More avian flu outbreaks detected in four countries

A Bangladesh lab investigation into deaths of crows in one of the country's major western cities yesterday confirmed highly pathogenic H5N1 as the cause, and authorities in France, Nigeria, and Vietnam reported more outbreaks involving it and other strains.

The outbreaks in France, Nigeria, and Vietnam signal ongoing avian flu activity in each country, though the strains differ.

Bangladesh outbreak first since June 2014

On Feb 4, crow deaths were reported to livestock officials in the city of Rajshahi, a commercial town near the border with India. Initial tests revealed involvement of H5 avian influenza, with tests at Bangladesh's national reference lab confirming the H5N1 subtype yesterday.

According to information reported yesterday to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), 40 crows died. The detection is Bangladesh's first since June 2014. However, the virus is thought to be still circulating there. A 60-year-old man who was infected with the virus last October was said to have had contact with live poultry before he got sick, according to a Jan 20 update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Latest French outbreak involved H5N1

France's latest outbreak was detected at a hatchery in Landes department during ongoing avian flu surveillance, according to a report yesterday to the OIE. Landes is one of eight French provinces in the southwestern part of the country that have reported highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks since November.

According to the OIE report, the outbreak began on Jan 28, and lab tests had earlier identified the presence of an H5 virus. Follow-up tests at France's national reference lab confirmed the H5N2 subtype.

The 2,200 susceptible birds at the facility will be destroyed.

The pace of avian flu outbreaks in France has slowed, but sporadic ones continue to be reported, such as one affecting a broiler farm in Pyrenees-Atlantique department reported to the OIE on Feb 9. The French outbreaks, which now total 71, have also involved H5N1 and H5N9.

H5N1 strikes two more Nigerian farms

Elsewhere, Nigeria's agriculture ministry reported two more H5N1 outbreaks at egg farms, one in Zamfara state in the country's northwestern corner and the other in Plateau state, in the central region, according to an OIE notification yesterday.

Of 24,884 susceptible chickens, the virus killed 3,635, and the remaining ones were destroyed to curb spread of the virus. The OIE report said the source of the outbreak isn't known, but it noted poor farm biosecurity at the locations, a feature of many of Nigeria's recent outbreaks.

Nigeria is one of a few African countries, alongside Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, that have reported a reoccurrence of H5N1 outbreaks after a several-year hiatus.

More H5N6 in Vietnam

Vietnam's agriculture ministry today reported an H5N6 outbreak affecting backyard poultry in Nghe An province, located in the north central part of the country. The virus killed 415 of 3,030 birds in the village, and authorities culled the remaining ones as a control measure.

The country is one of four that have reported H5N6 outbreaks and has been battling the virus since last summer. The others include China, Laos, and Hong Kong. However, only China has reported human illnesses from the strain.

See also:

Feb 15 OIE report on H5N1 in Bangladesh

Jan 26 CIDRAP News scan "WHO reports earlier H5N1, H9N2 cases in Bangladesh"

Feb 15 OIE report on H5N2 in France

Feb 15 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria

Feb 16 OIE report on H5N6 in Vietnam


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