Avian flu hits more poultry in Nigeria, South Africa

More poultry in Nigeria and South Africa have tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus.

(Eraxion | Bigstock)
(Eraxion | Bigstock)

In Nigeria and South Africa, more poultry have tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus. Many of the affected premises have large commercial flocks, which are being decimated by the virus.

Further cases have also been confirmed in poultry in Ghana and Togo, while the disease has been brought under control in Lesotho.

Over the four weeks to December 8, a total of 112 new HPAI outbreaks were reported to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These outbreaks occurred in four African countries — namely Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, and South Africa. 

Further outbreaks recorded in South African poultry

Over the past month, 18 new HPAI outbreaks linked to the H5N1 virus variant have been confirmed in South Africa. This is based on information supplied by the veterinary authority to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

In one outbreak series that covers mainly commercial poultry, the number of outbreaks since March of this year has reached 78.

More than 3.7 million birds — including poultry and commercial ostriches — have been directly impacted so far. Affected premises are located in three provinces, namely Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape.

The most recent cases in this outbreak series were in a commercial ostrich flock in Western Cape in early December.

Reported separately by the authorities are cases of H5N1 HPAI detected in wild birds and non-commercial poultry. 

Since this virus serotype was first detected in these populations in May of this year, the number of outbreaks has reached 53. Cases are more widely distributed, affecting also the provinces of Eastern Cape, Free State and Limpopo.

Many of the more than 39,000 birds affected in these reported in this outbreak series have been wild species, particularly Cape cormorants. However, around 1,680 of the cases have been in poultry. Most recent outbreak to be reported was in a backyard poultry flock of 33 birds in Gauteng at the start of December.

More than 100 HPAI outbreaks in Nigerian poultry

Earlier this month, the authorities in the West African state reported to the OIE a total of 110 new outbreaks of HPAI in poultry involving the H5N1 virus serotype.

Some of the cases date back to early May of this year, while the most recent were detected on November 20. Directly affected were a total of almost 676,000 birds through mortality or culling to prevent the further spread of infection.

Nine of the latest outbreaks were in backyard flocks, while three were at live bird markets. All the other affected premises were commercial farms across 18 regions. The largest single outbreak was in almost 106,000 poultry.

Based on information supplied to the OIE, losses of poultry to HPAI in Nigeria over the past year have reached almost 1.2 million birds.

Further HPAI outbreaks in other West African states

Around one month ago, the OIE was notified about a new HPAI outbreak in poultry in the Togolese Republic (Togo).

More than 1,000 guinea fowl out of a flock of around 3,000 birds were reported to have died at a farm at the end of October. Presence of the H5N1 serotype was confirmed.

The affected premises was in the prefecture of Zio in the southernmost region of Maritime.

Between June and August of this year, four HPAI outbreaks linked to the same virus serotype were reported to the OIE. All were in the same region. In total, almost 5,500 poultry were directly impacted by these previous outbreaks.

In Ghana, a further 17 HPAI outbreaks in poultry have been reported to the FAO over the past month.

These bring to 47 the total number of H5N1 outbreaks in domestic birds in Ghana since October of 2021, according to this source. Cases have been confirmed in six regions — Ashanti, Central, Greater Accra, Upper West, Volta, and Western. 

HPAI resolved in Lesotho

Linked to an H5 virus, first cases of HPAI were reported in poultry in this southern African state at the end of May this year.

According to information from the national anima health agency, poultry at two farms tested positive for the virus during that month. First to be affected were around 22,700 laying hens in the northern district of Leribe. A few days later, a mixed flock of 3,000 poultry in tested positive for the same virus. They were at a farm in the north-west, in the Maseru district. 

No further cases have been recorded since that time, and so the situation has recently been declared to the OIE as “resolved.”

South Africa reports mild form of avian flu in domestic birds 'resolved'

Over the past week, South Africa’s veterinary authority has declared that low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) in the country has been “resolved.”

According to official reports to the OIE, the situation applies to two outbreak series linked to the H7 avian flu virus “family,” and one to an H5 variant. All began in the third quarter of 2020.

Two of the outbreak series were confined to commercial ostrich farms in the Eden district of the Western Cape. At four premises, birds tested positive for the H5 virus group between August of last year and July of 2021. There were 83 cases including three mortalities out of the 5,329 ostriches at these farms. An H7 LPAI virus was detected in a total of 94 out of around 4,500 of the birds at six farms in the same district. The most recent virus-positive cases were identified in August of 2020.

Reported as being a new strain in the country, an H7 LPAI was first detected in an ostrich flock in early August of 2020. Up to February of this year, it was also found only in ostriches farmed at 23 locations in the Western Cape of South Africa. However, some of the 410 cases out of a total of almost 23,000 birds tested were located at premises in district other than Eden.

Following these positive tests, a total of five ostriches died in South Africa. None was culled.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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