Europe, Asia report new avian flu cases in poultry
In the last week, the only veterinary authorities to have officially reported cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in their respective commercial poultry are those of Bulgaria, China, and Iraq, although the viruses are evidently still present in the wild bird populations of Europe and Asia.
With the changing of the seasons, there may be the first signs that HPAI is on the wane in the global poultry sector.
Veterinary authorities in Iraq, however, have reported a further two outbreaks on farms caused by the H5N8 virus variant to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Bringing the country’s total outbreaks to far this year to 14, the latest cases were in the eastern governorate of Diyala and neighboring Baghdad. A total of 13,500 birds were lost to the disease as a result of mortality or destruction to reduce the risk of further spread.
A second outbreak of HPAI has occurred in China’s poultry sector this year. The agriculture ministry in Beijing has informed the OIE that the H7N9 virus variant was detected in a flock of more than 6,000 laying hens in what is described as a backyard flock in Shanxi province in the North China Region. This borders the province where the previous outbreak occurred in February of 2018.
Mass mortality of wild birds has occurred for a second time this year in India. The latest losses—from the H5N1 variant of the HPAI virus—were of 80 house crows in a village in Uttar Pradesh in the north-east of the country, near to the border with Nepal. The previous cases were further south, in the state of Orissa in February.
Africa: Cameroon raises border biosecurity
The customs agency of the central African state of Cameroon has been told to increase security at the border with Nigeria, according to Journal du Cameroun. Following a reported outbreak of avian influenza in its neighbor, Cameroon’s authorities aim to reduce the risk of the disease entering the country through infected imports.
Based on official reports from Nigeria’s animal health agency to OIE, the most recent HPAI outbreak was in January, and in Nasarawa state, which is in the center of the country.
Europe: HPAI outbreak in Bulgarian poultry
This year’s second outbreak of HPAI linked to an H5 virus variant has been reported by the veterinary authority in Bulgaria to the OIE. Latest to be affected were 6,000 birds at a farm in the eastern province of Jambol, 2,000 of which died of the disease. The rest of the flock has been destroyed. The previous outbreak occurred in early March in the north-east of the country.
In the United Kingdom, a further two wild birds found dead have tested positive for the H5N6 HPAI virus. These cases were in the county of Suffolk in eastern England, and they bring the number of outbreaks in the country’s wild birds to 19 so far this year, according to the agriculture ministry, Defra.
In the Netherlands, transport restrictions put in place following an outbreak of HPAI caused by the H5N6 virus subtype have been lifted, according to the latest report from the Dutch authorities to the OIE. The most recent cases in the wild bird population were in February this year, and there was just one outbreak in commercial poultry in Groningen in December of 2017.
Since March 30, the housing order has been lifted for free-range birds in six regions, according to the Dutch agriculture ministry, based on the results of surveillance of the wild bird population, and the density of poultry-keeping. Seventy free-range egg producers are affected by the easing of these restrictions. When laying hens are housed for more than 16 weeks, their eggs can only be sold as barn eggs, losing the price premium linked to free-range production systems. For the remaining regions, the situation will be reviewed in mid-April.