India finds H5N1 in poultry after 1-year hiatus

Jul 25, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Animal health officials in India announced today that samples from chickens at a poultry farm in the remote northeastern Manipur state were positive for the H5N1 avian flu virus, signaling the country's first outbreak in more than a year.

The farm where the chickens with the H5N1 virus were found is near India's border with Myanmar, a country that reported outbreaks earlier this year, Bimal Singh, a senior official in the Manipur chief minister's office, told the Associated Press (AP) today.

Health officials were sent to the area and began slaughtering chickens and other poultry in a 5-km radius around Chenngmeirong village, where dead chickens were found earlier this month, he told the AP. Samples were sent to the High Risk Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, he said.

The Times of India reported today that 132 chickens died over 6 days in early July, and that the deaths were reported on Jul 7. More than 20 people who handled infected poultry before the birds died have been quarantined, the Times reported. The handlers and six veterinary workers have been given oseltamivir (Tamiflu), but none have shown any respiratory symptoms, the report said.

India's last confirmed H5N1 outbreak occurred in April 2006 in domestic poultry, according to a report from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The country has reported no human H5N1 cases.

In other avian flu news, animal health officials in Vietnam have recently reported poultry outbreaks in two more provinces, Quang Binh in the central part of the country and Dong Thap in the south.

The outbreak in Quang Binh involved more than 200 ducks that were found dead on a farm, Vietnamese News Service (VNS) reported today. Local veterinarians culled about 3,000 remaining ducks and disinfected the area, the VNS report said.

In the Dong Thap outbreak, the H5N1 virus killed 20 chickens of a 400-bird flock, Thanh Nien News reported yesterday. The chickens had reportedly been vaccinated under a national program, but tests conducted at a regional veterinary center found that about 170 chickens from the flock did not have antibodies to the virus, suggesting that they had not been vaccinated.

The company that handled the mass vaccination campaign admitted the vaccinations were inadequate and said it would compensate the farmers, the news report said.

See also:

May 31 FAO avian flu bulletin with chart of H5N1 outbreaks by country
http://www.fao.org/docs/eims/upload//228650/AIDENews_may07_no46.pdf

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