France confirms first avian flu outbreak in poultry

As France becomes the 15th European country to report highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry this winter, three other states have confirmed further cases. The disease is also affecting Asia, with new outbreaks registered in Japan and South Korea. Meanwhile, the Australian state of Victoria appears to have brought the disease under control.

(New Design Illustrations | Bigstock)
(New Design Illustrations | Bigstock)

As France becomes the 15th European country to report highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry this winter, three other states have confirmed further cases. The disease is also affecting Asia, with new outbreaks registered in Japan and South Korea. Meanwhile, the Australian state of Victoria appears to have brought the disease under control.

Avian influenza reaches France

After a spike in mortality, HPAI has been detected at a commercial farm in the southwest of France. This is the first outbreak in the country’s poultry this winter, reports the French agriculture ministry. Around 6,000 ducks were affected at the premises, which is in Benesse-Maremne in the region of Landes.

Previously, HPAI had been detected in other regions of France among wild and captive birds.

France is the only country to have registered its first cases of HPAI in poultry to the European Commission (EC) since the start of December. EC monitors significant animal diseases through its Animal Disease Notification System. It brings to 15 the number of states with at least one HPAI outbreak this year. Of these, 10 states have confirmed cases over the past month.

Since the previous update of the EC system on November 30, a further 10 outbreaks have been confirmed in Europe. This includes four in Poland and in the United Kingdom (U.K), and one each in Germany and Ukraine.

Further HPAI cases in European poultry

Poland’s total this winter now stands at six outbreaks, according to the chief veterinary office. The five outbreaks registered over the past week involved more than 1.1 million poultry (laying hens and turkeys) in three provinces (Pomerania, Greater Poland, and Mazovia), bringing the country’s total losses so far this season to more than 2.0 million.

In England, the agriculture department (Defra) has confirmed three further outbreaks of HPAI in poultry. These include confirmation of a second outbreak near the Yorkshire town of Northallerton, and two more in the eastern county of Norfolk (Attleborough and King’s Lynn).

Over the past week, the agriculture ministry in The Netherlands have confirmed two further HPAI outbreaks in poultry. Latest to be affected were a small farm with around 500 chickens in Maasland (South Holland province), and a flock of 21,000 broilers in Sint Annaparochie (Friesland).

Disease control measures ramped up

Because of the threat of further HPAI outbreaks, housing orders have been announced for all poultry in England, Scotland, and Wales. With effect from December 14, all poultry must be kept indoors, and owners must by law apply strict biosecurity measures.

Also citing the increased HPAI risk, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has announced that checks will be made on vehicles that transport poultry. These checks will ensure that cleaning and disinfection have been carried out thoroughly.

After the HPAI was detected in a third wild bird last week, the whole country of Slovenia is now considered a “high risk” for the disease, reports the STA news agency.

General HPAI situation in European wild, captive birds

So far this winter season, 12 European countries have confirmed one or more cases of HPAI in wild birds, according to the EC. Registering its first case of the season is France.

For the whole of 2020 up to December 6, there have been 507 outbreaks in wild species. This is an increase of 47 since the end of November. With 356 outbreaks, Germany has been worst affected, and its total has risen by 21 over this period.

Also reporting new cases through this system are Denmark (64 outbreaks so far this year), The Netherlands (44), the U.K. and Belgium (11), and Ireland (7).  Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden have each registered up to three HPAI outbreaks in wild birds so far this year.

According to the European Reference Lab for avian influenza, IZSVe, three HPAI virus variants have been detected in European wild birds so far this winter. Most prevalent is the H5N8 type, but the H5N1 and H5N5 viruses have also been found in some countries.

In Germany, HPAI has been detected in six more wild birds over the past week. According to the animal disease reporting system of the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute (TSIS), these cases were located in Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, and Brandenburg.

Two more HPAI virus-positive wild birds have been found in Norway. All three of the country's cases so far have been found in the county of Rogaland, reports the Norwegian government.

South Korea records sixth outbreak in poultry

So far this winter, South Korea has confirmed six HPAI outbreaks in poultry, reports Yonhap news agency. Latest to be confirmed is an outbreak in commercial ducks in Naju (South Jeolla province). The disease is also suspected in a quail flock in Yeoju (Gyeonggi).

According to the same source, 2.7 million poultry have already been culled so far this season to prevent the further spread of HPAI. This total includes birds on infected farms and other premises within a three-kilometer radius.

HPAI confirmed in sixth prefecture of Japan

An HPAI virus of the H5 family has been detected at another farm in recent days, reports Japan Times. Affected was a premises in Mihara (Hiroshima prefecture). Around 134,000 chickens at the farm and its affiliates are scheduled for culling.

After the country’s first outbreaks in Kagawa prefecture, subsequent cases have been detected in Fukuoka, Hyogo, Miyazaki, and Nara.

Avian flu restrictions eased in Australia

The Control Area set up in response to avian flu outbreaks earlier this year in the Golden Plains Shire region of Victoria has been reduced in size. According to the state’s agriculture department, the Restricted Area remains in place in order to ensure the disease is eradicated. In another affected area — near Kerrang — the Restricted Area has been removed, and the Control Area reduced.

Six avian flu outbreaks occurred in the state of Victoria earlier this year. There were three outbreaks among laying flocks linked to the H7N7 HPAI virus. Low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses of the H5N2 variant was found at two turkey farms, and an H7N6 virus in an emu flock. No new cases have been detected since August.

Biosecurity practices learned during the HPAI outbreak in the U.S. in 2015 may have helped mitigate some of the issues linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to a senior executive at a recent webinar on Profitable Egg Production.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

Page 1 of 176
Next Page