Animal Welfare & Disease Control Seminar Sept 23, 2015: Introduction of Avian Influenza into the industry

During the FLI Animal Welfare and Disease Control Seminar, organized at September 23, 2015 in Celle, Germany, a group of experts will give their vision on how the possible contribution of each transmission route could be determined and how a revolutionary new response strategy could be developed, based on the principle of neutralizing transmission routes.

There are several factors, which contribute to the unique presentation of an avian influenza outbreak, like the relationship of this virus with wild waterfowl. The virus is highly pathogenic for chickens and turkeys but not pathogenic for waterfowl.
Since the virus in our current outbreak is not pathogenic for waterfowl, the vast flocks of healthy virus-infected migratory geese and ducks travel thousands of miles, entering into commercial poultry-producing regions while shedding tremendous quantities of infectious avian influenza virus in their feces.
You are more than welcome to participate in this English-spoken event. You can sign up by replying your name, including the name of your institute/company, to angelika.gaupp@fli.bund.de, or by fax: +49/5141-3846-117.

We wanted this seminar to be accessible for all, and for that reason, the participation fee is € 70 only. Unfortunately, the number of participants is limited, so in case you’re interested, please let us know and respond before August 31, 2015. After you signed up, you will receive your detailed payment instructions.

This international – English-language based – seminar is open for animal welfare specialists, veterinary specialists, and emergency response experts. The event takes place on the premises of FLI; starts at 9 AM; and closes at 4 PM, after the general discussion.

In case you need more information or any assistance, please contact me on: 0046 761 731 779 or by mail on harm.kie@gmail.com.

You are very welcome to pass this invitation to all of your colleagues, who may also be interested in the seminar.

I am looking forward to see you there.

Kind regards,
Harm Kiezebrink

Associate Research Fellow FLI

Federal Research Institute for Animal Health
Friedrich Loeffler Institute
Dörnbergstr. 25/27 | 29223 Celle
Tel: +49 5141 3846 130 | Fax: +49 5141 3846 117
http://www.fli.bund.de/

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Dossier AI Transmission: David Stallknecht doubts the role migratory birds spreading AI

The question what causes the current outbreaks in Minnesota is heavily discussed, especially the role of migratory birds. USDA APHIS tends to the opinion that migratory birds play an important role. In that case, H5N2 will likely remain a threat to U.S. poultry for three to five years, Olson said, citing information from wildlife experts. That is how long it will take wild birds to develop immunity to the disease. Since the beginning of the year, the flu, which can kill nearly an entire poultry flock within 48 hours, has also been found in birds from Oregon to Arkansas. The discoveries have prompted major overseas buyers such as Mexico and Canada to limit imports of U.S. poultry and companies such as Tyson Foods Inc to strengthen measures to keep the disease off farms.

The number of infections is climbing as migratory ducks, which are believed to be spreading the disease, return to Minnesota to breed after spending the winter farther south, said Beth Thompson, assistant director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. The larger number of ducks likely increases the risk for wild birds to transmit the virus.

Farm workers are probably infecting turkeys by tracking the virus into barns after stepping in contaminated duck feces, said John Glisson, vice president of research for the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. Chicken flocks are also vulnerable. “Minnesota is a real hotbed for returning waterfowl,” Glisson said. The USDA has said it believes migratory ducks are spreading the flu and sent a team to Minnesota to determine how it is moving into poultry flocks. So far, efforts to stop the spread by controlling human and vehicle traffic on farms have not worked.

The number of infections may continue to rise through mid-May, when spring migration ends, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. New cases may accelerate again in the autumn when recently hatched ducks, which have never been exposed to the virus, begin migrating south, he added.

In the absence of reliable epidemiological data about the spreading under wildfowl population, the source of infection will continue to spark speculations about the role of migratory birds.

