Bangladesh, Thailand report H5N1 in poultry; Canada finds H7N3

Sep 27, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Officials in Bangladesh and Thailand recently reported new H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks on chicken farms, and Canadian authorities today confirmed an outbreak of H7N3 influenza on a commercial poultry farm in Saskatchewan.

The outbreak in Bangladesh occurred in the country's northwestern Bogra district, about 105 miles from Dhaka, the capital, according to a report yesterday from Xinhua, China's state news agency.

An official from Bangladesh's livestock department said 5,000 chickens were culled and buried at the farm, according to a Reuters report today.

The virus was first detected in the country's poultry in March of this year in Savar, near Dhaka, according to previous reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Since then, Bangladesh has reported 28 outbreaks, the last one occurring in May.

In Thailand, government officials today reported positive H5N1 results in chickens raised by a villager in Phichit province in the northern part of the country, the Bangkok Post reported. Local authorities have culled 90 chickens within a 1-kilometer radius of the site and have restricted the transport of birds in the area.

Preecha Ruengchan, Phichit's governor, called an urgent meeting with livestock officials today, the Post report said.

In the past, a number of provinces in Thailand, included Phichit, have reported H5N1 outbreaks. However, only three—Mukdahan, Nong Khai, and Phitsanulok—have had outbreaks this year, according to OIE reports.

Meanwhile, agriculture officials in Canada today announced that a highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of avian flu has been detected in chickens at a commercial poultry operation in Saskatchewan. An employee of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) told CIDRAP News that the birds were tested after some appeared sick or died.

Gerry Ritz, Canada's minister of agriculture and agri-food, emphasized in a statement from the CFIA that the virus was not the lethal H5N1 strain circulating in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

"This situation does not affect food safety when poultry is properly cooked," he said in the statement. "None of the infected products from this farm were destined for the human food supply."

The H7N3 strain is not normally associated with serious human illness, the CFIA said.

All birds within 1 kilometer of the affected farm will be culled, and poultry movements have been restricted within 3 kilometers of the farm, the CFIA noted.

The agency said it is investigating the recent movement of birds, bird products, and equipment to and from the affected property.

OIE reports indicate that Canada has had no other outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian flu since 2004. In that year, an H7N3 virus struck 40 commercial poultry farms in southern British Columbia's Fraser Valley, leading to the culling of millions of chickens. Two mild cases of H7 influenza in poultry workers were reported in connection with that outbreak.

Also in 2004, an H7N3 outbreak on a farm in Texas led to the culling of 24,000 birds.

See also:

OIE reports on H5N1 outbreaks in Bangladesh and Thailand

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