Japan has H5N2 avian flu outbreak

Jun 27, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – A Japanese farm is expected to cull most of its 25,000 chickens to prevent the spread of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, identified as A H5N2, that has killed about 800 chickens, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.

The H5N2 strain has not been known to cause any human illness cases, unlike H5N1, which has infected more than 100 people and killed 54 in Southeast Asia since late 2003. But a Dow Jones Newswire story said officials were conducting health examinations of poultry workers in the affected area.

The Japanese government ordered another 16 nearby farms in Ibaraki prefecture to suspend transportation of chickens and eggs, AFP reported.

"We must contain the situation as swiftly as possible to be able to declare an end to it," Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto was quoted as saying in the AFP story.

The outbreak apparently began in April, AFP reported.

The H5N2 strain of avian flu has been responsible for highly pathogenic outbreaks in Pennsylvania (1983-85), Mexico (1994-95), Italy (1997), Texas (2004), and South Africa (2004), according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) report "Assessing the Pandemic Threat."

Japan had four outbreaks of avian flu in 2004, all involving the H5N1 virus, Dow Jones noted.

Elsewhere, Indonesia is changing tactics in its ongoing fight against the H5N1 virus, the minister for agriculture, Anton Apriyantono, told Dow Jones Newswire.

The country will shift from its controversial approach of killing only visibly ill birds and vaccinating others to culling all poultry in outbreak zones, Apriyantono told Dow Jones.

"I've asked my staff to not only do vaccinations . . . but also stamp out [H5N1 outbreaks] and strengthen bio-security," Apriyantono told the news service. "If there's an outbreak, to kill all the birds is better . . . within a certain radius."

Indonesia's policy change comes soon after the country found its first human case of H5N1, in a poultry worker who was not sick but carried antibodies to the virus.

The country's response, however, may be hindered by economics. Farmers have resisted the government's culling approach because they deem the compensation for lost birds inadequate, Dow Jones reported.

"Sometimes the farmers refuse and say, 'If you kill my birds, what am I going to do?' The government doesn't have enough money to compensate them," Apriyantono said.

See also:

WHO report "Assessing the Pandemic Threat"
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2005/WHO_CDS_2005.29.pdf

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