New avian flu outbreaks impact China, India, Philippines

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has returned to the Philippines, the Chinese province of Sichuan, and Karnataka state in India, along with countries in Europe reporting new outbreaks in poultry.

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Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has returned to the Philippines, after an absence of two years, as well as other Asian and European countries.

In the first week of March 2020, the H5N6 virus variant was detected in a flock of 15,000 quail, around 3,000 of which died. The Department of Agriculture reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that the birds were a "backyard” flock in Jaen in the province of Nueva Ecija, within the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. The remaining 12,000 birds have been destroyed.

The source of the infection is unknown, but wild birds had been observed in the area, according to the official report, which indicates the country’s most recent HPAI outbreak was in March 2018.

Department Secretary William Dar has stressed that this infection has not been detected in people, reports Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Officials have put in place quarantine measures around the outbreak, according to a subsequent report from the same source. Poultry within this area are being tested for the virus.

Poultry owners in other provinces are warned to be alert for signs of the disease. In the Western Visayas province of Negros Occidental, guidelines are being put in place to protect the poultry sector, which is worth 7 billion pesos (US$136 million). Wild birds in the area are being tested for the virus.

Jaen was among the towns hit by HPAI in 2017, according to PNA.

Further HPAI outbreak in China

During the second week of February 2020, China’s agriculture ministry reported an outbreak of HPAI linked to the H5N6 virus variant in the Sichuan province. Around 1,840 poultry in Xichong county died, and more than 2,260 more were culled.

The H5N1 HPAI virus was also detected in Hunan province at around the same time as the H5N6 outbreak. It affected a farm in the Shaoyang city area.

Third Indian state reports HPAI outbreak

Following confirmation of an HPAI outbreak in Mysuru (Mysore), an official ban has been placed on the sale of eggs and poultry meat within a 10-kilometer radius. Chickens and domestic birds within one kilometer of the outbreak are to be culled, reports New Indian Express. Disinfection of the area will be carried out over the following days.

After a series of recent mortalities among wild birds in the city, one chicken and a crane—both found dead—tested positive for the virus.

The center of the outbreak is the district of Kumbarkoppal, which is in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

The virus involved in these latest outbreak is the H5N1 variant, according to The Hindu. This source puts the number of birds culled in the one-kilometer disease control zone at more than 6,400, including around 5,100 chickens and 1,250 commercial birds.

It was also recently reported that HPAI had been found in wild birds found dead in the neighboring state of Kerala. During January 2020, the H5N1 virus variant was detected at a university poultry unit in Odisha state in the east of the India.

HPAI situation deteriorates in Poland

Poland’s agriculture ministry has confirmed to the OIE a further six HPAI outbreaks linked to the H5N8 virus, apparently bringing the total number of outbreaks in the country since the end of 2019 to 30.

Occurring between February 24 and March 5, 2019, these resulted in the direct loss of more than 65,300 poultry through mortality or culling. All these birds were on farms, according to the official report, in the provinces of Lodz, Greater Poland, Silesia, and Lower Silesia. All these provinces have reported previous cases of the disease.

The ministry has now outlined to the OIE a total of 25 of the outbreaks. Affecting poultry farms in seven provinces, direct losses of poultry now exceed 424,000 birds.

New outbreak confirmed in German poultry

In the past week, the H5N8 HPAI virus was detected in a backyard poultry farm in Leipzig city, in the state of Saxony. According to the Federal Agriculture Ministry’s report to the OIE, 24 of the 44 chickens and ducks in the flock died, and the rest have been destroyed. Saxony is located in the east of Germany.

There have been no further outbreaks linked to this virus in Baden-Wurttemberg, according to the ministry. The disease was confirmed in a backyard flock in the southwestern state during the first week of February 2020. The ministry now describes that outbreak as “resolved.”

In January 2020, the same virus type had been detected in a wild water bird in the state of Brandenburg, which borders Saxony.

Bulgaria reports new HPAI outbreaks on two farms

Two new outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N8 virus variant have been reported in Bulgaria. One was in the previously affected region of Plovdiv, but the other was the first in Kurdzhali, according to the Italian health authority and research organization for animal health and food safety (IZSVe).

On March 11, 2020, the virus was confirmed in a layer flock of 16,800 in Pereperek village in Kurdzhali. Symptoms and elevated mortality had been observed over the previous few days. The following day, the infection was detected in another layer flock. This numbered around 39,000 birds in Trilistnik village. It had some links with a previous outbreak in Plovdiv. At the time of the report, all poultry at these farms were being culled, and the premises cleaned and disinfected.

U.S. confirms low-pathogenic virus in North Carolina

A low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus of the H7N3 subgroup was detected earlier in March 2020 in the state of North Carolina. Affected were three commercial turkey flocks—two of commercial meat birds in Union County, as well as in one Anson County breeder flock.

The virus was detected as the result of routine surveillance. The only sign of disease had been a slight drop in egg production among the breeders. All 90,200 turkeys at the three premises were scheduled for euthanasia and disposal, according to the report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the OIE.

Five nearby poultry flocks have been quarantined, and are undergoing testing for the virus.

LPAI was last detected in the U.S. in August 2019.

Low-pathogenic avian flu under control in Dominican Republic

There have been no recent outbreaks of LPAI in the Caribbean state, according to the latest report from the agriculture ministry to the OIE. The pathogenicity of the virus—and H5N2 variant—has been assessed as zero. Between November 2018 and August 2019, it was detected in 26 poultry flocks in the Dominican Republic, affecting almost 807,000 birds. None of these birds was culled, and all were kept in production.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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