WorldPoultry: Taiwan confirms 148 avian flu cases so far this year


Based on official reports, Taiwan and South Korea are bearing the brunt of the current wave of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry. There have also been more cases in both poultry and people in China.

South Africa has reported its first HPAI outbreaks in poultry, and in Europe, the disease has returned to the poultry sector in Belgium, and to the wild bird population in Finland.

Taiwanese poultry continues to be affected by avian flu

Based on reports from its animal health agency to the World Organisation for Animal Health(OIE), Taiwan has been battling HPAI viruses in its poultry population for more than two and a half years. In the last two weeks, the reports have covered 10 outbreaks caused by the H5N2 virus. Nine of these outbreaks involved poultry – six were in chickens, two in turkeys and one in ducks. Four outbreaks were in Yunlin county, with others in the counties of Pingtung and Hualien, and the cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan. The virus was also detected in a dead wild duck in Tainan.

In mid-June, the same authority reported to the OIE detecting the H5N8 HPAI virus in a flock of almost 6,800 ducks at a farm in Tainan. The birds also tested positive for the H5N2 virus.

Between mid-January and early February this year, a low-pathogenic form of the H5N2 virus was detected in three flocks totaling more than 50,000 poultry, according to the OIE report. Affected were farms with turkeys in Chiayi county, chickens in Tainan, and native chickens in Yunlin.

Covering more recent HPAI cases, Focus Taiwan, reports new outbreaks announced by the Council of Agriculture, which has blamed heavy rains in recent weeks for the spread of infections. Latest to be affected were flocks of 34,000 chickens and 1,787 turkeys in Tainan, and more than 2,400 ducks in Pingtung county. These bring the total number of farms with confirmed outbreaks so far this year to 148, and the cull to more than 1.43 million birds.

South Korea imports eggs from Thailand

According to news agency, Yonhap, the South Korean government has been grappling with a new wave of HPAI outbreaks in poultry since last month. To meet market demand and prevent further price rises that resulted from the cull of 33 million poultry last year, the agriculture ministry says the first of almost one million eggs to be imported from Thailand have arrived in the South Korean port of Busan.

South Korea’s veterinary authority has recently reported to the OIE that the H5N8 HPAI virus was detected in wild water birds at nine locations in the west of the country in January and February of this year.

One HPAI outbreak in Chinese poultry, more human cases

China’s agriculture ministry has reported to the OIE one new outbreak of HPAI in poultry caused by the H7N9 virus. More than half the birds of a flock of over 36,000 at a farm in Heilongjiang province died, and the rest have been destroyed.

As of June 24, the total number of confirmed human cases of influenza A(H7N9) reported globally increased to 1,548, according to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) in Hong Kong. Of these, 742 cases have been recorded in Mainland China since October 2016.

Over the last two weeks, the Chinese health authority has reported 15 new cases, including three deaths, according to the CHP. The majority of the cases are known to have had contact with poultry or visited poultry markets, and were reported in Beijing and nine other provinces or regions.

Africa: First outbreaks in South African chickens

While a low-pathogenic avian influenza virus has been circulating in the country’s commercial ostrich sector for some time, South Africa has reported its first outbreaks of HPAI in poultry.

According to reports from the agriculture ministry in Pretoria to the OIE, two farms have been affected so far, both in the province of Mpumalanga in the east of the country. The H5N8 virus was first detected in a flock of 24,000 broiler breeders, and subsequently in 243,000 commercial layers. At the time of reporting, the culling process was underway.

Europe: HPAI detected in poultry in Belgium

Having detected the H5N8 virus in birds one month ago in the latest wave of HPAI outbreaks, the disease has now spread to Belgian poultry. Two West Flanders farms trading birds for hobby farmers were affected, leading to the death of 500 birds and the destruction of a further 4,500. Source of infection is attributed to the introduction of new live birds and/or fomites.

According to the Focus Information Agency, transport of birds and eggs are forbidden within a three-kilometer radius of the infected premises. Across the country, live bird sales have been banned, and outdoor flocks must be kept housed or range areas must be covered by netting.

Belgium has also suffered five new outbreaks in birds other than poultry, according to the Federal Agency for Safety in the Food Chain in its reports to the OIE. Four of the outbreaks occurred in the province of Hainaut, and one in Namur. In total, 279 birds were lost through mortality or culling.

After an absence of two months, HPAI has returned to the wild bird population in Finland. A sick swan found in the south-west of the country has tested positive for an H5 HPAI virus.


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