Following the discovery of the first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the Dordogne region of southwest France recently, disease control measures were put in place. As a result of increased surveillance, the French agriculture ministry announced on November 30 that two more cases of the disease had been detected in the same region. More than 1 subtype of the virus has been identified, according to a statement on December 3.
H5N1 was confirmed at the first outbreak - the result of mutation of the low-pathogenic form of European origin into a highly pathogenic form - but H5N2 was detected at the second farm and testing from the third outbreak is still in progress.The second HPAI-positive farm had 1,338 ducks and geese; three goslings died and one of the samples taken from others in the flock tested positive for the H5N2 variant of the virus. An estimated 14,000 ducks and 1,000 geese have been culled at the farms affected in the second and third outbreaks.
Le Monde reports that the government has banned shipments of live birds and eggs from the department of Dordogne to other EU member states or third countries. More than one-third of French production of poultry meat (excluding offal and foie gras) is exported, mainly to the Middle East and the EU, according to Le Monde citing data from FranceAgriMer. Exports so far this year have reached 583,000 tons worth more than EUR1.1 billion (US$1.2 billion).
Veterinary authorities in Vietnam have reported further outbreaks of HPAI to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) involving two H5 variants of the virus. Over the past 2 weeks, H5N1 has been confirmed as the cause of 2 outbreaks in backyard flocks in the central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh, leading to the loss of 1,169 birds. Four outbreaks caused by the H5N6 subtype resulted in the death or destruction of 7,539 poultry in Nghe An and Quang Ngai in central Vietnam and in Lai Chau province in the far north, near to the border with China.
A highly pathogenic H5N6 virus was detected recently in a wild bird in Hong Kong that was found dead. Intensified surveillance did not bring to light further cases.
Over the last 2 weeks, Nigeria has reported to OIE one new outbreak of HPAI – at a farm in Lagos state in the south-west of the country bordering Benin. An estimated 2,000 pullets died or were destroyed after the H5N1 subtype of the virus was confirmed.
The same variant has hit 2 flocks in the Greater Accra region in southern Ghana since early October, affecting a mixed village poultry flock and a layer farm. In all, 3,837 birds died or were destroyed.
Taiwan has belatedly reported to OIE five outbreaks of avian flu affecting almost 95,000 chickens and native chickens in January of 2015. Samples sent to the Animal Health Research Institute have only recently been tested and found to be of the H5N2 variant of low pathogenicity, killing less than 75 percent of birds on which they were tested. In the meantime, the affected farms were depopulated, cleaned and disinfected, and subjected to intensive surveillance for a period of 3 months.