Thursday, February 23, 2017

Catalonia Reports H5N8 Outbreak At Duck Farm In Girona

Credit Wikipedia


Earlier this week the autonomous community of Catalonia reported the discovery of  H5N8 in a stork found dead in the Natural Park of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Girona.  Today, their Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Food reports the discovery of the H5N8 virus at a duck farm, also in the province of Girona.

This is the first poultry outbreak reported within the borders of Spain. In January two wild ducks were found dead in the lake Las Navas de Fuentes, Palencia, Castile and León.

 Starts the slaughter of 17,000 ducks operation and activate the measures foreseen in the emergency plan before an avian influenza focus
Since the government is acting as quickly as possible to minimize the risks for the sector
Avian influenza is a disease that affects birds and such specific virus is transmissible to humans
The Central Veterinary Laboratory of Algete in Madrid last night confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza, the H5N8 type, a farm breeding ducks outdoors for fattening the municipality of San Gregory, Gironès. This was announced today the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, Meritxell Serret, at a press conference in Barcelona.
In this situation, Serret said that the Department has implemented quickly, under the precautionary principle, the measures, according to European directive on emergency plan before an outbreak of avian influenza: signed sacrifice all farm animals, a total of 17,327 ducks and triggered all security measures in the protection zone within a radius of 3 km. In this sense, they fixed the six poultry farms that are in this radius (all Gironès) and veterinary inspections have begun to know what their health status.
The fact that the type of virus matches the stork meeting Tuesday and we are in a zone of high migratory birds, and therefore contact with wild birds is the first hypothesis of possible infection. To determine the precise origin will study the Animal Health Research Centre (CRES).
Meanwhile, traceability is studying this operation and are applying the highest veterinary controls to prevent and detect other possible sources.
In Catalonia Tuesday confirmed an outbreak stork found dead in the Natural Park of Aiguamolls. It was determined a radius of 3 km protection and they immobilize three poultry farms that are in this radius, which is also still being analyzed by veterinarians. Moreover, it has established a ban on hunting wild birds in a radius of 10 km and the levels of surveillance in wild birds through the Corps of Rural Agents.
From 28 October 2016 and so far 781 have been reported in Europe focus highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry, captive birds and 38 in 972 wild birds.
The H5N8 virus affects only birds and not transmitted to people
The Secretary of Public Health, Dr. John Plaster, also present at the press conference, pointed out that we have a virus that does not affect public health, since the H5N8 is not transmissible to humans as secured from different European organizations.
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Chinese Premier Briefed On H7N9 - Urges Shut Down Of Poultry Markets

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While hard information on China's 5th epidemic wave of H7N9 is slow to emerge, for the third day in a row the Chinese government is reporting on high level meetings being held over the status and control of their record-setting H7N9 epidemic.  
Yesterday we looked at a national video conference held by China's MOA, while on Tuesday we saw the NHFPC National Video Conference on the epidemic.

Today, China's Premier Li Keqiang was briefed on the epidemic, and afterwards he reportedly urged live poultry markets to shut down.  The following (translated) excerpt describing today's meeting comes from a report posted on the Central Government's website (

The meeting pointed out that this year China's H7N9 epidemic compared with previous years earlier, the number of cases increased. All regions and relevant departments in accordance with the Party Central Committee and State Council, the effective implementation of joint defense control.
The next step is to open the transparent and timely release of the authority of the information, to prevent panic, to guide poultry practitioners and the public to do protection.
Two to do a good job in case treatment, to minimize the severity and death cases. Enrich the power of treatment, to ensure drug supply, the relevant treatment costs into health insurance.
Third, we must strengthen the epidemic monitoring and early warning, to strengthen the regulation of live birds and farms, strict implementation of live poultry market closed, disinfection, quarantine and other systems, found cases or detection of the source of the city and county as soon as possible to close the live poultry market, Kill and other measures. Severely punish the illegal transport, operation, slaughter and other acts.
Fourth, we must implement the "scale farming, centralized slaughter, cold chain transport, chilled listing" new model to promote the upgrading of poultry industry.

