were not the result of HPAI or other disease.