H5N1 outbreaks confirmed in Israel, Pakistan

Mar 21, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Israel and Pakistan are the latest countries to join the lengthening list of nations dealing with outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza in birds, while officials in Russia and Malaysia are worried about growing numbers of outbreaks, according to news services.

Israeli officials yesterday confirmed several H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, about 4 days after a suspected outbreak was reported at a kibbutz in southern Israel. Today, Pakistan confirmed that outbreaks at two chicken farms, first reported in late February, involved the H5N1 virus.

In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Israeli officials said H5N1 struck turkeys on three farms and in one village, killing 11,800 and prompting the culling of another 56,700. The report was dated Mar 17 but was posted by the OIE yesterday. Culling of the affected flocks began Mar 18, according to an Associated Press report yesterday.

A Bloomberg News report yesterday quoted the Israeli agriculture ministry as saying, "As of now we have identified only four concentrations of the disease, which indicates that the situation is under control. Even if further concentrations are discovered we aren't speaking about an uncontrolled spread." The report said three outbreaks were in the Negev region in southern Israel and the other was about 16 miles from Jerusalem.

The story said four people who had been suspected of having H5N1 infections tested negative.

The agriculture ministry was hoping to destroy a total of 800,000 birds by the end of this week, according to a report in today's Jerusalem Post.

In Pakistan, officials said the European Union's reference laboratory in Britain had confirmed H5N1 on two farms where an H5 virus was first detected last month, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today. The government previously killed 25,000 birds and sealed off the farms in the North West Frontier province.

Another outbreak was suspected in the southern city of Hyderabad, but tests were negative, AFP reported.

The chairman of the Pakistan Poultry Association, Raza Mahmood Khursand, said the virus had not spread beyond the two farms where it was first found, according to AFP. He said the country had already vaccinated all its chicken flocks after importing vaccines at the beginning of March.

The AFP story said Pakistan destroyed 3.5 million birds in 2003 after outbreaks of H7 and H9 strains of avian flu.

In Russia, the nation's chief veterinarian said the number of poultry killed by avian flu or culled in containment effort so far this year is already double the total for last year, according to another AFP report today.

Speaking at a veterinary conference, Sergei Dankvert said Russia has lost 1.3 million birds to avian flu this year, compared with 662,000 for all of 2005, according to the story.

Fifty-six towns in nine regions have been affected by the disease this year, compared with 62 towns in 10 regions last year, Dankvert said. The virus is still present in 40 towns and has affected some factory farms for the first time this year, he added.

The virus has struck farms in the southern regions of Stavropol, Krasnodar, and Dagestan, where "health and veterinary rules were not respected," Dankvert was quoted as saying.

He said the government plans to vaccinate poultry in "particularly endangered regions."

In Malaysia, the deputy agriculture minister warned that the H5N1 virus could spread throughout the country after two more bird outbreaks were reported, raising the number in the past month to six, according to a separate AFP report today.

An official in the northern state of Perak reported two new avian flu outbreaks there, the story said. A local official said no birds died in the two outbreaks, but veterinary officials planned to cull about 3,000 birds.

Malaysia's first H5N1 outbreak in more than a year was reported about Feb 20 in four villages near Kuala Lumpur. Last week authorities reported two more outbreaks, including one in an ecological park, and another was reported yesterday in a village in Penang state, which borders Perak, according to AFP.

In other news:

  • Yesterday Kazakhstan reported its first H5N1 case this year, in a swan found dead on the shore of the Caspian Sea, according to AFP. Northern Kazakhstan had an H5N1 outbreak in poultry in mid-2005, leading to the culling of thousands of poultry, the story noted. It said the government began vaccinating 8 million poultry last month to protect them from possible exposure to the virus from migratory birds.
  • Afghanistan reported finding an H5 virus in dead chickens in the eastern province of Kunar, which borders Pakistan, according to AFP. The country's first H5N1 outbreaks were confirmed last week in the capital, Kabul, and in Nangahar province, which adjoins Kunar. A health official said the new outbreak is very likely to be H5N1.

See also:

Israel's report to the OIE
http://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2006_AI.php

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