Serbia, Slovenia report first H5N5 avian flu outbreaks

Serbia and Slovenia today reported highly pathogenic H5N5 avian flu for the first time, both in wild birds, as several new developments with different strains played out in other countries. Events included more H5N6 outbreaks in Taiwan and more highly pathogenic H7N9 detections in live-poultry markets in China's Guangdong province.

H5N5 detections

Serbia's agriculture ministry confirmed H5N5 in a mute swan found dead on Jan 20 in a nature park near the city of Zrenjanin in the central part of the country, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Meanwhile, Slovenia also reported H5N1 in three mute swans found dead beginning on Jan 20 near three small villages on the Krka River in the southeast near the border with Croatia, according to a separate OIE notice.

Ten European countries have now reported recent H5N5 outbreaks.

Taiwan outbreaks from two strains

In a pair of reports to the OIE, Taiwan reported several more outbreaks involving two highly pathogenic strains, H5N6 and H5N2.

The H5N6 outbreaks struck eight more locations, one of them a slaughterhouse. Most of the affected premises are on the southwest side of the island. The events began from Feb 9 to Feb 16, and the affected locations housed turkeys, native chickens, and ducks. Officials also detected highly pathogenic H5N2 at one of the farms.

Of 12,410 susceptible birds, the virus killed 4,073, and officials culled the remaining poultry to curb the spread of H5N6.

Taiwan has also been battling other avian flu strains over the past 2 years, including H5N2. Today officials reported 11 more H5N2 outbreaks, all involving poultry farms, with start dates ranging from Jan 13 to Feb 17 and affecting mostly locations in Yunlin County.

The farms housed native chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. One of the facilities was a layer farm. Of 115,300 susceptible birds among the 11 locations, the virus killed 11,233, and authorities culled the remaining poultry.

More high-path H7N9 in China

Coming about a week after it announced its first detection of the highly pathogenic form of H7N9 from a live-market poultry in Guangdong province, China's agriculture ministry today reported six more detections from markets in the same province.

The markets are located in five different cities: Zongshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Shanwei, and Meizhou. Some of the detections were from swab samples in chickens, and some were environmental samples. The outbreak start dates ranged from Jan 10 to Feb 28.

Authorities closed all of the affected markets for cleaning and disinfection and have stepped up surveillance in the areas. So far, contact tracing of the affected birds hasn't turned up any outbreaks at source farms.

Until this season, H7N9 has been a low-pathogenic strain in poultry, which made it difficult to track the disease in animals and prevent exposure to people.

H5N8 developments in Europe

Two more European countries reported new H5N8 outbreaks, Italy in poultry and Serbia in wild birds and poultry.

Italian officials reported two events, both in backyard birds in Veneto province in the northeast. The outbreaks began on Feb 27, and, of 192 susceptible birds, the virus killed 8 and sickened 29. Twenty-one additional birds were culled as a response measure.

Meanwhile, Serbia reported nine more H5N8 outbreaks, eight in wild birds and one at a backyard holding.

The events began between Feb 3 and Feb 23, occurring across a wide portion of the northern region. The outbreak in backyard birds killed 46 of 52 birds, and 12 mute swans and a grey heron were found dead from the virus, which was also detected in a live mallard and cormorant.

See also:

Mar 1 OIE report on H5N5 in Serbia

Mar 1 OIE report on H5N5 in Slovenia

Mar 1 OIE report on H5N6 in Taiwan

Mar 1 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan

Mar 1 OIE report on H7N9 in China

Mar 1 OIE report on H5N8 Italy

Mar 1 OIE report on H5N8 in Serbia

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