Dossier Avian Influenza: Why does China seems to have only human cases?

What is happening in China with outbreaks under High Pathogen Avian Influenza under poultry? There is little to no news about outbreaks coming out of the Peoples Republic.

It might have be influenced by Chinese new year, when millions of people celebrate this traditional feast with their family in the town where they’re originated from. But the number of human cases is sharply climbing, with a number of 42 new human cases of H7N9 in Guangdong.

Another report is stating more than 500 human cases in China since the first outbreaks in 2014.

Especially in Vietnam, the authorities are worried about the outbreaks in China.

The last real news was from December 2014 in the South China Morning Post, flagging indifference.
China seems not to be effected by outbreaks of H5N1, H5N2, H5N3, H5N8 or H7N9, as opposed to other parts in the world, like:

Taiwan
South Korea
Japan
North America
Nigeria (in 11 states now)
Canada
Egypt
Israel
Bulgaria

Unless the human infections are transmitted from human-to-human (what has been categorically denied, because that would mean that H7N9 is close to become its human pandemic state), H7N9 is going like wild fire, without notification in the Western/English language press. It does not mean that China doesn’t publish outbreaks, but it will be carefully being done in local Chinese newspapers, like the Chinese government officials did during the outbreaks of H5N1 in 2004.

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Dossier H5N8: HPAI is spreading under resident birds and dogs in Asia

The current outbreaks of High Pathogen Avian Influenza is a growing concern since the virus is spreading via migratory birds and is causing other animal species becoming carrier of the virus.

With 95% of Taiwan’s’ population of gees and ducks on farms being culled within a time frame of 3 weeks, and the current spreading to layer- and turkey farms, it is absolutely necessary for the veterinary authorities in Taiwan and South Korea to step up their emergency control measures and to improve the bio security during outbreak situations.

H5N3 causes mortality amongst resident birds in Taiwan
According to a statement of Taiwans’ Animal Health Inspection and Quarantine Institute on January 19, three Chinese bulbuls (白頭翁) were confirmed to have been infected with H5N3 avian flu that has hit Taiwan, becoming the latest victims of the bird flu strain that has already attacked local geese and ducks, a local animal health agency said Monday.

The birds were found dead on Jan. 14 in central Taiwan’s Miaoli County within 1 kilometer of a slaughterhouse for fowl, according to the county’s Animal Health Inspection and Quarantine Institute.

Antigens of H5N3 found in dogs in South Korea
Avian influenza was found in a dog on a farm in South Gyeongsang Province amid growing concerns that the disease could spread to other animals, officials the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said. The dog ― one of three at a duck farm in Goseong-gun, South Gyeongsang Province ― had antigens for the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said. The disease affected the farm on Jan. 23.

Since the first case of a dog being infected with the poultry virus in March 2014, there have been 55 dogs found with antibodies to the bird flu virus. The antibody means the immune system of the dogs eliminated the virus. This is the first time bird flu has been found in a dog in Korea through the detection of antigens.

“None of these dogs had shown symptoms. No antigens or antibodies for the virus were found in the two other dogs, which means that dog-to-dog transmission is unlikely to have happened,” quarantine officials said.

The ministry suspected that the dog may have eaten infected animals at the farm. All poultry and dogs at the concerned farm were slaughtered as part of the preventive measures right after the farm was reported to have been infected with the disease, officials said.

Meanwhile, quarantine officials rejected the possibility of viral transmission to humans. According to the ministry’s report, about 450 workers at infected farms across the country had been given an antigen test, with none showing signs of infection. None of Korea’s 20,000 farm workers have reported any symptoms so far, officials added.

“It is thought that infected dogs do not show symptoms of the disease as they are naturally resistant to bird flu,” the ministry said. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry has toughened the quarantine measures in Goseong-gun. The region is a frequented by migratory birds, which are suspected to have spread the viral disease.

As of Monday, more than 1.8 million poultry had been slaughtered since the first outbreak in September last year in South Jeolla Province.

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Dossier H5N8 in the USA: Update on Avian Influenza Findings in the Pacific Flyway

The United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed several findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the Pacific flyway since mid-December. The first commercial poultry detection [JRH1] was in a turkey flock in California on January 23. USDA considers this finding to be part of the ongoing avian influenza disease incident. Commercial poultry producers follow strict biosecurity practices and raise their birds in very controlled environments. There is no immediate public health concern as a result of these detections.

Poultry Findings confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories Include:

Captive Wild Bird Findings Confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories:

Wild Bird Findings confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories are available here.

Surveillance for avian influenza is ongoing in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.
USDA is coordinating closely with its partners, including Washington, Oregon and California, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho State officials, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on avian influenza surveillance, reporting, and control efforts. The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, where we actively look for the disease and provide 100% compensation to affected producers to encourage reporting.
USDA continues to report these findings to the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) as part of the ongoing Pacific Flyway avian influenza incident. USDA is working with trading partners to minimize trade impacts on poultry and poultry products as much as possible.
All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, need to continue practicing good biosecurity, preventing contact between their birds and wild birds, and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov

USDA emphasizes that poultry, poultry products and wild birds (see biosecurity and wild birds) are safe to eat if they are properly handled and cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Background Information
The H5N8 virus originated in Asia and spread rapidly along wild bird migratory pathways during 2014, including the Pacific flyway. In the Pacific flyway, the H5N8 virus has mixed with North American avian influenza viruses, creating new mixed-origin viruses. This is not unexpected. These mixed-origin viruses contain the Asian-origin H5 part of the virus, which is highly pathogenic to poultry. The N parts of these viruses came from North American low pathogenic avian influenza viruses.
USDA has identified two mixed-origin viruses in the Pacific Flyway: the H5N2 virus and new H5N1 virus. The new H5N1 virus is not the same virus as the H5N1 virus found in Asia that has caused some human illness. The new H5N1 virus is not expected to be a human-health risk, but rather to have the same or a lower risk than H5N8. Detailed analysis of the virus is underway in cooperation with CDC.

