Number of avian flu outbreaks in France doubles, to 30

France is now reporting 30 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks, but the exact strain involved in the 15 latest events is not yet known, its agriculture ministry reported today, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) noted a new strain in the country, albeit a low-pathogenic one.

In related news, Vietnam and Nigeria reported new H5N1 avian flu outbreaks, and Minnesota lifted the last of its HPAI-related quarantines that were enacted after outbreaks earlier this year.

Still only SW France affected

The latest HPAI outbreaks in France include 3 in Dordogne region, 9 in Landes, and 3 in Gers, all in the southwestern part of the country, according to an agriculture ministry post today translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog. Five of the outbreaks happened on Dec 14, 2 in Dordogne and 3 in Landes, while the rest were reported yesterday.

All outbreaks were attributed to H5 strains, but the exact strain was not specified for any of them. So far H5N1, H5N2, and H5N9 HPAI strains have been confirmed in the previous 15 outbreaks.

The new strain identified in an OIE report yesterday is low-pathogenic H5N3, which was detected on three farms that are not included in France's other 30 outbreaks. Two of the farms are in Landes, and the other is in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region, both in far southwestern France.

The farms house from 570 to 1,430 poultry, and the outbreaks began on Dec 6 and Dec 8. Tests conducted as part of countrywide surveillance came back positive for H5N3 on Dec 10 and Dec 13. As is typical with low-path avian flu, no birds were culled to contain the spread of the virus.

H5N1 in Vietnam, Nigeria

In Vietnam, meanwhile, HPAI H5N1 avian flu has struck a backyard flock of 42,000 poultry, killing 1,900 birds, according to a separate OIE report today. The surviving birds were culled to prevent disease spread.

The outbreak began on Dec 3 in Viung Tua province in the south, and authorities have implemented their usual response measures, such as disinfecting the premises.

In Nigeria, two separate OIE reports yesterday detailed three H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The first report detailed two outbreaks in the southern states of Edo and Lagos. The first outbreak, which began Dec 11, affected a farm of 3,150 chickens and turkeys in Edo and resulted in the loss of 580 birds, with the remainder of the flock culled.

The Lagos outbreak involved 1,800 egg-laying chickens, of which 300 were felled by the virus. All surviving chickens were euthanized. That outbreak began Dec 12.

The third Nigerian outbreak also began Dec 12, in Kaduna state in the north, according to a second OIE report filed by Nigerian officials. The affected farm housed 7,500 laying hens, and H5N1 killed 1,500 of them. The remaining 6,000 birds were culled to prevent disease spread.

Both Vietnam and Nigeria have been hit by multiple H5N1 outbreaks this year.

Minnesota lifts quarantines

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) said it has lifted the last quarantines on poultry farms that were infected with HPAI earlier this year, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday.

MBAH said 90% of the 108 infected farms were cleared to restock birds on Oct 6, and now the remaining 10% are cleared. H5N2 outbreaks hit more than 9 million Minnesota birds this spring.

Officials said restocked poultry have all tested negative for avian flu. The last outbreak in the state was confirmed on Jun 9.

See also:

Dec 16 Avian Flu Diary blog post

Dec 15 OIE report on H5N3 in France

Dec 16 OIE report on H5N1 in Vietnam

Dec 15 OIE report on 2 H5N1 outbreaks in Nigeria

Dec 15 OIE report on 1 H5N1 outbreak in Nigeria

Dec 15 AP story

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