Avian flu in South Korea, Taiwan prompts massive culling

South Korea and Taiwan have destroyed more than 2.7 million poultry in recent weeks and months in efforts to halt highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks of the H5N8 and H5N2 varieties, according to reports posted yesterday by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In addition, South Vietnam has reported another H5N1 avian flu outbreak, and low-pathogenicity avian flu (LPAI) H7N7 recently struck a turkey farm in Germany, according to media and OIE reports.

The latest outbreaks prolong a string of avian flu episodes that have surfaced this winter in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. Last week the World Health Organization said the diversity and geographic extent of recent avian flu outbreaks are greater than at any time since the debut of modern surveillance methods.

South Korea cites 65 H5N8 outbreaks

A South Korean report posted by the OIE yesterday describes 65 H5N8 outbreaks dating all the way from late last September to late January and involving about 2.6 million poultry. The report profiles 22 stand-alone outbreaks and "outbreak clusters" including from 2 to 13 individual incidents.

The affected sites had a total of 2,589,062 birds, including ducks, chickens, geese, and doves. Only 177 cases, all fatal, were reported, but all the rest of the birds were destroyed to stop the virus. Most of the outbreaks were in the southwest and northwest of the country, with a few in the southeast, according to a map in the report.

South Korea had widespread H5N8 outbreaks in January and February of 2014, followed by isolated outbreaks in June and July.

Taiwan reports H5N2, H5N8 outbreaks

Meanwhile, Taiwan reported that seven recent H5N2 outbreaks and two H5N8 eruptions have forced the destruction of about 180,000 poultry, according to two reports posted by the OIE yesterday. The country has had many H5N2, H5N8, and H5N3 outbreaks this winter.

The report said the seven H5N2 outbreaks involved six farms and one abbatoir and killed 29,960 of 177,328 susceptible chickens and geese, prompting the culling of all the rest. They occurred in the city of Tainan and in Yunlin, Pingtung, and Changhua counties. Authorities said all farms within 3 kilometers of the affected ones would be under surveillance for 90 days, among other precautions.

Taiwan authorities said H5N8 struck a turkey farm in Tainan and a goose farm in Yunlin County, both in the southwest. The virus killed 782 of 1,250 turkeys and 613 of 2,500 geese, prompting the culling of all the rest.

Findings in Vietnam and Germany

In Vietnam, the H5N1 virus hit a poultry farm in the southern province of Soc Trang, according to a Xinhua report today. Provincial veterinary officials said more than 1,100 birds were culled, among other response measures to arrest the virus. The story didn't specify what type of poultry was affected.

And in Germany, an LPAI H7N7 virus sickened 2,320 of 23,500 turkeys, killing 100 of them, on a farm in the northwestern state of Lower Saxony, according to an OIE report posted yesterday. All the rest of the turkeys were destroyed.

See also:

Mar 4 OIE report on H5N8 in South Korea

Mar 4 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan

Mar 4 OIE report on H5N8 in Taiwan

Mar 5 Xinhua report on H5N1 in Vietnam

Mar 4 OIE report on H7N7 in Germany

Feb 26 CIDRAP News story on WHO statement about avian flu

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