Despite all evidence, there are scientists who have reason to doubt the thesis that migratory birds are to blame, like Professor David Stallknecht from University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. David is openly questioning the USDA’s conclusion. David Stallknecht called the notion that avian flu originated in wild birds “pure speculation” in a story posted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

David Stallknecht: “It is based on circumstantial evidence that is rapidly becoming accepted dogma. The avian flu saga dates back to late last year, when H5N2 struck several farms in British Columbia. That sparked surveillance programs in the U.S., which turned up cases of pintail duck virus in Washington and a related strain in a captive gyrfalcon nearby. Since then, cases of H5N2 have shown up in poultry in several states, including Idaho, Minnesota and Arkansas.”

In order to stop large-scale outbreaks, more efforts have to be undertaken to protect commercial flocks and to predict future outbreaks. Even more reasons to increase the active surveillance efforts, including the crucial active surveillance programs under wild birds, like Stallknecht suggests.

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Dossier H5N1: Local veterinary officials failed timely notifying large-scale HPAI outbreak

HYDERABAD: It was only after 39,240 birds perished that the state animal husbandry department woke up to the deadly avian influenza virus doing the rounds on the city outskirts. The deaths of layer birds (used for egg production) took place in two poultry farms in Thorrur village of Hayatnagar mandal a full one week before the government declared the bird flu outbreak.

The owners of the two poultry farms, V Bala Krishna Reddy and Srinivas Reddy, had reported the deaths of the birds from April 6-April 13 to the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory (HSADL). The lab, in turn, informed the central government following the samples of the dead birds sent to them by the Reddy brothers turning positive for the H5N1 virus.

The state animal husbandry department, which was in the dark of the developments all this while, was finally informed about the outbreak by the central government’s department of animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries.

The break-up of poultry deaths that fell prey to the avian influenza include 80 (April 6), 160 (April 7), 400 (April 8), 1,600 (April 9), 2,500 (April 10), 17,500 (April 11), 9,000 (April 12) and 7,500 deaths (April 13) respectively, as per records in possession with TOI.

“This is a glaring example of how the government officials had utterly failed in reporting the disease, which is mandatory for all notified diseases including H5N1, as required under The Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009. The stakeholders must be held accountable now as the damage has already been done,” said city-based wildlife expert Dr C Srinivasulu.

In fact, the Section 4 of the Act states that it is obligatory for the owner or any person in charge of any animal which he has reason to believe to be infective of a scheduled disease, to report the fact to village panchayat or villager officer, who in turn has to report it to the nearest government veterinarian.

However, it is learnt that nothing of this sort happened with top officials of the directorate of animal husbandry, Telangana, admitting that neither their veterinary assistant surgeon Anand Reddy nor two village livestock officers (VLOs) of Hayatnagar mandal in Ranga Reddy had any inkling of the outbreak in their local jurisdiction.

Interestingly, Dr Y Thirupathaiah, additional director, directorate of animal husbandry, Telangana gave a clean chit to their officials. “Our people cannot be blamed as the burden of sharing information about the outbreak of infective diseases vests with the village officer and the panchayat. We will be writing to the Ranga Reddy collectorate for action against the erring officials,” he said, acknowledging that they learnt about the outbreak from central government sources on April 13.

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Dossier H5N2: Questionable role for hunters in introducing AI at US farms

In the U.S. new strains of avian flu that are highly infectious among birds have been found on commercial turkey farms in many states, as The Wall Street Journal has reported. An initial outbreak of H5N8 detected in a Californian turkey flock in January has mixed with North American avian flu strains to generate two new strains, including H5N2, which has been detected along the Pacific bird migration route in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that H5N2 had been detected in Minnesota, the first instance of the disease in the Mississippi bird migration route. The virus has spread further to commercial turkey farms in Missouri and Arkansas, including to suppliers of Butterball turkeys.

In an editorial, published online at chick-site.com – March 25, 2015, Dr. Simon M. Shane questions the role of field researchers in transmitting infections from wildlife reservoirs to commercial farms. A March 13th article published by Reuters authored by Tom Polansek highlights questions by wildlife biologists as to the status of migratory waterfowl as reservoirs of H5N2 Avian Influenza which has been isolated from turkey farms in Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas.

