Sep 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Agriculture officials in Togo today confirmed that the H5N1 avian influenza virus was responsible for suspicious poultry deaths that had recently been reported in a village in the southern part of the country.
Kossi Messan Ewovor, Togo's agriculture and livestock minister, said in a statement that tests in Ghana on samples from the birds were positive for the H5N1 virus, according to a report from Reuters.
The outbreak was initially reported by media outlets on Sep 9. The outbreak site is a poultry farm in the village of Agbata, near Lome, the capital, according to previous reports. The farm reportedly had about 4,800 birds.
The minister's statement said about 4,000 poultry died, but it's not clear if animal health officials culled any of the birds.
Togo's last H5N1 outbreaks occurred in June 2007 at poultry farms in the southern part of the country, according to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Those outbreaks were the first to be confirmed in Togo.
In other developments, agriculture authorities in New Zealand said today that low-pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in wild mallard ducks, according to a report from the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA). The H5 strain was identified during surveillance of healthy birds at seven sites in New Zealand, the story said . The surveillance took place in February and involved sampling 1,241 birds.
Andre van Halderen, an official with New Zealand's agriculture and forestry ministry, said the virus that was identified in the ducks is closely related to viruses that have been found in the past and aren't new to the country.
Since 1975 more than 5,000 wild birds have been sampled in New Zealand, of which a small number tested positive for low-pathogenic H5 or H7 subtypes, the NZPA report said.
New Zealand has never reported a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds, according to the report.
Findings in New Zealand's wild birds are similar to those in the United States. An update today from the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Early Detection Data System (HEDDS), representing wild-bird surveillance by federal and state agencies, says 27,231 birds have been sampled this year. Eight samples tested positive for presumed low-pathogenic avian influenza. Confirmatory tests revealed that one of the eight viruses was H2N9; testing is underway to confirm the subtype of the seven others.
OIE reports on 2007 Togo outbreaks
OIE reports on 2008 Togo outbreaks
HEDDS national avian influenza surveillance information Web site