Four countries battle more high-path avian flu outbreaks

Four countries reported new highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks in poultry over the past few days, with Cambodia, Ghana, and Indonesia battling H5N1 and Italy reporting its second H7N7 event this month.

H5N1 in Cambodia and Ghana

Cambodia's H5N1 outbreak, its first since last November, struck backyard birds in a village in Kampot province, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). On May 9 a poultry owner notified veterinary officials of sickness and death in local chickens and ducks, which began on May 4. Kampot province is located in southwestern Cambodia.

The virus killed 155 of 505 susceptible birds, and the remaining 350 were culled to control the spread of the disease. Other control measures included disinfection and controlling poultry movements in the affected area. So far the H5N1 source isn't known.

In Ghana, the H5N1 virus turned up in four commercial layer and breeding farms in three of the country's regions: two in Greater Accra and one each in Eastern and Central regions. According to an OIE report yesterday, all of the affected facilities are in southern Ghana, and the detections occurred from Apr 5 to Apr 25.

Of 25,973 susceptible chickens among all the farms, H5N1 killed 4,821. Authorities destroyed the remaining 21,153 birds to curb the virus.

Like a handful of other African countries, Ghana has been battling ongoing outbreaks since the virus reemerged in 2015 after a several-year hiatus.

Indonesia reports steep increase

Elsewhere, H5N1 outbreaks in Indonesia are showing a steep increase this year compared with last year, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday, citing data from the country's agriculture ministry. As of the end of April, 148 outbreaks had already been reported, compared with 123 for all of 2015.

The two hardest-hit provinces are West Java and Lampung, with ducks and egg-laying hens most affected in West Java. At a media briefing yesterday, an agriculture ministry officials said lapses in public awareness and extreme weather changes are some of the reasons for the uptick in outbreaks, the Post reported. Officials are urging the public to report outbreaks, properly vaccinate flocks, and adhere to biosecurity steps.

An official from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) praised Indonesia's progress against H5N1 in poultry, which spiked to an all-time high in 2007 with more than 2,700 outbreaks. However, he urged the public to stay alert and to follow the government's precautions.

More H7N7 in Italy

Meanwhile, Italian health officials yesterday reported that the H7N7 virus hit a turkey farm in the Ferrara province of its Emilia-Romagna region, the country's second outbreak involving the strain this year.

A report yesterday from the OIE said the virus struck a commercial turkey producer, beginning on May 13. Of 49,472 birds at the facility, H7N7 killed 170 and sickened 2,000 more. The remaining turkeys were stamped out as part of control measures.

Italy's previous H7N7 outbreak was reported earlier this month at a layer farm in the same Ferrara province city in the north.

See also:

May 17 OIE report on Cambodia outbreak

May 16 OIE report on Ghana outbreaks

May 16 Jakarta Post story

May 16 OIE report on Italian outbreak

May 2 CIDRAP News scan "Italy report high-path H7N7 in poultry"

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