Nigeria, Israel, West Bank fight avian flu in poultry

H5N1 avian influenza has erupted in new outbreaks in Nigeria, Israel, and probably Palestine's West Bank in recent days, as a winter of high avian flu activity continues.

In addition, US officials reported more details on the highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak on a California turkey farm, including that the farm housed 145,000 birds before the virus surfaced.

Nigerian outbreaks far from earlier ones

H5N1 opened a new front in Nigeria, with eight outbreaks in the country's south and southwest, according to a report the government filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday. On Jan 23 Nigeria had reported seven outbreaks in central and north-central locations.

The latest Nigerian outbreaks involved a total of 12,055 sick birds, with 12,037 deaths, out of 28,274 susceptible ones. Most of the outbreaks targeted farms with layer chickens, but a zoo and a market in Lagos also were hit. Officials said they found 30 cases with 12 deaths among various bird species at the zoo and 113 fatal cases at the market. The source of the virus was listed as unknown.

The report said officials planned to quarantine and disinfect the affected sites, but it did not mention plans to destroy surviving birds, which is the typical response to highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks.

Israeli and Palestinian outbreaks

In the wake of an H5N1 outbreak on a big turkey farm in Haifa last week, Israeli authorities on Jan 25 informed the OIE of outbreaks involving broiler chickens and turkeys on two farms in the northern town of Hadera, about 28 miles from Haifa.

The outbreaks resulted in 18,500 cases among 57,000 susceptible birds, with 6,700 deaths; the rest of the birds were destroyed. Israeli authorities said the recent H5N1 outbreaks are the first in the country since 2012.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an H5 outbreak erupted in a northern location not far from Hadera, according to a Jan 24 OIE report from Palestinian officials. The virus struck all the layer hens in a flock of 5,000, killing 4,500 of them and prompting culling of the rest.

Officials said the virus is assumed to have reached the farm via people, vehicles, feed, or other fomites. Results of tests to further characterize the virus were pending.

The outbreak follows one that killed 12,000 of 17,400 turkeys in Jenin, near the northern border of the West Bank, according to an OIE report filed Jan 20.

California H5N8 numbers

Meanwhile, US officials told the OIE yesterday that an H5N8 avian flu outbreak that recently struck a California turkey farm killed 4,500 of 145,000 birds at the site. The outbreak was the first H5N8 event in US commercial poultry after a series of H5N8 detections in wild birds and a backyard flock in the past few weeks.

US Department of Agriculture officials said the outbreak affected only one turkey building, housing 9,000 birds, at the farm. Officials previously announced plans to destroy all the surviving turkeys on the farm to stop the outbreak.

The report also said genetic sequencing indicated that the outbreak virus is more than 99% similar to the H5N8 found in a gyrfalcon in northwestern Washington state in December. The California outbreak occurred in Stanislaus County in the Central Valley.

More H5N8 in Germany

In another development, 1 of 36 birds on a farm in northeastern Germany died of an H5N8 infection, prompting culling of the rest of the flock, according to a German report to the OIE yesterday.

The case occurred in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which has had other H5N8 detections in the past few months. The report didn't specify the type of poultry involved.

See also:

Jan 26 Nigerian report to OIE

Jan 26 OIE report on California turkey farm H5N8 outbreak

Jan 25 Israeli report to OIE

Jan 24 Palestinian report to OIE

Jan 26 German report to OIE

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