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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