It is an irrefutable fact that identical strains of the pathogen have been isolated from affected turkey farms and from waterfowl. The weight of molecular evidence extending back to 2012 indicates the role of migratory birds in the process of genetic reassortment and dissemination from Asia along the Pacific Flyway.

Dr. Brian McCluskey, Lead Epidemiologist for the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service stated “we are pointing right now to ducks as the problem.” Exhaustive assays using advanced analytical techniques including gene sequencing have indicated that the H5N2 virus is carried by waterfowl along the Mississippi Flyway and now more recently the Central Flyway, northward from the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Hon Ip a Microbiologist for the National Wildlife Health Center questions the conclusions of the epidemiologists stating “when you are talking about where I would put my money I would say that North to South movement (of infection-Ed.) in the beginning of March totally does not make sense.” The fact that the sequence of infections as confirmed was from North to South, ie. the first case from Minnesota (March 4th) then Missouri (March 9th and 10th) followed by Arkansas (March 11th) all within a short period does not preclude that birds migrating Northwards are transmitting the disease.

Epidemiologic investigations take into account both spatial (location) and temporal (time sequence) factors. It is possible that different groups of ducks, whether by species or age cohort are transmitting virus intra-flock or excreting virus at different rates. Given the small number of outbreaks reported, it is not possible to draw any conclusions such as those expressed by Dr. Ip.

Lou Comicelli, Wildlife Research Manager for the Minnesota Division of Fish and Wildlife stated “it is extraordinary unlikely that avian influenza in a turkey flock in Minnesota has anything to do with wild birds.” This statement is totally unsubstantiated and in fact is contradicted by established scientific investigations. These involved studies on the patterns of seroconversion following infection of range-housed turkeys and sentinels in Minnesota. Strains of avian influenza of low pathogenicity were common to turkeys and waterfowl and antibodies in turkeys were detected concurrently with the appearance of migratory species.

Apparently after the diagnosis of AI in Minnesota turkey flocks was confirmed on March 4th, wildlife officials scouted a 15 mile radius around the farm using an aircraft. Apparently they observed 100 ducks and 18 swans that they concluded were non-migratory “resident birds”. Wildlife biologists in Arkansas also doubt the role of migratory birds because the area where the first case was detected in the state “does not attract many wild birds and waterfowl.”

It is incontrovertible that migratory waterfowl are the reservoirs of H5N2 in the current series of outbreaks involving backyard farms and the few commercial turkey units where the disease has been diagnosed. Obviously defects in biosecurity have allowed the virus to be introduced on to those farms. Possible routes include supplying contaminated, non-chlorinated water from open sources to poultry flocks or failure to implement appropriate personal biosecurity. In this respect workers or contractors hunting or those coming in contact with fecal material voided by waterfowl could have been responsible.

Naturally wildlife biologists are in a state of denial since they are directly and indirectly funded by hunting even though they claim that they are conservationists. Any factor which interferes with their status quo represents a risk to their “field research” and wildlife “management”.

We are now in a new era of avian influenza. No longer is our risk represented by a worker traveling North from Mexico or Guatemala. The paradigm shift requires an understanding of the factors associated with infection and persistence of shedding in migratory waterfowl and the factors linking these reservoir populations with commercial poultry. Cooperation and mutual understanding between wildlife biologist and avian epidemiologists will be necessary to establish appropriate policies relating to commercial poultry production and the recreational exploitation of waterfowl. Denial of scientific fact and an inability to comprehend basic epidemiologic principles coupled with disharmony will detract from productive solutions.

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Dossier AI: Global Poultry Outlook Upbeat

Rabobank has published a new report on the global poultry industry, looking at the impact of avian influenza outbreaks across the sector. In the report, Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team says that pressure from the avian influenza (AI), or bird flu, is further spreading across the globe, with new outbreaks in Asia, Europe and North America.

