H5N1 hits more poultry farms in Japan, Myanmar

Feb 7, 2011 (CIDRAP News) - Japan and Myanmar recently reported fresh H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks at poultry farms, with Japan also finding the virus in more wild birds, according to official reports and local media sources.

Veterinary officials in Japan's Miyazaki prefecture on Feb 5 confirmed that the H5N1 avian influenza virus struck another commercial poultry farm, bringing to 8 the number of outbreaks in the prefecture and raising to 12 the number of H5N1 outbreaks to strike Japanese farms, according to a Feb 5 Kyodo News story.

Authorities detected the disease after dozens of birds at the broiler chicken farm died on Feb 3 and 4. About 57,000 birds at the farm and related facilities were culled to block the spread of the virus.

Japan also continues to find H5N1 in wild birds. According to a Feb 4 update to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), animal health authorities have recently confirmed the virus in wild birds seven more times in six different prefectures over the past few weeks. Species include a whooper swan, a black-headed gull, a common pochard, a little grebe, a Mandarin duck, and five tufted ducks.

Meanwhile, officials in Nagasaki prefecture found the virus in a tufted duck found dead along with two others at a pond in the city of Nagasaki, according to the Feb 5 Kyodo report.

Elsewhere, Myanmar reported another H5N1 outbreak, according to a Feb 4 OIE report. The virus hit two farms housing 18-month-old layer chickens in Sagaing state, located in the central part of the country. The virus killed about half of the 990 chickens over the course of 5 days in late January. The remaining birds were culled to control the spread of the disease.

In January Myanmar reported 7 outbreaks at poultry farms in Rakhine state. They were the country's first since March 2010.

In other H5N1 developments, an analysis of recent outbreaks at South Korean poultry farms suggests a link to contact with migratory wild birds, Joo Yi-seok, who heads the animal disease control bureau at the country's National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service, said in a government statement to Yonhap News, South Korea's news agency.

He said direct contact with infected birds, contamination by people and vehicles that spread bird droppings, and tainted feed and rice husk poultry bedding may have played a role in 22 of the confirmed H5N1 findings, he said. Virus samples are nearly identical to the ones found in Chinese and Mongolian birds that winter in South Korea, Joo said, according to Bernama News today.

The latest round of H5N1 outbreaks at South Korean poultry farms, which total 45 so far, according to the OIE, began in November 2010 after a 2-year hiatus.

Joo predicted that the virus will hit more of the country's poultry farms as long as the migratory birds are in South Korea, typically until April, Bernama reported.

See also:

Feb 4 OIE report on H5N1 in Japanese wild birds

Feb 4 OIE report on Myanmar outbreak

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