The move away from live bird markets to `chilled' or frozen chicken has been attempted before, but has always been met with strong public resistance.  Even after Beijing Ordered Closure Of Live Bird Markets To Control H7N9 late last week, many poultry markets apparently remain open.

In the past hour Reuters is reporting:
China's premier urges poultry markets to shut as bird flu fears grow
China's Prime Minister urged local authorities to shut down live poultry markets in places affected by the H7N9 bird flu virus which killed 79 people in January, a statement from China's cabinet said.

Chicken prices sank to their lowest level in more than a decade last week and concerns about H7N9 deepened after global health authorities said the strain had evolved into a more severe form for birds.
          (Continue . . .) 

Despite ample evidence that the closure of live bird markets dramatically reduces the spread of H7N9 (see The Lancet: Poultry Market Closure Effect On H7N9 Transmission), China has been unusually slow to react to this year's epidemic.  

Hopefully this week's flurry of high profile meetings is an indication that China is intent on taking a more proactive stance in fighting this epidemic.

ESA: HPAI H5N8 in Africa


Although its impact has been relatively small to date, the arrival of HPAI H5N8 to Sub-Saharan Africa this winter raises genuine concerns over the future spread, and continued evolution, of clade HPAI H5 viruses.

H5N8 belongs to an expandng family of viruses that have shown a remarkable ability to reassort with local LPAI viruses, generating new genotypes, and new subtypes (e.g. H5N5, H5N2, H5N1, etc.).

Last week's FLI: Updated Risk Assessment On HPAI H5 warned specifically that:

`Generation of reassortants always must be expected when different high and low pathogenic influenza viruses are circulating in one population.'

H5N8 first appeared in Nigeria last November (see OIE Report), caused a major die off of waterfowl on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda last month (see Ugandan HPAI H5 Outbreak Confirmed As H5N8), and was confirmed in Cameroon just last week.

Reports of H5N8 have been more common in northern Africa (Egypt & Tunisia) and the Middle East (Iran, Israel), but given the lack of surveillance, testing, and reporting from much of Africa, it is likely there are other outbreaks we simply haven't heard about.  

France's ESA (Epidemiosurveillance Santé Animale) posted the following (translated) update yesterday.  Follow the link for all of the maps, charts, and links. 

Homes and cases of HPAI H5N8 in Africa: point situation 


Submitted by Alizé MERCIER on 22. February 2017 - 9:34.

Sleep international health (VSI) ESA platform - France

Source: Data updated on 21.02.2017 (inclusive) FAO OIE WAHIS & Empres-i

A virus highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 is currently circulating in Asia, Europe and Africa. In Africa, outbreaks and cases were reported officially in Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon (Figure 1 & Table 1). 

In Egypt, the virus HPAI H5N8 was detected for the first time November 30, 2016 in two coots Coot ( Fulica atra ) found dead in Dumyat (source: OIE). Following this first case, an epidemiological surveillance system was implemented in 45 sites placed on the path of migratory birds, with sampling done on wild and domestic birds. The virus was then detected repeatedly within poultry (mainly ducks (unspecified species)) with ten declared areas from late December to early February (source: FAO Empres-i).

Tunisia is located on the main corridor of migration of wild birds traveling to Africa from Europe (source: OIE). In Tunisia, the first case of H5 HPAI was reported on 1 st December 2016 at 17 coots Coot ( Fulica atra ) and 13 Wigeon ( Anas penelope ) found dead in the north of the country in the Ichkeul National Park ( source: OIE). The Reference Laboratory Padova (Italy) then confirmed that the virus was directly related to HPAI H5 virus clade (this clade including the H5N8 virus). Phylogenetic analysis is ongoing according to the latest OIE report dated February 20, 2017.

