H5N6 strikes South Korean poultry again; Europe finds more avian flu

Animal health officials in South Korea and Europe reported more highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in poultry and wild birds, with H5N6 striking three commercial layer farms in South Korea and captive birds in Sweden.

In other developments, Ireland detected H5N6 in another wild bird, Italy reported another H5N8 outbreak, and France reported another low-pathogenic H5N3 outbreak in poultry.

H5N6 in South Korea, Sweden, and Ireland

Two of South Korea's outbreaks were reported from Gyeonggi province, the area that surrounds Seoul, while the third struck birds in the province's neighbor to the south, South Chungcheong, according to separate notifications yesterday form the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The events began on Mar 15 and 16, with the virus killing 153 of 543,500 birds between the three locations, and authorities culled the surviving birds to curb its spread. Investigations are underway into the source of the outbreaks.

In November 2017, South Korea announced the first detection of a new H5N6 reassortant. Since then, Japan and some European countries have joined South Korea in detecting the virus—a mix of H5N8 and endemic Eurasian viruses—in wild birds and poultry.

Elsewhere, Sweden's H5N6 outbreak in captive birds follows recent detections of the virus in a few wild birds. The outbreak began on Mar 11 at a backyard holding in Uppsala county on the country's eastern coast, the OIE said in a Mar 16 notification. The location housed 105 noncommercial birds, including hens, turkeys, pheasants, pigeons, quail, and a goose. The virus killed 15 hens, 1 quail, and 2 turkeys.

The surviving birds will be culled, and the report added that there are no commercial poultry farms within 10 km of the affected location.

In Ireland, authorities detected H5N6 for the third time in a wild bird. The latest event involves a white-tailed eagle found dead on Mar 6 on Cribby Island in Lough Derg in County Clare, a lake frequented by migratory birds, according to a Mar 16 OIE report.

H5N8 in Italian poultry

In Italy, officials reported two more H5N8 outbreaks, both involving commercial farms in Lombardy province. One location is a layer farm, where the outbreak began on Mar 8, killing 82 of 30,906 birds, officials told the OIE. The other began on Mar 12 at a fattening turkey farm, killing 240 of 150,400 birds.

Surviving birds were slated for culling, and so far the source of the virus hasn't been found. Though many European countries reported several H5N8 outbreaks in 2017, Italy is one of just a few to report detections in poultry this year.

More low-path H5N3 in France

Monitoring tests in a zone near an earlier low-pathogenic H5N3 outbreak found the virus on another duck farm, French officials said today in a report to the OIE.

The farm in Lot-et-Garonne department, in the country's southwest, housed 1,000 ducks. Lab tests confirmed the virus on Mar 16, and 1,000 birds were destroyed as part of the outbreak response. France has reported several low-pathogenic H5N3 outbreaks since late 2015, with the foie gras duck production area in the southwest hardest hit by the virus.

See also:

Mar 18 OIE report on H5N6 in South Korea (Gyeonggi province)

Mar 18 OIE report on H5N6 in South Korea (Gyeonggi province)

Mar 18 OIE report on H5N6 in South Korea (South Chungcheong province)

Mar 16 OIE report on H5N6 in captive birds in Sweden

Mar 16 OIE report on H5N6 in Ireland

Mar 16 OIE report on H5N8 in Italy

Mar 19 OIE report on low-path H5N3 in France

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