Three countries report fresh H5N1 outbreaks

Dec 18, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Authorities from Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Egypt reported that the H5N1 avian influenza virus has struck poultry again, according to new reports.

Kao Phal, an agriculture ministry official in Cambodia, said the virus was detected in poultry in a village in Kandal province, where a 19-year-old man got sick after handling a dead chicken, according to an Associated Press (AP) report yesterday. The outbreak is Cambodia's first since April 2007, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The man's illness was reported last week.

The ministry said three ducks and one chicken tested positive for the H5N1 virus and that veterinarians have culled about 320 birds to stop the spread of the disease.

Ly Sovann, an avian flu expert with Cambodia's health ministry, told the AP that the man is recovering but remains hospitalized.

Meanwhile, livestock officials in Bangladesh reported yesterday that the H5N1 virus struck two commercial poultry farms, one in Rajshahi district, in the northwestern part of the country near the border with India, and one about 30 miles northeast of Dhaka, the capital, according to a report from the OIE. The country's last outbreak occurred in late September, striking a different poultry farm in Rajshahi.

Veterinary workers culled 3,781 birds at the two farms to contain the outbreak.

Elsewhere, animal health authorities in Egypt reported on Nov 27 that they had detected the virus in chickens in Minya governorate in central Egypt, according to a report that appeared today on the Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR) Web site. SAIDR is a Johns Hopkins University project designed to help Egypt coordinate avian flu efforts with its international partners.

The outbreak involved 15 backyard birds in a village in Minya's Beni Mazar district, according to the SAIDR report. The birds had been vaccinated in August.

Though the H5N1 virus is endemic in Egypt, the country's last reported outbreak occurred in mid-June among backyard birds in Luxor governorate, according to the OIE. The country's most recent human case, in a 16-year-old girl whose death was confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Dec 16, was in Asyut governorate, about 50 miles south of Minya.

According to an incident report on the SAIDR Web site detailing the veterinary investigation that followed the girl's death, several birds near her home had been sick or died before she got sick. Neighbors had discarded the dead birds in a nearby drainage ditch. The girl's family said they had recently bought and eaten two ducks. After one of the ducks died, the family quickly slaughtered the second one.

In other developments, animal health officials in India today said they sealed part of its border with Bangladesh to help control the spread of the H5N1 virus, according to a Reuters report. Anisur Rahman, animal resource minister of West Bengal state, told Reuters the border closure affects the crossing between Malda district, where authorities have culled about 10,000 birds following recent outbreaks, and Bangladesh.

He said the virus could have been spread by chickens and ducks smuggled from Bangladesh, Reuters reported.

India is also battling outbreaks in Assam state.

Meanwhile, an official from Indonesia's agriculture ministry told the Jakarta Post yesterday that the government plans intensive measures against avian flu for the next 3 years hopes to stamp it out by 2014, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported yesterday.

Tjeppy D. Soedjana, the ministry's director general for animal husbandry, told the Post, "If all goes well, the nation will be free of the highly pathogenic bird flu virus by 2014."

According to Xinhua, he said the ministry has stopped the spread of the virus in only two of its 33 provinces: Gorontalo, in North Sulawesi, and North Maluku..

Agriculture ministry records show that 294 regencies in 31 provinces have had avian flu outbreaks so far this year, which is up from 158 regencies and 25 provinces hit by outbreaks last year, according to the Xinhua report.

In other avian flu news, officials in Germany on Dec 12 reported an outbreak of a low-pathogenic H5N3 virus at a commercial turkey farm in Cloppenburg, in the northwestern part of the country, according to an OIE report. The virus sickened 45 birds, and 8,400 others were culled to control the outbreak.

Authorities did not identify the source of the virus. In October an H5N3 virus was detected at a zoo and another site in Leipzig in eastern Germany, according to OIE reports.

See also:

Dec 17 OIE report on Bangladesh outbreak

Dec 12 OIE report on Germany's low-path outbreak

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