In Nigeria, a first outbreak was reported December 17, 2016 (home dating of 19 November 2016) in Kano in outdoor rearing of 250 birds (guinea fowl, turkeys and pigeons) with morbidity and 6% mortality. The owner had bought his birds at a local market. Another outbreak was reported February 8, 2017 (home dating of 11 January 2017) in Kano in a poultry market following the collection of tracheal samples from four live ducks.

In Uganda, two cases of HPAI H5N8 on winged Tern ( Chlidonias leucopterus ) reported January 13, 2017 and, for each notification, 600 cases of 1000 susceptible birds (source: OIE). These statements correspond to high mortalities of wild birds (including wild ducks) on the shores of Lake Victoria. According to the OIE, many wild and domestic birds continue to die of the virus, threatening more than 30 million domestic birds in the country. Another outbreak was reported in a breeding (unspecified species) in Masaka, and a mixed marriage (affecting both wild and domestic birds) in Kalangala with over 4000 domestic and wild birds (species unspecified) found dead (source: OIE / FAO Empres-i).

In Cameroon, the first cases of HPAI H5N8 was declared February 14, 2017 (event start date of January 2, 2017) in the north of the country within a 107 breeding peacocks ( Pavo cristatus ) - which 103 were infected and died (96.3% mortality) - also including 10 ducks and 14 chickens (source: OIE).

It is noteworthy that despite the put monitoring systems in place in many countries (whether in Africa or in Europe), the AI ​​case detection in wild birds is difficult, which may lead to under-detection . Furthermore, other HPAI viruses, including viruses HPAI H5, also circulating in Africa. For example, the H5N1 virus was detected in the last month within farms in several African countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Niger ( source: Promed).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

DEFRA: Update #11 On HPAI H5 In UK/Europe


When it comes to summarizing Europe's HPAI H5N8/H5Nx epizootic the UK's DEFRA, Germany's FLI (Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut), and France's ESA (Epidemiosurveillance Santé Animale) have consistently provided us with the most complete information.  

Today it is DEFRA's turn, with  the publication of their 11th Outbreak Assessment (complete list here).

Due to its length I've limited excerpts to the Situation Assessment and Conclusions.  Details on the UK's recent outbreaks and detections in wild birds are contained in the first section (Disease report).  
To put this report into perspective, the United State's great HPAI H5 epizootic of 2014-2015 affected roughly 230 farms, while the number of farm outbreaks across Europe now exceeds 830 - and that number continues to climb. 

Follow the link to download the entire PDF report, including additional maps and links. 

Updated Outbreak Assessment number 11
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 in the UK and Europe
22 February 2017 Ref: VITT/1200 Avian Influenza in UK & Europe

Disease report


All wild bird positives are published on a weekly basis on the APHA website at Only exceptional reports in new regions or unusual wild bird findings (ie a change to the disease epidemiology) will be officially reported separately.

Situation assessment

The situation in Europe has continued with wild bird findings still being reported. However the list of species which are now testing positive involves more swans, including whooper and mute swans (Cygnus cygnus and Cygnus olor respectively). The reasons for this may be simply that as large, white birds, they are easier to spot but more importantly, these are relatively sedentary birds once they have arrived at a wintering site, so they will have greater contact with contaminated environment and therefore be more likely to become infected than a transitory visitor. Elsewhere, the number of outbreaks across Europe, the Middle East, West Africa and Asia has also continued to increase; new countries reporting H5N8 include Kuwait and Cameroon. There have been around 820 outbreaks in poultry and 38 in captive birds reported now to the EU ADNS system (which may include non-EU countries) and a small number of H5N5 reports and each day more reports are made, particularly for wild bird findings.

As a result of the continuing reporting in the EU, the risk level for the UK is maintained at “HIGH” for an incursion of an infected wild bird, and as “LOW TO MEDIUM” for introduction of infection to poultry on individual premises dependent on the level of on-farm biosecurity. Commercial poultry premises with good or high biosecurity measures are unlikely to get disease. The widespread locations of the positive wild bird findings suggest that we should consider the whole of the UK as a risk area for wild bird infection but that areas with populations of waterfowl species may carry a greater risk proportionally in terms of risk level for poultry premises.

