FAO warns about further H5N1 spread in West Africa
Over concern that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreaks will continue to spread in West Africa, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called for $20 million to assist with prevention and response activities, according to an FAO news article.
The plea follows recent HPAI H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. The region experienced an incursion of the disease in 2006, but it was eliminated from West Africa in 2008. It then re-emerged late last year in Nigeria, the story noted. It spread from there, causing the deaths of 1.6 million birds so far.
Because H5N1 can infect humans, the FAO is working closely with the World Health Organization on country assessments, contingency plans, and other assistance.
"There is a real risk of further virus spread. Urgent action is needed to strengthen veterinary investigation and reporting systems in the region and tackle the disease at the root, before there is a spillover to humans," said Juan Lubroth, DVM, PhD, head of the FAO's Animal Health Service Division.
The agency will allocate the $20 million for bolstering weak veterinary systems, upgrading local labs, and putting FAO specialists on the ground in affected and at-risk nations, the story said.
Jul 20 FAO news story
Two more Taiwanese H5N2 outbreaks confirmed
Taiwan today reported two new outbreaks of HPAI H5N2 in poultry, the latest in a string of such events, according to a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) report.
The first outbreak, which began Jul 2, affected a farm in Yunlin County in western Taiwan housing 7,700 ducks. After 1,533 of the birds died from the disease, the remainder were culled to prevent disease spread.
The second outbreak involves an abattoir in Pingtung County in the south with 1,376 native chickens. Seven of the birds died from H5N2, and the rest were euthanized. The outbreak began Jul 8.
Of 9,076 susceptible birds on the two properties, 1,540 died from infection and 7,536 were destroyed. Other response efforts include restriction of poultry movement and disinfection of the holdings.
Taiwan has battled dozens of outbreaks of avian flu this year, most caused by H5N2.
Jul 20 OIE report
WHO provides details on 5 recent H7N9 cases in China
The WHO over the weekend provided details on five H7N9 avian flu cases in China that have already been reported by local public health officials.
All the patients are men, from 58 to 77 years old, with a median age of 66. Three of the patients died, and the other two are in severe condition, the WHO said in a statement.
Two of the cases occurred in Anhui province, with one each in Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Zhejiang. All involved exposure to poultry or their environment. Illness-onset dates range from May 26 to Jun 18. The cases were all unrelated to each other.
The WHO said the Chinese government, which reported this information to the WHO on Jul 16, has strengthened its outbreak surveillance, reinforced medical treatment, and conducted risk communication with the public in response to H7N9 cases. The agency added that the overall risk to the public has not changed, with cases decreasing in recent weeks.
Jul 18 WHO statement