Aug 27, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Agriculture officials in Benin recently reported that two chickens at a live poultry market tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, the country's first outbreak since the virus was detected there at the end of 2007.
Authorities found the virus during routine surveillance at a market in Lokossa, the capital of Mono department, located in the southern part of the country near the coast, according to an Aug 25 report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Testing performed at Benin's national laboratory in Parakou revealed H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to the report. The surveillance activity at the Lokossa market was also a training exercise for the lab's managers and officials, the OIE report said. In December 2007, when the country confirmed its first H5N1 outbreak, the samples were tested at an Italian lab.
Animal health officials have not determined the source of the outbreak, according to the report. Authorities disinfected market stalls and have restricted the movement of poultry within the country.
Outbreaks in 2007 affected two farms, also located near Benin's southern coastal area, according to previous reports. Several countries surrounding Benin have reported poultry outbreaks over the past few years, including Nigeria, Togo, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
In other developments, agriculture officials in Vietnam said yesterday that an unusual strain of H5N1 virus is starting to appear in smuggled poultry, the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported in a sketchy story today. Bui Quang Anh, head of the agriculture ministry's animal health department, told VNA that the strain poses a high risk of infecting humans and had previously caused an outbreak in China.
Anh told VNA that the H5N1 strain was named "seven." The story did not mention a clade number. Typically, the story said, "strain one" of the H5N1 virus has infected birds in the Mekong delta, while strains two, three, and four have been found to infect birds in the country's Red River Basin.
Nguyen Van Cam, director of Vietnam's Central Animal Diagnosis Centre, told VNA the lab was doing more tests to better characterize the strain and that he expected results soon.
OIE reports on 2008 outbreaks
Dec 17, 2007, CIDRAP News story "Benin confirms its first H5N1 outbreaks"