Taiwan reports further H5N6 spread; other strains strike Iran, Europe, Africa

Coming just a week after the first highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu detection in Taiwan in a wild bird, officials reported four more outbreaks involving poultry, as a handful of countries reported more H5N8 outbreaks and Nigeria reported one more from H5N1.

Taiwan reports four more H5N6 outbreaks

News of Taiwan's latest outbreaks came in a series of government announcements over the weekend, according to translations and posts from Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

On Feb 11, officials announced that both H5N6 and highly pathogenic H5N2 had been detected in frozen duck carcasses shipped and processed from an area where H5N6 was first detected in a dead gosling found near some poultry farms.

A report on the findings yesterday from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said the ducks at the slaughterhouse in Hualien County's Yuli township on the eastern side of the island were from one of the farms placed under surveillance after the infected gosling was found and were shipped before the poultry movement ban went into effect. Tests also found highly pathogenic H5N2, a subtype linked to several outbreaks in Taiwan since 2015.

Authorities destroyed the carcasses and thoroughly cleaned the slaughterhouse, and sampling is underway at the farm that sourced the ducks.

Yesterday, Taiwan's animal health bureau reported an H5N6 outbreak at a turkey farm housing about 3,000 birds in Tainan on the southwestern part of the island, according to a translated report posted by AFD. Officials said the turkey farm delayed reporting the outbreak, thinking that the illnesses in birds were related to a problem with feed.

In yet another report today, Taiwanese officials reported two more H5N6 outbreaks, one at a slaughterhouse in Chiayi County and another at Hualien County, according to an AFD post.

More H5N8 outbreaks, H5 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the latest H5N8 developments, Iran reported 16 more H5N8 outbreaks, which began between Jan 6 and Jan 30and struck wild birds, village poultry, and poultry farms, the OIE said today. The events were mainly concentrated in the north of the country, spanning four different provinces.

Farm outbreaks affected turkeys, layers, partridges, and broilers. Backyard bird outbreaks also involved ducks, geese, and ostriches. Of 226,443 susceptible birds, the virus killed 20,298, and the remaining ones were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus.

Affected wild birds included whooper swans and hooded crows found dead at nature parks.

Elsewhere, Bosnia and Herzegovina reported its first highly pathogenic H5 outbreak as part of wider recent activity in Europe, including many of its neighbors. In a report today to the OIE, the country's trade ministry said the outbreak began Feb 11 in backyard poultry in Prijedor in the northwestern part of the country.

The virus killed 99 of 148 birds, and animal health officials said the source of the virus is contact with wild species.

In other European developments:

  • Sweden reported four more H5N8 detections in wild birds, according to a report yesterday to the OIE. They involve mute swans found sick or dead at various locations in Stockholm between Jan 23 and Jan 31.
  • United Kingdom officials today reported their ninth H5N8 outbreak, this time affecting a poultry farm in Britain's Suffolk district, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said in a statement today. The farm houses 23,000 birds, a number of which died from the virus. The remaining birds will be culled, and officials have placed surveillance and control zones around the farm.

H5N1 in Nigeria

Nigeria's health ministry today reported another H5N1 outbreak, this time at a poultry farm in Plateau state in the central part of the country, officials said in an OIE report today.

The outbreak started on Feb 9, killing 68 of 3,164 layers and pullets of different ages. The rest of the birds were destroyed as part of the outbreak response.

Nigeria is among of handful of African countries that have reported a recurrence of H5N1 in poultry since 2015. The country has also reported a H5N8 outbreak over the past few months.

See also:

Feb 11 AFD post on H5N6 and H5N2 at Taiwan slaughterhouse

Feb 12 OIE report on H5N6 and H5N2 in Taiwan

Feb 12 AFD post on H5N6 at a turkey farm in Taiwan

Feb 13 AFD post on two more H5N6 outbreaks in Taiwan

Feb 13 OIE report on H5N8 in Iran

Feb 13 OIE report on H5 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Feb 12 OIE report on H5N8 in Sweden

Feb 13 DEFRA statement

Feb 13 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria

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