Officials report more avian flu across Europe, Middle East

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) published several reports today and over the weekend of new avian influenza outbreaks in several countries, signaling more spread of H5N8 in Europe, with more countries now reporting the virus in their poultry flocks.

Continued outbreaks in Europe

Both Germany and France reported more cases of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu. Beginning on Dec 29, 25 turkeys died and another 12,225 were destroyed on a poultry farm in Hude in Germany's Lower Saxony state. Germany was one of the first countries in Europe to report widespread H5N8 activity 2 months ago.

France reported 23 new outbreaks of H5N8 on farms in the southwestern corner of the country. The outbreaks began on Dec 22 and are ongoing. Many of the birds showed clinical symptoms of H5N8 and were housed in farms located in the surveillance zone of previous outbreaks. Nineteen of the 23 farm outbreaks involved ducks, with a total of 479 deaths and 12,512 culled birds. An additional 117,014 are susceptible, and the OIE said there will be ongoing surveillance.

The United Kingdom is also reporting a new outbreak of H5N8 at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, according to the BBC. Nine swans have tested positive for the virus. So far this winter the swannery has reported 80 bird deaths, while most years see half that amount. The swannery is the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans.

Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania confirm H5N8 in poultry

The Czech Republic confirmed its first H5N8 outbreaks in two flocks of backyard birds in the southern part of the country. Initial media reports said H5 had been detected and that further tests were under way.

The first outbreak began near the town of Moravsky on Jan 4, where 10 birds died from the highly pathogenic avian influenza and another 76 were destroyed. On the same day, 20 turkeys died in the nearby town of Ivancice. According to the OIE, both outbreaks occurred in backyard holdings in contact with wild birds.

A backyard flock was also the site of the an outbreak of H5N8 in Croatia, which had previously reported the virus only in wild birds. On Dec 27, 15 chickens and 1 turkey were found dead in the town of Pitomaca, on the Hungarian border. Another 25 susceptible birds were destroyed.

Meanwhile, Romania reported two more H5N8 outbreaks in wild birds, plus its first detection in the country's poultry.  The outbreaks began on Dec 28 and involved three wild swans found in the Fortuna Lake, and 22 backyard poultry nearby. An additional 169 poultry were destroyed.

Developments in Iran, Taiwan

Iran reported five more H5N8 outbreaks across the northern part of that country. One poultry farm and four backyard flocks reported 3,069 deaths while another 166,453 birds were culled. The outbreaks started on Dec 18 and Dec 25, and active surveillance of nearby poultry farms is continuing, according to the OIE.

Finally today, Taiwan reported its second H5N2 outbreak of the new year on a chicken farm in Yunlin. According to Xinhua, China's state news agency, 2,672 chicken have been slaughtered to prevent further infection.

See also:

Dec 30 OIE Germany report

Dec 30 OIE France report

Jan 9 BBC story

Jan 5 OIE Czech Republic report

Jan 3 OIE Croatia report

Jan 5 OIE Romania report

Jan 9 OIE Iran report

Jan 9 Xinhua story

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