Three more countries in Europe—Finland, France, and Romania—reported their first highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreaks over the past few days, part of a recent wave of activity linked to migratory birds from Russia, bringing the number of affected European countries to 13.
Meanwhile, veterinary officials in India and Iran reported more H5N8 outbreaks, while earlier affected European countries reported new developments, including major poultry culls.
Outbreaks in Finland, France, Romania
The three newest detections in Europe all involved waterfowl—wild ducks in Finland and France and wild swans in Romania.
Finland's agriculture ministry said about 60 tufted ducks were found dead in locations around the Aland islands, southwest of the mainland in the Baltic Sea, on Nov 12, according to a Nov 25 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). So far, of four birds sent for testing, two are positive for H5N8.
In France, deaths were reported in a batch of gadwall and widgeon ducks kept on a private lake in the town of Marck in Pas de Calais department in northern France, the agriculture ministry said in a report today to the OIE. Tests confirmed the H5N8 virus on Nov 26, and a second batch of 35 ducks that stayed on the same body of water will be slaughtered along with the others as a precaution.
Romania's outbreak involved deaths in wild swans in the port of Constanta, located in the southeastern part of the country on the Baltic coast, according a translation of a Facebook message from Romania's veterinary authorities translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.
The detections in all of the countries prompted stepped-up surveillance around the outbreak locations and other control measures.
Culling in Sweden, Netherlands, Germany
Following Sweden's announcement last week of its first detection of H5N8 in two wild birds in the southern tip of the country, on Nov 24 it reported that a farmer noticed poultry deaths in illnesses at a nearby farm, according to a report to the OIE. So far tests show that a highly pathogenic H5 strain is involved.
Of 153,000 laying hens, the virus sickened 37,000 and killed 435 of the birds, according to the report. Officials have placed protective and surveillance zones around the farm, and culling is under way. Authorities have also banned the transport of live birds, hatching eggs, and poultry products that haven't been heat-treated.
In related developments, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs on Nov 26 said 190,000 ducks were culled after avian flu was found on a farm in the central part of the Netherlands, in Flevoland province, Xinhua, China's state news agency reported yesterday. According to a report today to the OIE, Dutch officials said tests have confirmed H5N8 at the facility, which housed fattening ducks. The outbreak began on Nov 25, killing 500 of 10,000 susceptible birds.
German officials, meanwhile, have culled 16,000 turkeys and have ordered the destruction of 92,000 chickens, according to a Nov 24 Reuters report. The story said H5N8 has affected three poultry producers in the northern part of the country.
In other German avian flu developments, the death of an emu from H5N8 at a zoo in the northern part of the country has temporarily shuttered the facility, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Nov 25.
Also, the country's veterinary officials on Nov 23 reported a low-pathogenic H5N2 outbreak at a mixed species poultry at a backyard farm in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state in northern Germany, according to a Nov 23 OIE update. Officials said the farm's 54 surviving birds have been culled and that the outbreak isn't connected to recent highly pathogenic H5N8 events in the country.
India, Iran report more H5N8 outbreaks
India and Iran, two of the countries outside of Europe that have also confirmed recent H5N8 events, reported more spread of the virus.
In India, the virus struck village birds in Karnataka state, a region where earlier H5N8 outbreaks have been reported, according to a Nov 25 report to the OIE. The outbreak started on Nov 5, and of 1,593 susceptible birds, the virus killed 900, and authorities destroyed the remaining ones as a control measure. Karnataka state is in south-central India.
Meanwhile, Iran's agriculture ministry on Nov 26 reported another H5N8 outbreak at a commercial layer farm in the same area where the first two outbreaks were detected near the city of Malard in Tehran province in northwestern Iran.
According to an OIE report, the new outbreak was first detected Nov 22. Of 26,873 birds at the facility, the virus sickened 13,436 and killed 1,401. The remaining poultry were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus.
Nov 25 OIE report on H5N8 in Finland
Nov 28 OIE report on H5N8 in France
Nov 27 FluTrackers thread on H5N8 in Romania
Nov 24 OIE report on H5 at a Swedish poultry farm
Nov 27 Xinhua story
Nov 28 OIE report on Dutch outbreak
Nov 24 Reuters story on German culling
Nov 25 AP story on H5N8 in German zoo emu
Nov 23 OIE report on low-path H5N2 in Germany
Nov 25 OIE report on Indian outbreak
Nov 26 OIE report on Iran outbreak