Monday, December 11, 2023

Avian influenza continues to attack poultry worldwide

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By Barbara Olejnik

Poultry Times staff

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses continue to attack poultry around the world in sporadic outbreaks.

Some of the latest outbreaks have been reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) from Russia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Ghana and Taiwan.

In HPAI developments, Russia reported an H5N2 outbreak in commercial poultry, the latest in ongoing activity since June.

The latest even began Aug. 9 at a location housing 498,485 birds with the virus killing 506. So far, 1,223 birds have been destroyed as part of the outbreak response.

Denmark said tests on a mute swan found dead on Aug. 9 were positive H5N6. The country had reported its last detection of the virus in April. Bulgaria reported an H5N8 outbreak in backyard poultry that began July 6, killing 10 of 62 birds. Its most recent outbreak involving the subtype was in June at a commercial farm.

Malaysia has reported high path H5N1 outbreak at a layer farm, its first in more than a year and Vietnam has reported three more H5N6 outbreaks. The Malaysian virus killed 3,000 of 28,000 susceptible birds and the survivors were culled. The Vietnam outbreaks began from July 28 to July 30, killing 1,590 of 12,620 birds. Officials culled the remaining birds and other responses included vaccination and enhanced surveillance and disinfection.

Saudi Arabia’s agriculture ministry said active surveillance on July 17 at the Alazizia bird market identified the H5N8 virus in one of 20 ducks tested. All of the susceptible 14,675 birds at the location were destroyed and authorities temporarily closed the market and applied other control measures.

South Africa reported H6N8 in wild birds found dead. The outbreaks are part of sporadic H5N8 outbreaks in wild birds that have been occurring over the past year.

In Ghana, an H5 outbreak was reported at a farm, the first since the end of 2016. The outbreak began on June 27 at a farm in the south central art of the country, killing 2.033 of 6,451 susceptible birds. The survivors were culled to control the spread of the virus. An investigation found that the outbreak may be linked to an illegal movement of infected birds.

In Taiwan, one more H5N2 outbreak at a commercial poultry farm has been reported. This latest outbreak, part of activity under way since early 2015, struck a turkey farm in Yunlin County. The event began on July 2, killing 151 of 771 birds.

The U.S. has remained free of the high path AI virus for more than a year. The last incidence was in on March 5, 2017, when USDA confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7 in two commercial poultry facilities in Tennessee. Complete depopulation of the flocks was undertaken and the virus did not spread to other facilities.

The worst outbreak of high path avian influenza in the U.S. occurred in 2015. Outbreaks began in December 2014 along the Pacific flyway and moved eastward to the Entral and Mississippi Flyways, the routes used by migratory birds.

The outbreak killed more than 48 million birds in 223 separate outbreaks in 21 states across the country and caused U.S. trading partners to end U.S. egg exports. Revenue for the poultry industry dropped $400 million, or 1 percent, in the first half of 2015 as compared to the previous year.

Hardest hit were turkey flocks in Minnesota and egg layers in Iowa — both states being the top producers of those birds.

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