H5N8 detected in poultry in Israel, Hungary, India

H5N8 avian flu has been reported in poultry in Israel, Hungary, and India, and the strain has now been detected farther west in Europe in wild birds, according to various reports.

H5N8 in Israel, Hungary

H5N8 hit a large poultry farm near Heftsiba in Northern district in Israel beginning on Nov 11, according to a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) report yesterday. This is the country's first report to the OIE involving the H5N8 strain.

Of 34,500 susceptible birds, 1,800 were infected and 1,500 died from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus. The birds were 21-week-old breeders. One of four pens, containing 5,200 poultry, was affected. The OIE report, filed by Nadav Galon, DVM, MPA, Israel's chief veterinary officer, did not say whether the surviving birds will be culled, which is recommended in HPAI outbreaks.

Galon attributed the outbreak to contact with wild birds. He said in the report, "Israel is on the migration route of wild birds coming from Europe to Africa. The migration is ongoing and this virus strain probably arrived from Europe with migrating birds. The farm is located in an aquaculture area with multiple fish ponds, attracting migrating birds."

Officials have implemented control measures such as quarantine, control of poultry movement, and disinfection of the premises, the report said.

In Hungary, federal officials reported HPAI H5N8 on four farms in the south-central part of the country involving almost 63,000 poultry, according to an OIE report today.

The farms range in size from 3,400 to 23,000 birds, and the outbreaks began on Nov 8 through Nov 10. All told, among 62,900 susceptible birds, 14,400 developed flulike symptoms and 2,000 died. Tests on Nov 12 and yesterday confirmed the diagnosis. All surviving birds on the four farms were destroyed to prevent disease spread.

Hungary reported its first-ever H5N8 outbreak, involving a turkey farm in the southeast, earlier this month, according to the OIE.

H5N8 farm outbreak in India

In India, meanwhile, a chicken has tested positive for H5N8 in Karnataka, the first detection in that district, the Business Standard reported on Nov 11. Haryana, Rajpura, Delhi, Gwalior, and Kerala districts have been previously affected.

Post-outbreak response and surveillance is continuing in the other affected districts, according to the Standard story. The Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases confirmed that samples from the chicken are positive for H5N8 avian flu, according to national agriculture officials.

The Karnataka government has been instructed to initiate control and containment operations, similar to response efforts in other districts. "The situation is under control," the country's Agriculture Ministry said in a statement, according to the story.

More detections in Europe

Elsewhere, Swiss officials have identified two cases of H5N8 in wild birds near Lake Geneva on Switzerland's border with France, the westernmost detection of the virus in Europe this year, swissinfo.ch reported on Nov 12.

The Swiss Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs confirmed that a dead tufted duck and a laughing gull found near the port of the city of Lausanne in the southwest have tested positive for H5N8. This follows the detection on Nov 8 of the virus in five wild ducks found on Lake Constance, which is in northeast Switzerland on its border with Germany. 

Authorities have called for a poultry exclusion zone of 1 kilometer from the shoreline of all major Swiss lakes to prevent contact with wild and migratory waterfowl. So far, no poultry farms have been affected in Switzerland, the story said. 

And in Germany, HPAI H5N8 has been detected for the first time this year in Saxony state, in a wild duck, and H5 has been confirmed in a dead tern near Starnberg in Bavaria, according to separate posts yesterday by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board. Further tests are under way on samples from the tern to determine the exact strain.

See also:

Nov 13 OIE report on Israel

Nov 14 OIE report on Hungary

Nov 11 Business Standard story

Nov 12 swissinfo.ch report

Nov 13 FluTrackers post on H5N8 in Saxony

Nov 13 FluTrackers post on H5 in Starnberg

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