H5N6 outbreak in Greece is first outside of Asia

Greek agriculture officials today reported the country's first highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu outbreak, which signals the first detection of the virus—known to infect people—in birds outside of Asia.

Elsewhere, Nigeria reported six more highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks, and four European countries reported more H5N8 detections, according to the latest reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Follow-up tests confirm H5N6 in Greek poultry

The outbreak in Greece involves backyard poultry in a village in Western Macedonia region in the northwestern part of the country, officials said today in an OIE report. The event began on Feb 6 and was mistakenly reported on Feb 16 as H5N8 rather than highly pathogenic H5 other than H5N8 and H5N1. Further lab testing confirmed H5N6 yesterday.

Control measures had already been put in place on Feb 9 after initial tests showing H5 were reported. The virus wiped out the flock of 60 poultry.

H5N6 outbreaks in poultry were first reported by China, Laos, and Vietnam in 2014, and the virus has been linked to 17 human infections in China, 10 of them fatal.

Eight Asian countries have now reported H5N6 outbreaks, most recently Japan, South Korea, Myanmar, and Taiwan.

H5N1 in Nigeria

Nigeria today reported six more H5N1 outbreaks at poultry farms, all in the central part of the country: five in Plateau state and one in Nasarawa state.

The events began from Feb 23 to Feb 28, killing 246 of 13,052 susceptible birds. Affected facilities housed layers or pullets.

Officials aren't sure of the source of the outbreak, but they said poor farm biosecurity likely played a role.

The country is among a handful in Africa that have reported a resurgence of H5N1 activity in poultry since 2015.

Four European nations report more H5N8

In Europe, new H5N8 outbreaks were reported in the following countries:

  • Lithuania: one more outbreak in wild birds, involving four mute swans found dead on Feb 28 on the bank of the Nemunas River near the city of Kaunas, the country's second-largest city.

  • Poland: nine more detections in wild birds, mostly mute swans, found dead in five different provinces between Feb 18 and Feb 27.

  • Romania: two more outbreaks in swans found dead in Mehedinti and Constanta counties in the south on Feb 15 and Feb 20, respectively.

  • Spain: nine more outbreaks on poultry farms in Catalonia in the same region where the virus struck a duck farm in February. Several of the latest locations are listed as contact farms or as facilities in the protective zone. The virus killed 250 of 10,530 birds, and authorities culled the remaining ones.

See also:

Mar 3 OIE report on H5N6 in Greece

Mar 3 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria

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