H5N8 turns up in Greek poultry, Chinese zoo swans

Greece today reported a highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak in poultry, coming just a few weeks after detecting the virus in wild birds, a pattern that has played out repeatedly in several countries over the past few months.

Elsewhere, China reported its first H5N8 detection in the recent spate of outbreaks that have spanned several of the world's regions, which affected swans at a zoo in Hubei province. In other new developments, two countries reported outbreaks involving different strains: H5N1 in Nigeria and H5N6 in Japan, according to the latest reports to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

European H5N8 developments

The poultry outbreak in Greece began Jan 7, striking a layer farm in Peloponnese region in the southern part of the country, animal health officials said in a report yesterday to the OIE. The event follows a mid-December detection of H5N8 in a wild swan found dead at a nature area in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace region in northeastern Greece.

In their report on the poultry farm outbreak, officials didn't say how many hens died but said all 28,000 susceptible birds were culled as part of the response measures, which also include controlling poultry movement, disinfection, and stepped-up surveillance.

Several other European countries reported more H5N8 detections in both wild birds and poultry:

  • Czech Republic authorities reported three more outbreaks in mute swans found dead in three locations, one of them the capital city of Prague. In a separate report to the OIE the country also confirmed one more outbreak in backyard birds, which began on Jan 15 and affected 117 geese, ducks, hens, and pigeons at a farm in South Bohemian region in the south.

  • Poland reported two more detections in wild birds, a mute swan found dead in Zgorzelec near the German border in the west and a swan and mallard found dead in West Pomerania province in the northwest. It also reported one more poultry outbreak, which began on Jan 16, killing 1,652 of 3,859 birds at farm in Wielkopolska province in the west-central part of the country.

  • France reported H5N8 in a buzzard found dead on Jan 11 in Landes department, an area in southwestern France where several poultry outbreaks have occurred.

  • UK authorities reported four more outbreaks in England, three involving wild birds found dead in three different locations in the north: Lancashire, Tyne & Wear, and North Yorkshire. The virus also struck another farm near the town of Louth in eastern England. The outbreak began on Jan 15, with H5N8 killing 400 of 6,640 fattening turkeys.

H5N8 in China and India

Among other regions reporting H5N8 outbreaks, China today detailed what appears to be its first H5N8 detection, involving a wild bird, as India reported a new detection, this time involving a wild bird rather than poultry, according to separate OIE reports.

China's outbreak occurred in domesticated black swans at a zoo in Hubei province in the east-central part of the country. The event began on Jan 1, killing 99 of 314 swans. Officials culled the remaining 215 birds. Enhanced surveillance of nearby poultry farms found no abnormal deaths, the report said.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan has battled H5N8 as well as other viruses in poultry populations over the past year, and South Korea has battled a few recent H5N8 outbreaks alongside several events involving H5N6.

In India, where H5N8 has already struck poultry farms and village birds in November, especially Kerala state in the south, animal health officials yesterday reported the virus in samples from wild geese found dead in early December in Gujarat state in the west.

H5N1 in Nigeria, H5N6 in Japan

In other developments involving other avian flu strains, Nigeria reported three new H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, two in backyard birds in Bauchi state and one at a poultry farm housing 15-week-old pullets in Kaduna state.

Among the three events, the virus killed 556 of 6,663 susceptible birds, and the remaining ones were destroyed.

Meanwhile, Japan's agriculture ministry, in a report to the OIE yesterday, confirmed H5N6 in an outbreak that started on Jan 14 in the central prefecture of Gifu. The virus struck a layer farm, killing 100 of 78,184 susceptible birds. The remaining birds were culled, and health officials have imposed movement restrictions for nearby farms.

See also:

Jan 17 OIE report on H5N8 in Greece

Jan 18 OIE report on H5N8 in China

Jan 17 OIE report on H5N8 in India

Jan 16 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria

Jan 17 OIE report on H5N6 in Japan

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