China reports H5N1 outbreak in Guangdong

Jun 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – China's agriculture ministry today announced an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak at a village in Guangdong province, not far from Hong Kong, where officials recently found the virus in live-bird markets.

The ministry said the outbreak in Guangdong struck 3,873 ducks in Yashan Village, where 17,127 ducks were culled to prevent the spread of the virus, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. The ministry did not say when the outbreak began.

Mainland China's last reported outbreak occurred in early April at a poultry farm in Tibet, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). A few weeks before that outbreak, officials reported an outbreak in Guangdong province that hit chickens at a market in the city of Guangzhou.

On Jun 7, animal health officials in Hong Kong, located on Guangdong's south-central border on the Pearl River delta, announced they had found the H5N1 virus in chicken droppings gathered at poultry markets. A few days later they found the virus in droppings at additional markets, which led to the culling of all market poultry.

Authorities suspended all shipments of birds from the mainland and local farms for 3 weeks. Officials haven't yet found the source of the virus.

Elsewhere, the news media in Vietnam are reporting an H5N1 outbreak at a household in the central province of Quang Ngai, according to a report from Xinhua today. The virus has struck 690 chickens since Jun 12 and was also responsible for outbreak in Tra Vinh province, in southern Vietnam, the newspaper The People, Vietnam's Communist Party publication, reported.

Bui Ba Bong, an agriculture minister, told the Vietnam Economic Times that though the number of new outbreaks has declined, the country should maintain its prevention efforts and spur more research on the disease, Xinhua reported. He said the country is exploring more than 30 variants of the avian flu virus that have been isolated from poultry and wild birds.

In other developments, the United Kingdom today published an epidemiology report on a highly pathogenic H7N7 outbreak that was confirmed at a farm in Oxfordshire on Jun 4. The report from the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that as of Jun 11 the outbreak was confined to a single farm, but an investigation into the source of the virus would continue, according to a DEFRA press release.

The report said the highly pathogenic H7N7 strain found at the farm could have evolved from a low-pathogenic strain that was already present there, though authorities are investigating a number of other possibilities, the press release said.

Nigel Gibbens, DEFRA's chief veterinary officer, said in the press release that the United Kingdom has a steady but low risk for avian influenza outbreaks. "The report highlights the need for flock owners and poultry vets to remain vigilant for signs of the disease, including the possibility of low pathogenic avian influenza," he said.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry in Haiti on Jun 12 reported three outbreaks of low-pathogenic H5N2 avian flu in birds at three locations in the central, northern, and southern parts of the country, according to a report from the OIE. The outbreaks began on May 20 and appeared to be ongoing.

Among the three sites, 87 birds were exposed to the virus and 11 were sickened. No deaths were reported, according to the report. Birds at the locations included chickens, a turkey, and fighting cocks. Some did not show clinical signs of disease.

The report listed illegal animal movements and the introduction of new live animals as sources of the infection. Some officials in Haiti have suspected the H5N2 virus could have come from the Dominican Republic, which reported H5N2 outbreaks in late 2007, according to a Jun 15 report from Prensa Latina, a news agency based in Cuba. However, Haitian ambassador Jose Serulle said the virus could have come from anywhere.

See also:

OIE reports on 2008 Chinese H5N1 outbreaks

Jun 11 CIDRAP News story "Hong Kong finds more H5N1, culls all market poultry"

Jun 17 DEFRA press release

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