Rabobank Animal Protein Analyst, Nan-Dirk Mulder, said: “Avian flu is further spreading across the globe and could affect global trade streams, especially as the virus has moved further in Europe to Hungary, and in the US to central states like Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas. “Joint global approaches, optimal biosecurity, and strong monitoring and compensation systems are necessary to stop the spread of the disease,” he added

Global Outlook

The margin outlook for the global poultry industry remains upbeat, with continuing bullish drivers like high beef prices, lower feed costs and relatively strong demand in most regions.

Global trade is under pressure from the AI outbreaks. The exchange rate volatility and turmoil in regions such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe, are leading to lower trade volumes, prices and shifts in trade streams.

United States
The poultry sector in the US has a favourable outlook but some uncertainties remain. The margins are expected to remain high in 2015. The biggest unknown in 2015 is industry expansion.

Brazil
The Brazilian poultry market began 2015 bullish despite of the export challenges. The lower oil price will hit the Middle East demand. Still, exports are expected to be strong in 2015, mostly driven by Asia. Margins will be supported by a reduction in feed costs as well.

Europe
The EU poultry industry shows some recovery and, although supply is currently tight, the outlook is threatened by ongoing avian flu concerns and still closed export markets.

China
Entering the first quarter of 2015, China has an ongoing struggle of oversupply due to AI and food safety issues. As a consequence of human AI cases reported, live bird markets were shut down. During the seasonal peak month, poultry retail prices remained flat.

Russia
The Russian market remains very bullish on low supply. The outlook remains strong, with expected ongoing tight market conditions due to expensive, limited imported volumes and restrictions on growth.

Other Regions
Mexico has ongoing AI issues and lower pork prices will soften poultry meat consumption growth.
Japan’s poultry industry is still bullish despite ongoing AI outbreaks.
In Thailand, the export position is supported by a strong Thai baht.

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Dossier H7N9: virus has been transmitted between humans

A team of virologists, epidemiologists and microbiologists in China has published a study warning that the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus can pass from human to human.

The paper, published in the British Medical Journal, is a case study investigating the apparent transmission of the disease from a father to his daughter, both of whom have since died. It is the first case study of its kind.

“There is great cause for concern in that this is such a lethal form of influenza, we’ve hardly seen anything more lethal”

Peter Openshaw Director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, Director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London.

Although the news will be met with concern in China, where 132 cases have been recorded on the mainland since its outbreak in March across 40 cities, resulting in 43 deaths, it is an incredibly rare instance. It has aways been suspected that other bird influenzas have been passed from human to human on rare occassions. However, as with this rare recorded and researched case, those instances tended to be among genetically related family members, suggesting that those involved have pre-disposed vulnerabilities.

The World Health Organisation issued warnings early this year to the effect that H7N9 is one of the most lethal forms of the bird flu virus, as it appeared to be transmitted far more easily than even the deadly H5N1 virus. “So far it’s been very reassuring not to have signs of human to human transmission, and this is the first well documented case. But we need to appreciate this was a transmission to a blood relative within a family.”

The first cases of H7N9 were reported in early March. Advanced cases present with symptoms including severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. It was not until the end of April, more than a month after the outbreak, and 23 deaths later, that the apparent cause of the disease was detected. It had been traced back to live poultry farms in the east, in particular hubs at Zhejiang along the coast.

The H7 was thought to have derived from domestic ducks in the province, and the N5 from wild birds in South Korea. It was after visiting a live poultry farm that the first patient in the new study fell ill in March this year. He had visited the markets regularly, and had also bought six quails that had already been slaughtered by a vendor a week before falling ill. By contrast, the 60-year-old’s daughter had not — as far as anyone involved in the study knows — had any contact with live poultry, aside from two black swans owned by an employee of her property’s management team. Those swans were swabbed, however, and no sign of the virus showed up in samples.

The daughter cared for her father on and off throughout his illness, which was initially not diagnosed as bird flu. In the early stages of his illness she cared for him at home, but also routinely visited him in hospital once admitted. The father, who had a history of hypertension, fell ill on 8 March and deteriortated rapidly from the 18 March. It was on 21 March that the daughter, who had no underlying health issues, fell ill. Multiple courses of antibiotics did not thwart the disease, and she died of multi-organ failure and cardiac arrest on 24 April 2013.

