According to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) there's been a flurry of highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in India, Hungary, and Algeria in the last 10 days. The outbreaks involve poultry as well as waterfowl and other migratory birds, which are susceptible to seasonal infections because of changing weather patterns.
"These viruses move with the birds this time of year," said David Stallknecht, PhD, a professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in wildlife population disease. Though Stallknecht said it's typical to see bird flu activity in the fall, any H5N8 reports of the H5N8 strain are disturbing.
"This is a virus that shouldn't be in wild birds; it should only be in poultry."
More H5N8 in India, Hungary
Today the OIE issued a report on an ongoing H5N8 outbreak in India. More than 20,000 birds on two separate farms in Kerala, a state on the southernmost tip of the country, died from H5N8 or were destroyed in response to the outbreak.
Starting on Oct 19, 100 birds died on a farm in Thakazhy, prompting 14,648 more to be culled. Then an outbreak that began on Oct 23 claimed the lives 15 birds on a farm in Ramankary, and 6,483 more were destroyed to contain the outbreak. The source of the infection is unknown.
Earlier this week, the Times of India reported that H5N8 had been confirmed in several ducks that died at the Blue Bird Tourist Complex in Hisar, Haryana. The tourist complex is in the northern part of the country. According to Indian health officials, it is the same strain of H5N8 circulating in Punjab's Rajpura, Delhi, Gwalior and Kerala states. Officials also said they will be culling all waterfowl within 1 kilometer of where the dead ducks were found.
Last week, Hungary reported that H5N8 was found in a dead swan in Csongrad County, in the south of Hungary. Today the infectious disease blog Avian Flu Diary said Hungary's Department of Animal Health and Animal Welfare reported more H5N8 in Bekes County, which is next to Csongrad.
The H5N8 strain was found on a turkey farm, and 9,000 birds will be culled to prevent spread of the disease. Animals within 3 kilometers of the farm will be tested for the virus.
H7N1 in Algeria
Finally, the OIE reported today that H7N1 has been found in a nature park in Algeria, the first ever report of avian flu in that country. The outbreak began on Oct 20 and is ongoing.
According to the OIE, 892 migratory birds, including ruddy shelduck, marbled duck, mallards, and gallinules, were found dead in a wetland in El Menia, which is in central Algeria.
H7N1 is one of the most pathogenic strains of avian flu.
Nov 4 OIE Kerala report
Nov 4 Times of India story
Nov 4 Avian Flu Diary post
Nov 4 OIE Algeria report