Israel among countries reporting new H5N1 outbreaks

Jan 3, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Animal health officials in Israel today notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of an H5 avian influenza outbreak at a site near Haifa, and media outlets are reporting that final tests have confirmed the virus is the lethal H5N1subtype.

Eighteen of 20 chickens at a petting zoo adjacent to a kindergarten in the city of Binyamina in northern Israel were found dead this morning, reported Xinhua, China's state news agency.

Shmuel Rishpon, a Haifa district physician, said the kindergarten staff has been given preventive medicine and authorities believe none of the children or parents had contact with the birds.

According to the OIE report, only chickens at the zoo were struck by the virus. Eight ducks and four pigeons were also housed with the chickens in a small enclosure.

Polymerase chain reaction testing at Israel's national laboratory at Kimron Veterinary Institute on samples from the infected birds were positive for the H5 serotype, but neuraminidase inhibition assay tests were pending, the OIE report said.

However, the agriculture ministry said today the birds had the lethal H5N1 strain, according to the Jerusalem Post. Israel's agriculture ministry received final test results from its department of veterinary services, indicating the birds had the H5N1 subtype, Globes Online, an Israeli business media outlet, reported today.

The remaining birds were destroyed, and health officials placed a 3-kilometer protection zone and a 10-kilometer surveillance zone around the outbreak area, said the OIE report.

Israel's last H5N1 outbreak, which hit domestic poultry, occurred in March 2006, according to reports from the UN Food and Animal Organization (FAO). No human H5N1 cases or deaths have been reported in Israel.

Elsewhere, animal health officials in Vietnam said the H5N1 virus killed 350 white-winged ducks in northern Vietnam's Thai Nguyen province, according to a Reuters report today. The outbreak occurred at a farm in 2-month-old ducks. Animal health workers culled the remaining birds, the report said.

The H5N1 virus also struck ducks and chickens in Tra Vinh province in southern Vietnam's Mekong Delta, Reuters reported.

Officials in Bangladesh yesterday said the H5N1 virus was detected on a poultry farm in Dinajpur in the northern part of the country, prompting the culling of 300 chickens, according to another Reuters report.

In other developments, the state media in Myanmar on Dec 29 reported an outbreak of the H5N1 virus in chickens in a village near the Myanmar border with Thailand, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The New Light of Myanmar, the state-run newspaper, said the outbreak occurred in a village in Shan state among domestic chickens and was reported to livestock officials on Dec 23, according to the AP report.

See also:

OIE reports on Israeli avian flu outbreak

FAO update on H5N1 in birds

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