Although the study’s authors admit there’s no way of knowing whether the daughter did in fact have some other contact with poultry (both patients had died by the time the investigation began), they believe the genetic evidence is enough to confirm the transmission from father to daughter.

“Sequence analysis showed that both possessed high degrees of similarity between nucleotide (99.6 percent to 99.9 percent) and amino acid (99.0 percent and 100 percent) sequences,” write the authors. The only other person to provide beside care for the father was his son-in-law (who did not fall ill), along with the doctors and nurses that would have attended to him — further circumstantial evidence suggesting it’s the genetics that’s the key to the human to human transmission. In total 39 hospital workers came into contact with the pair, and none fell ill.

“We know that there are genetic factors that contribute to human to human transmission,” according to Openshaw. “Some people are much more susceptible to flu than others, and that’s the reason it’s such a devastating disease. It’s shared genetic factors that makes people vulnerable.”

Going forward, Openshaw says the public has to realise that although cases of human to human transmission are rare, we should be abiding by standard safety measures stringently, as though infection were a real possibility.

“In hospital when you know someone has it, all precautions are taken in order to protect staff, but actually it’s very rare among most strains for transmission to happen. It’s the reason Sars became so deadly — it transmitted very well to healthcare staff, and other patients.” Openshaw recommends never dropping any kind of safety measures. For instance, some healthcare workers will just wear a mask, and not gloves, or scrubs but not a mask. “Relatives will be caring for their sick and elderly and although absolute protection is very hard to guarantee, we should never drop any measures.”

Openshaw did commend China for managing to curb the spread of the disease quite effectively, after closing a series of poultry markets.

“The Chinese are really good at doing things properly in a way that’s hard to achieve in perhaps more liberal countries, and that should be admired. Whether it comes back again when the season returns is the question. People are holding their breath to see if it truly went away or it’s just a pause, because we know a lot of flu is quite seasonal.”

When it comes to protecting future generations from human to human transmission, Openshaw says we need to be doing more to identify the underlying genetic causes that make some people more vulnerable to infection than others.

“We need to show how much variations in the virus contribute, and how much variations in the human host contribute.” Openshaw is currently working with 45 research groups based in the UK and abroad to find the answer. Eight thousand samples have been gathered from patients hospitalised due to severe flu in London and Liverpool, and the team has just begun to trawl through that data to look for recurring patterns.

A past study published in Nature, of which Openshaw was an author, found that those with the gene IFITM3 and the protein used to encode it, were more likely to be hospitalised because of flu.

“It’s a major risk factor in our hospital study, and that finding has been replicated in Southeast Asia where it’s quite normal to see big variations in IFITM3 — among Han Chinese it’s about 25 percent, and among Japanese there is a variation of up to 40 percent.”

Openshaw says he and his team have a list of around 20 genes that appear to be associated with flu vulnerability, and he hopes to have the opportunity to further investigate samples from the father and daughter, who were not tested for IFITM3.

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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 H5N8: H5N2/H5N8 viruses not transmissible to humans

Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) The new H5N2 and H5N8 avian influenza virus strains recently detected on poultry farms in Taiwan are not transmissible to humans, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Saturday.

An analysis of the genome sequence of the viruses indicates that they are of avian origin and entered Taiwan recently, according to CDC deputy chief Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥). The H5N2 and H5N8 strains did not mutate from viruses found previously in Taiwan, he said.

The H5N8 virus isolated in Taiwan is highly homologous with the strains found in South Korea, Japan, the United States, Canada and Germany and it shows weak ability to replicate in mammals, Chuang said.

Compared with the H7N9 virus that can infect humans, the H5N8 virus is significantly less risky, he said.

He stressed the new H5N2 and H5N8 outbreaks in Taiwan are limited to poultry and that there have been no reports of human infection. The CDC will continue to monitor the outbreaks and check for any mutations of the viruses, he added.

