Taiwan, Turkey, India battle avian flu; OIE calls for vigilance

Taiwan, Turkey, and India reported incursions by three different varieties of avian flu viruses, as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) called on governments to make sure they follow OIE standards for preventing and controlling the globally widespread outbreaks.

Taiwan, which has battled many avian flu outbreaks over the past several months, reported six more H5N2 and two H5N8 outbreaks to the OIE yesterday.

The six H5N2 events involved chicken and goose farms and one abattoir in Yunlin and Changhua counties on the western side of the island and Pingtung County in the south. Among 64,498 susceptible birds, 25,060 died of the infection and the rest were culled to prevent its spread.

The H5N8 virus hit one goose farm in Pingtung County, killing 1,571 of 2,400 birds, and a Yunlin County abattoir, killing 38 of 2,480 chickens. The rest of the birds at both sites were destroyed as a precaution.

H5N1 strikes Turkey again

Meanwhile, Turkey yesterday reported its third recent incursion of H5N1, which resurfaced in the country a few weeks ago after being absent since 2008. The virus killed 137 of 170,000 poultry on a farm in Manisa province, which is near the Aegean Sea in west-central Turkey, Turkish officials told the OIE.

The surviving birds were culled as a precaution, as were all other poultry within 3 kilometers of the farm, the report said.

Also yesterday, India reported two H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in widely separated states—Andhra Pradesh in the southern part of the country and Manipur in the northeast, near Myanmar.

In Manipur, 940 of 21,814 farm poultry succumbed to the virus, while 41,040 of 201,264 village poultry died in Andhra Pradesh, said the report, which did not specify the type of poultry. The surviving birds at both sites were culled. India reported three H5N1 outbreaks in March.

OIE calls for stronger response

In a statement today, the OIE said the occurrence of avian flu outbreaks in more than 35 countries since early 2014 has underlined the importance of meeting OIE standards for preventing and controlling outbreaks.

"The recent upsurge in outbreaks worldwide reaffirms the need for better implementation of the intergovernmental standards adopted by the OIE's 180 member countries on avian influenza surveillance, early detection, rapid response to outbreaks and prevention and control, especially farm biosecurity and, where appropriate, poultry vaccination," the agency said.

The OIE said the widespread H5N1 outbreaks and related human cases that started in 2004 led to the development of international standards for response, and that since then, many national veterinary agencies have learned to manage and contain avian flu.

But after an "apparent lull" in activity for a few years, the OIE noted, avian flu started to pick up again with the emergence of the H7N9 virus in China in 2013. That was followed by the debut of the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus in China and Korea in 2014 and its subsequent spread to India, Europe, and North America. The H5N2 virus circulating in US poultry is believed to be a hybrid of H5N8 and North American viruses from wild birds.

Also, many H5N1 outbreaks have occurred in West African countries in recent months, and the virus is very active in Egypt, the agency noted.

"To prevent the disease from spreading, it is vital to implement OIE-recommended biosecurity measures in farms, in commerce and in live bird markets, disease surveillance and early detection," the OIE said. "While the role of wild birds as reservoirs and vectors of the virus has been highlighted in these various epidemics, other factors of transmission, especially among poultry farms, could rise to prominence unless appropriate precautions are taken."

See also:

May 18 OIE report on H5N2 outbreaks in Taiwan

May 18 OIE report on H5N8 outbreaks in Taiwan

May 18 OIE report on H5N1 outbreak in Turkey

May 19 OIE report on H5N1 in India

May 19 OIE statement

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