Avian flu outbreaks expand to Slovakia

Slovakia is the latest country in Europe to report a suspected highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak, with the virus still infecting birds in several other countries in the region.

In Asia, China reported two large poultry outbreaks involving the H5N6 strain in two of its provinces, as officials temporarily shuttered live-poultry markets in some cities in another province.

Slovakia, 5 other European nations recently affected

Slovakia's agriculture ministry said today in a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that highly pathogenic H5 has been confirmed in an outbreak in backyard birds in Bratislava, the country's capital. The outbreak began on Dec 24.

The virus killed all but one of a flock of 65 laying hens, and the remaining bird was culled to slow the spread of the virus.

The neighboring countries of Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine have all reported confirmed or suspected H5N8 outbreaks.

In other European outbreak developments:

  • Hungary today reported 53 more H5N8 outbreaks, 44 of them on farms and 9 involving backyard birds. The OIE report said the latest outbreaks began from Dec 5 to Dec 22, spanning six different counties: Bacs-Kiskun, Csongrad, Bekes, Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok, and Hajdu-Bihar. Most of the events involved duck and goose farms, but a few layer and turkey farms were affected, as well. Stamping out is planned, among other measures, for the 887,528 birds.

  • Poland reported two more H5N8 outbreaks, one at a farm in Lubuskie province and the other in backyard birds in Swietokrzyskie province, according to a report today from the OIE. Of 32,134 susceptible birds at the two locations, the virus killed 296, and the remaining ones were destroyed as a control measure.

  • The Netherlands, in two separate reports yesterday to the OIE, reported 11 more H5N8 detections in wild birds from different parts of the country and 3 more outbreaks on farms. The wild bird detections were in 48 dead birds, most of them widgeons but also swans, a goose, and a white-tailed eagle. The farm outbreaks—one in Gelderland province in the central part of the country and two in South Holland province—affected breeding and egg-laying chickens. The virus killed 1,148 of 81,676 susceptible birds, and the remaining ones were destroyed.

  • Bulgaria reported one more H5 outbreak, coming a week after it reported its first such event, according to an OIE report from yesterday. The outbreak struck a farm in Plovdiv province, killing 456 of the 4,344 birds housed at the facility. Authorities culled the remaining poultry.

  • Finland yesterday reported one more H5N8 detection in a wild bird, a white-tailed eagle found dead on the Aland Islands in the far southwestern part of the country, according to a report to the OIE.

China battles H5N6 amid other Asian developments

China yesterday reported two large H5N6 outbreaks at poultry farms in Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces, according to separate reports to the OIE.

The outbreak in Xinjiang, in northwestern China near the border with Kazakhstan, began on Dec 12, killing 10,716 of 66,619 susceptible birds. The remaining ones were slaughtered to control the spread of the virus.

The Sichuan province outbreak started on Dec 7, and the virus killed 11,000 birds and sickened 2,000 more of 49,000 birds. The remaining 38,000 were destroyed as part of the outbreak response.

In other Asian developments:

  • South Korean agriculture officials said yesterday that surveillance has turned up two more avian flu strains—H7N7 and H7N2—in feces samples from wild birds, KBS World Radio reported yesterday. South Korea is already battling several farm-based outbreaks of H5N6 and H5N8.

  • Two more Chinese cities have suspended live-poultry sales in the wake of human illnesses and outbreaks in birds. All of the cities are in Jiangsu province. Suzhou, one of the province's biggest cities, suspended live-poultry sales late last week, and officials in the cities of Wuxi and Changzhou over the past few days have announced similar measures.

  • North Korea's government has issued guidelines for preventing the spread of avian flu, based on concerns about outbreaks and illnesses that have occurred recently in the region, NK News reported today, citing the country's state media.

See also:

Dec 29 OIE report on H5 in Slovakia

Dec 28 OIE report on H5N6 in Xinjiang province

Dec 28 OIE report on H5N6 in Sichuan province

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