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HPAI in Europe
By Jackie Linden | February 24, 2017 |

Spain has first avian flu case in commercial poultry

Virus continues to strike flocks throughout Europe

Veterinary authorities in Spain have reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) the country’s first outbreak of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza in commercial poultry.

The first signs of the presence of the virus were an increase in mortality among ducks in one of 10 poultry houses on the farm in Girona in the region of Catalonia. A total of 723 birds died and the remaining 17,077 have been humanely destroyed.

Meanwhile, national veterinary agencies have confirmed new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry in France, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany and Italy.

France: 70 new outbreaks confirmed

According to a report from the French agriculture ministry on February 23rd, there have now been 333 confirmed outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI in poultry – an increase of 70 from the previous week. All cases have been in the south-west of the country.

The ministry’s latest weekly report to on the avian flu situation to the OIE records 46 new outbreaks starting between February 6 and 13. Almost all of these were on farms, and the majority were in the department of Landes. More than 218,000 birds died or have been humanely destroyed following detection of the virus, but the number of birds has not been officially recorded for many of these outbreaks and so are not included in that figure.

Although clinical symptoms were observed in a few of these outbreaks, the majority of cases were confirmed through surveillance of poultry in areas where the avian flu situation is unstable, or at premises located within the protection zone around previous outbreaks, or before transport to the slaughterhouse.

As part of the surveillance testing for HPAI, the veterinary service in France has also detected a low-pathogenic H5N1 virus in ducks and geese at four farms, two in each of the departments of Gers and Tarn.

New outbreaks reported in poultry in Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, and Italy

A total of 57 outbreaks of HPAI caused by an H5 virus have been confirmed by the veterinary authority in Bulgaria to the OIE in the last week. All started between December 20 and February 9. While the majority of outbreaks were in wild birds or at zoos, almost 560,000 poultry died or were destroyed from commercial and backyard flocks.

Germany’s federal ministry of food and agriculture (BMEL) reports the latest number of HPAI outbreaks in the country at 72 (including zoos and animal parks), which is six more than a week ago.

According to the same ministry’s report to the OIE, theH5N8 HPAI virus has been confirmed in six poultry flocks between February 7 and 20. Three of these were in small backyard flocks, but the others were on commercial farms and numbered more than 138,000 birds. Affected were ducks – both breeding and fattening – in Brandenburg, and laying hens in North Rhine Westphalia.

Leading to the loss of more than 95,000 poultry, there have been three new outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI in Poland, according to the latest report received by the OIE.
Italy’s health authority and research institute for animal health, IZSVe, reports two new HPAI outbreaks caused by the H5N8 virus.

The first was in a commercial flock of more than 41,000 growing turkeys in the area of Verona in the region of Veneto. After the infection was confirmed, the Ministry of Health ordered the preventative slaughter of another nearby flock of around 8,000 growing turkeys. A flock of almost 22,000 growing turkeys in the Mantua area of the region of Lombardy was affected in the second HPAI outbreak. This farm was in the protection zone set up following an HPAI outbreak in mid-February.

Four backyard poultry flocks in Romania and one in Slovakia have tested positive for the H5N8 virus, according to reports received by the OIE in the last week.

HPAI virus detected in wild and captive birds

In addition to these recent outbreaks of HPAI in poultry, the H5N8 virus has also been detected in wild birds in Poland, Spain, Romania, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, as reported by the respective national veterinary authorities to the OIE.

In Ukraine, 10 Indian peafowl died at a zoo in Mykolayiv, and subsequently tested positive for the H5N8 HPAI virus.

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