Myanmar today reported its first highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza outbreak in poultry, confirmed in chickens imported from China, as European countries reported more H5N8 detections and Nigeria reported more outbreaks from the H5N1 strain.
The H5N6 report from Myanmar comes just days after Taiwan noted its first H5N6 finding, signifying increasing spread of the virus in Asia. The H5N6 strain has been linked to 17 illnesses in humans, all from China.
H5N6 in healthy birds
In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) today, Myanmar said that in the wake of H7N9 outbreaks in China in 2013 it stepped up screening in chickens and ducks and their environments at live-bird markets and poultry collecting points. The fifth round of active surveillance turned up H5N6 in chickens and their environments in Monglar in Shan state in the east, on the border with China.
Chickens that tested positive for the virus were apparently healthy, were from live markets, and were imported from China. The report said H5N6 was also found in ducks imported from China.
Samples were collected in 2016, and tests at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory confirmed the findings on Dec 14. Officials said the virus was found in 5 of 300 chickens, and the entire flock was culled to curb the spread of the virus.
European countries report more H5N8
In the latest European H5N8 developments, according to new OIE reports:
Greece reported one more detection in a wild bird, this time in a mute swan found dead on Jan 27 on the Island of Rhodes in the far southeastern part of the country, not far from Turkey.
Kazakhstan confirmed H5N8 in an outbreak initially reported on Jan 20 that involved a wild bird found dead that tested positive for an H5 virus.
Poland reported six more poultry outbreaks, five involving farms and one in backyard birds. The events began from Feb 1 to Feb 3, killing 7,858 of 189,604 birds and affecting four different provinces across the country.
Romania reported H5N8 in five gulls found dead on Feb 2 in a backyard in Bucharest, the country's capital.
H5N1 in Nigeria
Meanwhile, Nigeria's agriculture ministry reported nine more highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, six on farms and three involving backyard birds, according to a report yesterday to the OIE.
The events began from Jan 9 to Jan 28, affecting locations in four different states in central and southern Nigeria: Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, and Federal Capital Territory.
Of 145,796 susceptible birds, mainly layers and pullets, the virus sickened 1,278 and killed 948. Authorities culled the remaining poultry.
A handful of African countries, including Nigeria, have been battling a resurgence of H5N1 since 2015.
Feb 7 OIE report on H5N6 in Myanmar
Feb 6 OIE report on H5N8 in Greece
Feb 6 OIE report on H5N8 in Kazakhstan
Feb 7 OIE report on H5N8 in Poland
Feb 7 OIE report on H5N8 in Romania
Feb 6 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria