Avian flu strikes more birds in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Nigeria

Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Nigeria reported new highly pathogenic avian influenza detections, all involving different strains and signaling ongoing activity in poultry.

Hong Kong's agriculture ministry today announced that the H5N6 virus has been detected in a chicken carcass that washed ashore at Tai O, a fishing town on the southwest part of Lantau Island, raising suspicion that local people might be violating a ban on raising backyard poultry.

Second recent H5N6 detection

Tests revealed H5N6 in the carcass on Feb 18, but the agriculture ministry said there are no poultry farms in the 3-km area around where the chicken was found. The ministry said the backyard poultry ban has been in place since 2006 and that its staff will inspect the area around where the bird was found to see if there are any illegal poultry.

Today's announcement closely follows the ministry's Feb 19 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) about a positive H5N6 finding in one of four chicken carcasses that washed up on the shore of a beach at Tuen Mun on Feb 14.

Hong Kong is one of four jurisdictions, along with China, Laos, and Vietnam, that have reported H5N6 in birds. In November Hong Kong officials reported H5N6 in a robin found dead during intensive wild-bird surveillance.

H5N8 and H5N2 in Taiwan

Taiwan reported six more avian flu outbreaks, according to separate reports yesterday to the OIE. One involved H5N8 and the five others cited the H5N2 strain. Taiwan has been battling both viruses in poultry over the last several months.

The H5N8 outbreak began on Jan 30, striking a goose farm in Pingtung County, killing 536 of 1,200 susceptible birds. Authorities culled the remaining geese to curb the spread of the virus.

The H5N2 outbreaks began between Jan 29 and Feb 14, affecting farms in four different areas: two in Yunlin County, one each in Changhua and Pingtung counties, and one in the city of Tainan. Three facilities housed chickens and two raised geese.

Of 41,125 birds at the five locations, the virus killed 18,259, with the remaining ones destroyed as a control measure.

More H5N1 in Nigeria

Livestock officials in Nigeria yesterday reported 12 more H5N1 outbreaks, eight of them at farms and four in backyard birds. All of the outbreaks at the commercial farms involved layer flocks.

The latest round of outbreaks began between Feb 11 and 17. Of 22,259 susceptible birds at the 12 sites, the virus killed 636, with the remaining ones culled to control the virus’s spread.

A handful of African countries have been hit by a resurgence of H5N1 activity over the past year, but Nigeria has been hardest hit.

See also:

Feb 23 Hong Kong agriculture ministry statement

Feb 19 OIE report on H5N6 in Hong Kong

Feb 22 OIE report on H5N8 in Taiwan

Feb 22 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan

Feb 22 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria

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