Wattagnet: Italy reports 50 avian flu outbreaks so far this year



New cases also reported in Taiwan, South Africa

Since first reporting the disease in January of this year, Italy’s health ministry has recently reported the country’s 50th outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry, while new cases have also been confirmed in the last week in South Africa and Taiwan.

Seven new outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N8 virus variant were included in the ministry in Rome’s latest report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), with a total of more than 776,000 poultry affected in these latest cases alone. The largest unit to be affected by the disease was a layer flock of almost 743,000 birds in the province of Ferrara in Emilia Romagna. There were also four outbreaks in the region of Veneto, affecting two smaller laying flocks, meat turkeys and a group of mixed poultry. More fattening turkeys and a backyard flock were confirmed with the disease in the Lombardy region.

Updated information from the Italian health authority and research organization for animal health and food safety (IZSVe) includes two further outbreaks, which bring the country’s total to 50 so far this year. IZSVe reports that HPAI of an H5 subtype was detected last week in two more poultry flocks in Lombardy – 20 birds at an agri-tourism site in Bergamo province and 6,500 meat turkeys in Mantua. Work is ongoing to identify the virus or viruses involved, as well as on the humane destruction of affected birds and cleaning and disinfection of the premises.

Hungary’s agriculture ministry has updated its reports to the OIE, confirming a total of 13 outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N8 HPAI virus between November of 2016 and March this year. The viruses has not been detected since that time, and so the country has declared itself to be free of the disease.

There have been no cases of HPAI in Russia since early August, according to the latest official report from the agriculture ministry in Moscow to the OIE.

More HPAI outbreaks in South Africa

From 67 a week ago, the number of confirmed H5N8 HPAI outbreaks in South Africa has now reached 79. These include seven new outbreaks in poultry -- six in four different districts of Western Cape Province, and one in Free State, affecting a total of more than 428,000 birds. One of the affected premises had 176,000 birds, 100,000 of which died from the disease, and the virus was also confirmed in flocks numbering 50,500 and 200,000 birds. Two commercial ostrich farms and a backyard flock were also found to be infected.

The same virus is also impacting on the non-commercial sector in South Africa, with five recent outbreaks confirmed at zoos in Cape Town and Johannesburg, in two hobby flocks in Cape Town, and in a group of exotic geese in Gauteng.

Asia: New HPAI outbreaks in Taiwan, South Korea on alert

Taiwan’s battle to control various forms of HPAI started early in 2015. Surveillance has been on-going, and the latest samples have revealed the H5N2 virus in native chickens and ducks at three locations in Yunlin county, and in a duck flock in Changhua. Individual ducks at locations in Yunlin and Pingtung have also tested positive for the H5N8 virus.

From India comes the news that there have been no new outbreaks of HPAI caused by the H5N8 virus since the end of last year, and the agriculture ministry has declared the country free of the disease to the OIE.

Following a series of HPAI outbreaks starting two months ago, the poultry sector in the Philippines is reported to be “close to recovery” as farm gate prices have generally returned to their previous levels after dipping as consumer confidence was knocked, according to Philippine Star. However, production has not yet returned to normal in the localities in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija where the outbreaks occurred.

After a low-pathogenic avian flu virus was recently detected in South Korea, the country’s government has announced that an H5 virus has been found in the droppings of wild birds in Seosan. Yonhap reports that quarantine measures have been imposed around the site in central South Korea while the pathogenicity of the virus is assessed.

China: No human avian flu cases since mid-September

There have been no new confirmed cases of avian influenza A (H7N9) since September 15, according to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection. The number of global cases since March of 2013 remains at 1,564. These include 766 in the “fifth wave” of outbreaks between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017, and 758 of these cases were in China.


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