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Dossier H5N8: Concerns over outbreaks on a global scale and how it effects the US poultry industry

Based on publications on Reconbinomics.com and WATTAgnet.com, January 14, 2015. The appearance of the two Fujian H5 serotypes in Taiwan raises concerns of a significant global expansion, which is supported by the detection of two Fujian H5 serotypes in the US (also H5N8 and H5N2). H5N2 has also been reported in British Columbia, less than 7 miles from the wild bird positives in Washington, but Canada has not reported H5N8 or H5N2 raising serious surveillance concerns. Moreover, neither Canada nor the US has released any H5N2 or H5N8 sequences with Fujian H5.

A far more aggressive surveillance program under wild birds the throughout US would be useful to demonstrate the potential threat of outbreaks is taken serious. Migratory birds might have introduced the virus, but it is absolutely not clear whether or not also stand birds have become carrier of the virus. In that case, the virus might be easily transmittable to the US poultry heartlands.

These surveillance concerns are also present in European countries reporting H5N8 in commercial farms, but no reports in wild birds (England and Italy) as well as neighboring countries who have not reported H5N8 cases.

The recent report of HPAI H5 in Nigeria also raises concerns that H5N8 has migrated to Africa in the absence of any reports for eastern Europe, the Middle East, or northeast Africa.

“The avian influenza virus strain H5N8 was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa in an American widgeon duck, on Jan. 9, 2015. Several other wild birds taken by hunters near the Great Salt Lake in Davis County are also undergoing tests”

The above comments by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food confirm the presence of H5N8 in a hunter killed widgeon in Davis County near the Great Salt Lake. The January 9 confirmation date by the FDA in Iowa suggest that the January 7 warning to hunters people with backyard flocks was linked to PCR confirmation by the Utah State lab, The January 7 warning noted recent confirmation of H5N8 and H5N2 in Washington, Oregon, and California in backyard farms and wild birds.

The location of the Utah widgeon is near the border of the Pacific and Mountain flyways and is the farthest east (see H5N8 map and H5N2 map), which suggests there will be additional detections in the near term, which will undermine USDA efforts to convince other countries from banning imports from the United States. In its most recent OIE filing, the Butte County, California location of the H5N8 gadwall was withheld, but China subsequently banned imports from the US because of Fujian H5 detections in multiple states (which increased to four states with the latest confirmation).

The confirmations thus far have been limited to wild birds and smaller farms, although the farm in Richland, Washington had 500 birds, which were raised for commercial purposes, although the USDA maintains that farms with 200 or 500 birds are not commercial farms.

Surveillance worldwide remains suspect. Although Canada has detected H5N2 in 12 farms in British Columbia, they have not detected H5N2 or H5N8 in wild birds. Similarly, Taiwan failed to detect and/or report an Asian Fujian H5N2 and H5N8 prior to massive infections throughout the western side of the island and no cases have been reported in Fujian Province, less than 80 miles from Taiwan.

The reports of H5N8 in countries in Europe and North America, as well as Asian locations such as Taiwan, raises concerns of a global spread, which may dramatically increase if the H5 in Nigeria is also H5N8.
It spite of this dramatic spread, none of the sequences from North America have been made public by Canada and the US.

Release of these sequences as well as those in Taiwan would be useful. The public sequences have all lost the glycosylation site ate position 158, which is associated with increased gal 2.6 binding, and H5N8 infections in dogs, mice, and rats has been noted.

China bans US poultry and eggs because of avian influenza

The US industry has been hit hard by the current outbreaks. The Chinese government will ban all imports of U.S. poultry and egg products because of recent detections in the U.S. of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in backyard poultry and wild birds in the Pacific Northwest.

In a joint announcement posted on official websites in China, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) imposed nationwide restrictions on imports of processed and unprocessed U.S. poultry and eggs, effective January 8. The ban also applies to breeding stock, which includes live chicks and hatching eggs.

The ban is in response to a December detection of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N8 influenza in wild birds and in a backyard flock of guinea hens and chickens in Oregon, along with separate H5N2 HPAI detections in wild birds in California and Washington State. MOA and AQSIQ imposed the restrictions despite assurances by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that the influenza virus has not been found in any commercial poultry flock in the U.S.