As a result of the increase in positive findings in wild birds in Europe, we ask that the public use the Defra helpline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77) to report findings of dead wild birds. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey and where more than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location.

Further information is available here: including updated biosecurity advice for poultry keepers which they should take note of:


We continue to consider the risk level is high for further introductions via wild birds, but the risk of entry into poultry farms remains as low to medium depending on the level of biosecurity. Several EU countries have now kept birds indoors for up to 12 weeks and therefore a decision may be made for birds to be turned out to retain free range status. If they are released onto ranges with environmental contamination then further outbreaks could occur, and in the current climate and season, virus can remain in the environment for several weeks at this time of year.

We would like to remind all poultry keepers that the clinical signs of this virus are variable and will depend on the species, but any suspicion of production drop, increased mortality, sick and depressed birds with a temperature and neurological signs should be initially discussed with their private veterinarian.

We will continue to report on the situation

International Disease Monitoring team 

FAO H7N9 Update - February 22nd


Although based on incomplete data, the chart above illustrates just how dramatically H7N9 has taken off in China during this 5th epidemic wave.

With historically at least a couple of months left to China's `winter epidemic season' - and the delays inherent in testing and reporting out of China - these numbers are only going to rise in the weeks ahead.

I've only excerpted part of today's report from the FAO.  Follow the link for all the charts, graphs, and links.

           22 February 2017, 17:00 hours; Rome

The next update will be issued on 8 March 2017
Situation: Influenza A(H7N9) virus with pandemic potential.
Country: China; three human cases originated in China and were reported in Malaysia (1) and Canada (2).
Number of human cases: 1230 confirmed; 428 deaths (since February 2013)
Provinces/municipalities: Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin municipalities; Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shandong, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan and Zhejiang Provinces of China; Hong Kong SAR; Macao SAR, Guangxi, Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions; Sabah (Malaysia); British Columbia (Canada).
Animal/environmental findings: over 2,000 virological samples from the environment, chickens, pigeons, ducks and a tree sparrow tested positive; positives mainly from live bird markets, vendors and some commercial or breeding farms.
FAO actions: liaise with China and partners, monitor situation, monitor virus evolution, conduct market chain analysis, risk assessment, surveillance guidance and communication.

Situation update


  • 21 February, Jiangxi: Nanchang City closed all LBMs and live bird trading places for 14 days, from 22 February to 7 March [reference]. Environmental sample collected by the County CDC in a poultry trading market in Yujiang County, Yingtan city, Jiangxi Province tested positive for H7 on 13 February. The affected market was closed from 16 to 22 February [reference].
  • 20 February, Taiwan: A recent H7N9 isolate from an imported human case (exposed in Guangdong) showed three additional basic amino acids inserted at the HA cleavage site; this may be a sign for increased pathogenicity in poultry [reference].
  • 19 February, Guangdong: Transport of all live birds was temporary suspended from Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and other H7N9 epidemiologically high risk provinces. In addition the province also temporarily suspended transport of commercial live birds from Fujian, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hunan, Hubei, Liaoning, Shandong, Shanghai, Sichuan, and others with infected cases (excluding poultry certified after negative pathogen detection test) [reference].
  • 18 February, Guangdong: Highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H7N9) virus was confirmed in samples collected from a live bird market (LBM) by the National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza in Harbin. The affected live poultry market has been closed and surveillance is strengthened in the whole province [reference]. A similar virus was also isolated from two human cases. Both reported contact with live poultry and epidemiological investigations revealed mortalities in the respective poultry flocks. The isolates are genetically similar to the influenza A (H7N9) virus circulating in China since 2013 but showed additional basic amino acids inserted at the HA cleavage site; this may be a sign for increased pathogenicity in poultry [reference].
  • 18 February, Anhui: Chizhou City temporarily shut down all domestic poultry markets from 18 February for 14 days [reference].
  • 14 February, Guangdong: In Zhuhai City, routine environmental influenza monitoring detected H7 positive samples from two markets in Jinwan and Doumen Districts. Both markets were temporarily closed from 15 to 17 February (3 days) [reference].


