WHO: Brisk flu activity reported in several countries
Flu is rising in several parts of the world, with 2009 H1N1 dominant, but many locations experiencing H3N2 circulation, as well, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in a global flu update, covering activity through Feb 3.
In Europe, most countries have passed their epidemic thresholds, with high-intensity activity reported in the southwestern regions and hospitalization rates high in France and the United Kingdom. Levels of severe acute respiratory infections are on the rise in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Flu detections are rising in North Africa, and in the Mediterranean region, flu levels are increasing in Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. In East Asia, flu levels are still high in China and Hong Kong, but activity is declining in Japan and South Korea. In South Asia, flu activity remained elevated, with levels increasing in India, mainly from 2009 H1N1, and flu activity continues but is mixed in Southeast Asia, with virus levels on the rise in the Philippines.
Flu levels were low in most tropical Americas and African locations, as well as in most of the Southern Hemisphere, except for parts of Australia, where flu activity is above inter-seasonal levels.
At the global level, 98.2% of specimens positive for flu in the latter half of January and into the first few days of February were influenza A. Of subtyped influenza A strains, 72% were 2009 H1N1 and 28% were H3N2.
Feb 18 WHO global flu update
More high-path H5 avian flu outbreaks noted in India, Nigeria, South Africa
India has reported another highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu outbreak, and two African countries reported more H5N8 outbreaks, according to the latest notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
In India, the outbreak involves backyard poultry in Jharkhand state in the far eastern part of the country. The outbreak began on Jan 25, killing 26 of 6,000 susceptible birds. Authorities culled 4,439 birds as part of response efforts.
India has recently reported a few other outbreaks in wild birds and poultry in Orissa and Bihar states in eastern India, as well as in peacocks at a zoo in Bihar.
Elsewhere, Nigeria's agriculture ministry reported two outbreaks involving highly pathogenic H5N8 on commercial poultry farms in Plateau state in the central part of the country. The outbreaks began on Feb 7 and Feb 11, and taken together, the virus killed 71 of 3,940 birds at the locations, one of which housed 52-week-old layers and the other having 10-week-old pullets and 6-week-old broilers.
The remaining birds were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus. Nigeria's last H5N8 outbreak occurred in early January on a poultry farm in Bauchi state.
In another H5N8 development, South Africa reported two more outbreaks at commercial ostrich farms, both in Western Cape province in the south of the country. The events began on Dec 7 and Jan 8, and between the pair of outbreaks, the virus killed 174 of 6,059 ostriches. Stamping out and destroying the animal products were to be applied as part of control measures. The latest detections are part of ongoing sporadic H5N8 activity at South African ostrich farms.
Feb 16 OIE report on H5N1 in India
Feb 15 OIE report on H5N8 in Nigeria
Feb 18 OIE report on H5N8 in South Africa