China is a key export market for U.S. chicken, turkey and duck products. From January through November last year, U.S. exports to China reached nearly $272 million.

For China to impose a nationwide ban in response to isolated incidents of HPAI goes against international guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), according to the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). In its Terrestrial Animal Health Code, the OIE recommends that countries adopt a regionalized approach to HPAI incidents to minimize the impact on trade.

APHIS notified the OIE of the Oregon detection, as required. “USDA expects trading partners to respond to this reported detection according to the OIE’s science-based standards,” the agency said in a statement following the Oregon H5N8 detection.
The statement stressed that the virus was contained to the affected premises and has not been found in commercial poultry. APHIS also said that state and federal officials have increased ongoing surveillance of commercial poultry and backyard flocks in the Pacific Northwest.

The agency noted that commercial producers “follow strict biosecurity practices and raise their birds in controlled environments,” which lessens the possibility of an outbreak HPAI in commercial flocks, and that poultry is safe to eat if properly handled and cooked.

“There’s absolutely no justification for China to take such a drastic action,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USAPEEC. “In fact, these isolated and remote incidents are hundreds if not thousands of miles away from major poultry and egg production areas.

“Most all of our other trading partners have taken some sort of regionalized approach, and have limited their restrictions to the state or, in some cases, to the county,” he said. “We would have expected China to do the same.”

China’s nationwide restrictions could also have a negative impact on its domestic poultry industry, Sumner said. “Since the ban also includes U.S. breeding stock, China is cutting off its industry’s main source of hatching eggs and chicks, which will curtail the industry’s ability to replenish and maintain its production.”

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Dossier H5N8: 65 Taiwan Farms With Suspect Fujian H5N8 & H5N2

Taiwan is facing the dramatic spread of H5N2 and H5N8. The number of suspect farms has increased from 38 to 65 and the number of confirmed farms has increased from 9 to 20 in one day. These increases support media reports stating that initial cases may have been noted as early as October, but was being unsuccessfully managed in farms which failed to report unusual deaths or dramatic drops in egg production.

(Translated from the publication in NowNews, Taiwan) Domestic bird flu siren, waterfowl industry is facing the most serious outbreak of bird flu over the years, anti-seizure Bureau today (January 13 2015) announced the latest test results, Yunlin and Chiayi diagnosed then add 11 games goose games, Taiwan estimated to cause 270,000 goose loss; in addition, the submission of new cases and 27 field sampling Bulletin, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung City also received a suspected outbreak, Tainan add a chicken farm, a total of 65 games in Taiwan seven counties abnormal mortality epidemic outbreak.

According to the Bureau of Statistics to anti-seizure ended today 11:00, 11 new confirmed again today goose games, including seven new Yunlin County, Chiayi County, two games, two games in Pingtung County; COA confirmed that this wave of bird flu Waterfowl the first time the most serious outbreak, Taiwan has had 20 confirmed cases of the field is expected to affect 270,000 geese production.

COA noted diagnosed games in 14 games for the new H5N2 subtype avian influenza, six games for the H5N8 subtype of avian influenza; Cai Xiangrong, director of animal health instructions, H5N2 is the country’s second case of a pandemic virus infected waterfowl ducks and geese, is The most serious outbreak first waterfowl, the present value of the peak of the epidemic, the diagnosis field more for the high incidence of goose farm suspected of geese spread of infection.

COA chairman Chen Bao-ji also appeared today in the press conference after the animal epidemic prevention group meeting, Chen Bao-ji said two years ago that have informed the H5N8 outbreak began around through e-mail, conference materials in both statistical frequency; the face of an outbreak, vaccination will be the highest specifications measures with increased culling, please contact the EPA and does not rule out additional military assistance disinfection and treatment of animal carcasses, the first time control, “Let the virus disappeared from Taiwan,” the future of open farms and strengthen protection of migratory birds.

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