  • Since the last update (15 February 2017), 56 new human cases have been reported in Hubei (11), Jiangsu (9), Zhejiang (8), Guangdong (7), Anhui (4), Fujian (4), Jiangxi (3), Hunan (2), Shandong (2), Sichuan (2), Liaoning (1), Yunnan (1), Guangxi (1) and Guizhou (1).
  • For detailed information on human cases, please refer to WHO's Disease Outbreak News.
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China MOA Meeting: Control and Prevention Of H7N9 both `Complex and Grim''



The series of very high level (and highly publicized) meetings on China's H7N9 epidemic continues (see yesterdays' NHFPC Holds National Video Conference, Releases Treatment Guidelines For H7N9) with a national video conference held today by their Ministry of Agriculture.
While details on the size and scope of China's epidemic remain elusive, we've no shortage of photo ops this week showing serious looking officials seated around massive meeting tables, working together on solutions. It's almost a meme.
Although this meeting obviously focused on H7N9, other major animal diseases (including FMD, PED, brucellosis, and other avian flu viruses) were also on the agenda. 

Despite the recurrent theme of this video conference, imploring attendees to `do a good job against H7N9', the overall tone comes off as pretty somber.  (Note: some translation software returns `complicated and grave' instead of `complex and grim').

Ministry of Agriculture held in 2017 national H7N9 influenza and major animal disease prevention and control work video conference stressed
Do a good job of key measures to implement
Do a good job H7N9 flu and major animal disease prevention and control work

Date: 2017-02-22 18:20 Author: Source: Ministry of Agriculture Information Office

February 22, the Ministry of Agriculture held in 2017 the National H7N9 influenza and major animal disease prevention and control work video conference, requiring all levels of animal husbandry and veterinary departments to seriously study and implement the spirit of the State Council executive meeting, accurately grasp the current animal epidemic situation, and effectively implement Key measures to do a good job H7N9 influenza and major animal disease prevention and control work for the development of agriculture and rural areas and the people's lives and health to provide a strong guarantee.

Vice Minister of Agriculture Yu Kangzhen pointed out that the current situation of China's animal disease prevention and control complex and grim, facing challenges and pressures.
Animal husbandry and veterinary departments at all levels should attach great importance to H7N9 influenza prevention and control work, and strive to eliminate the risk hidden dangers. To the basis of preliminary work, to further strengthen the department to discuss, information communication and measures linkage. Effectively implement the poultry H7N9 flu removal plan, strengthen the monitoring and epidemiological investigation, do a good job monitoring removed.
Take the initiative to cooperate with the relevant departments to establish the live poultry market 1110 system (one day a cleaning, one disinfection on Monday, one month off, overnight inventory). Strengthen the prevention and control knowledge publicity, popular H7N9 influenza prevention and control and consumption of poultry products knowledge, and guide the public rational consumption. To adhere to the risk prevention and production development "hands", and actively promote the transformation and upgrading of poultry industry, and strive for animal epidemic prevention and control and aquaculture development double harvest.

Yu Kangzhen stressed that all localities should do a good job in major animal disease prevention and control work, focusing on foot and mouth disease, avian flu,
brucellosis and other priority prevention and treatment of diseases, strengthen the basic immune, strengthen the monitoring and early warning. Efforts to promote brucellosis, hydatid disease and other key zoonotic disease prevention and control made new progress, in an orderly manner to promote Ma Chuan and small ruminant disease eradication assessment work. Increase the prevention and control of common diseases such as pig diarrhea, strengthen the prevention of foreign animal diseases, effectively reduce the risk of foreign outbreaks.
To strengthen supervision and enforcement, to strengthen the movement of livestock and poultry control, and gradually establish a risk assessment and laboratory testing based on the production quarantine system to speed up the promotion from the breeding to the slaughter of the entire chain of veterinary health supervision capacity, and effectively protect the aquaculture production and veterinary public health safety