HPAI UPdate # 4: Several countries continue to battle Avian Influenza

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By Pastor Alfonso, CENSA, member of the Avian Diseases Working Group, 1/3/2015

In 2015, sixteen countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Americas confirmed the presence of Avian Influenza (AI) to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

On 25/02/2015, the Hungarian Veterinary Authority issued an immediate notification to the OIE reporting the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8. This event made Hungary the fifth European country and the ninth country worldwide affected by this emerging serotype. It was also reported that all 22,000 fattening ducks on the affected premise would be culled. Culling will also occur on three other contact premises.

The United States (US) has been the only country in the Americas in which HPAI H5N8 has been confirmed. With first confirmation occurring on a mixed poultry backyard in Douglas County Oregon on the 19th December 2014. Thereafter, during 2015, two other properties have reported the presence of HPAI H5N8 on acommercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County and a commercial chicken and duck flock in Kings County, both in the state of California.

The H5N8 impact in numbers could be even higher, considering it is now mixing with North American AI viruses, thereby creating new mixed-origin viruses (reassortment) as H5N2 and H5N1 until now noticed in both Canada and US.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) registered 11 outbreaks of HPAI H5N2 in commercial poultry premises and two others in backyard flocks, all in the province of British Columbia (BC). On 07/02/2015, the new H5N1 was found for first time on a backyard poultry flock also in the BC. The CFIA recently removed the quarantine for six previously impacted farms and reduced the size of the 10 km restricted zone within the Avian Influenza Primary Control Zone because of progress in the control of avian influenza in BC.

The new reassorted H5N1 strain was previously found in Washington State US in January 2015 only in wild birds. H5N2 having dispersed more in the US than H5N1 with seven detections in five counties in three states all in backyard flocks. The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) later reported either H5N2 or H5N8 in captive wild birds,mainly in falcons, fed with hunted birds.

Since December 2014 until 20 February 2015, the overall positive cases as part of the increased AI surveillance of wild birds in the US, totalled 34 cases distributed in 15 counties and six states.

All viral strains can travel in wild birds without the appearance of illness; therefore, practicing good biosecurity to prevent contact between poultry and wild birds is crucial to avoiding AI. Surveillance is crucial for the early detection of AI virus incursions, trace back infections and trigger opportune response for recovery. Those measures reduce the secondary transmission in poultry, even in the absence of active outbreaks and are crucial in reducing the potential size of epidemics and losses in case of AI virus incursion.

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