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Dossier Taiwan: Poultry cull called inhumane

Taipei Times, Sat, Jan 31, 2015 By Sean Lin, Staff reporter. With the number of birds culled in response to the avian influenza outbreaks exceeding 1.7 million, the Environment and Animal Society Taiwan (EAST) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) yesterday slammed what they said were inhumane practices adopted by local governments. The Council of Agriculture also came under fire from the society, who said the council had not updated its culling procedure in compliance with international standards and had been negligent in its duty to monitor the exterminations.

At a news conference in Taipei, EAST played video footage shot during culls last weekend at six poultry farms in Yunlin County — the area most severely hit by the outbreak — and demanded that the council assume responsibility for what it called the cruel treatment of the birds, which included dead and living geese bagged together in blood-stained hessian bags and then snatched up by a crane with a metal claw. Living birds could be seen struggling inside the bags, some of which the group said had been left for more than 12 hours as culling personnel waited for the fowl to suffocate. Geese were shown grabbed by the neck — appearing to be in considerable pain — before being put into the bags.

Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Shih Tai-hua (施泰華) had said that carbon dioxide was used to sedate animals before culling, but EAST chief executive Wu Hung (朱增宏) disputed that, saying that his group’s findings showed that culling undertaken at most farms was carried out without the gas, in violation of extermination guidelines stipulated by the World Organization for Animal Health, of which Taiwan is a member. Wu also rejected Shih’s assertion that soldiers had been deployed to disinfect vehicles along roads used by culling personnel to transport dead birds to incinerators or rendering plants — a disease control measure the bureau pledged to implement last week. Meanwhile, the group’s investigation into extermination efforts by nine local governments highlighted the lack of a standard operating procedure in the extermination methods adopted by local governments.

Yunlin County said that its personnel froze geese with dry ice and Changhua County said exterminators suffocated waterfowl showing weak vital signs with hessian sacks. Pingtung and Chiayi counties, as well as Greater Tainan, used chloral hydrate to cull birds — a practice that has been banned by the US Department of Agriculture because the compound is a weak sedative. None of the local governments that used carbon dioxide were able to provide information on the concentration or quantities used, the probe showed.

Citing World Organization for Animal Health extermination guidelines, Wu said that carbon dioxide — at 40 percent to 70 percent concentration — should be introduced gradually directly into poultry houses to sedate or kill the birds in a manner that causes minimum distress. Alternatively, fowl can be placed into plastic or metal containers into which carbon dioxide is introduced to ensure that fowl are properly anesthetized prior to extermination, Wu said, adding that placing birds into hessian sacks did not meet this requirement.

Lin questioned the council’s inactivity over improving culling methods despite the millions of New Taiwan dollars in grants it has distrubuted to academics to conduct research into the field, the results of which include an article describing an automated carbon dioxide administering bagging machine, written by National Chiayi University professor Huang Ching-hsiang (黃慶祥), and an article published in 2008 on an alkaline foam-spraying system for chicken euthanization by National Chung Hsing University professor Yang Chi (楊繼). However, Shih said chloral hydrate was used to sedate the birds and the practice should therefore be considered humane. He said that the bureau would address its administrative negligence and improve its extermination measures.

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Dossier Taiwan: H5N3 as the third bird flu strain identified in Taiwan outbreak

A third highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza that is new to Taiwan was identified Friday as outbreaks of bird flu have spread to more poultry farms on the island, animal health authorities said Friday.

Chang Su-san, director general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, told a press conference that birds on 101 goose, duck and chicken farms in northern, central and southern parts of the island have been confirmed to be infected with the H5N2, H5N8 or H5N3 subtypes of bird flu virus.

Tsai Hsiang-jung, director general of the Animal Health Research Institute under the Cabinet’s Council of Agriculture, said DNA sequencing indicates it is a hybrid of an N3 strain responsible for the outbreaks Thailand in 2012, in Mongolia in 2010, and Kaohsiung last year, and an H5 strain responsible for outbreaks among poultry in South Korea last year. The new strain – H5N3 – was found at two goose farms in Kaohsiung and Pingung, both in southern Taiwan, marking the first time for the strain to be identified in Taiwan.

The new H5N2 strain has so far only been found in Taiwan. DNA sequencing indicates it is a hybrid of an H5N2 strain that was responsible for outbreaks among poultry in South Korea last year and China in 2011.

As for the H5N8 subtype, the latest bird flu outbreaks mark the first time for it to be identified in Taiwan. Outbreaks among poultry were reported in Europe, South Korea, China and Japan last year. It is believed to pose little or no risk to humans.

Authorities indicated that the viruses may have been carried to Taiwan by migratory birds.

On a press conference, organized by the animal welfare organization EAST in Taipei on Friday January 29 2015, the Taiwanese authorities said that they would respect the OIE Terrestrial Code on Killing of Animals for Disease Prevention and Control during culling operations, indicating that they are using approved techniques to apply CO2. The techniques are generally described in the OIE Terrestrial Code. The code does not provide the Standard Operational Procedures to apply these techniques. Applying CO2 by adding a gas tube into a plastic bag is not described as an approved method.

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