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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 15 Jan 2018


Advice for Powys Poultry farmers as Avian Flu arrives [Powys County Times, 18 Jan 2018]

by Elgan Hearn

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AVIAN FLU has returned to the UK and if it arrives in Powys it could decimate the poultry farms.

Powys poultry farmers are being warned to take steps to protect their birds from possible infection.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed on Friday, January 12 that Avian Influenza of the H5N6 strain has been detected in 17 wild birds, mainly swans, in Dorset.

Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low with the Food Standards Agency also offering reassurance that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Defra has confirmed that this is different to the strains which affected people in China last year.

Hafren Veterinary Group which has offices in Newtown, Llanidloes, Crossgates and Knighton are warning that poultry farmers need to be vigilant and make sure that chickens and turkeys are kept away from migratory wildfolw.

Ian Jones, owner of the Hafren Veterinary Group, said: “This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter.

“The UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Nigel Gibbens has stated that, although it does not represent a threat to public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

“There have been a number of cases of H5N6 virus in wild birds in Europe in recent months.”

“Powys, particularly Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, is one of the most densely populated poultry areas within the UK.

“There are a particularly large number of commercial free range laying farms in the area.

“The commercial farms tend to have very good biosecurity to keep birds away from other birds, and visitors and vehicles away to reduce the risk of avian influenza and its catastrophic consequences of the disease.

“It is very important that everyone who has poultry takes steps to reduce the risks to their poultry including those with just a few hens.

If someone with just a few hens had birds to go down with avian influenza government restrictions would immediately come into effect restricting movements of birds, feed and eggs.

“This could have a disastrous effect on all those commercial farms in the area.

“ Consequently anyone with poultry has a very great responsibility to reduce the risks of avian influenza in their birds both for their own birds but also for all other people and businesses with birds.”

Avian influenza usually causes very rapid death in chickens and turkeys, but waterfowl such as swans, ducks and geese can carry the disease without showing any signs of ill health.

Migratory waterfowl visit the UK, including Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, and these migratory birds are believed to be the source of new infections annually.

Mr Jones, continued: “It is very important those with chickens and turkeys keep them separate from wild birds especially ducks, geese and swans.

“Those with poultry should discourage waterfowl from contact with their domestic poultry by measures such as using fenced enclosures and not allowing wild birds access to poultry feed.”

For more information and guidance about biosecurity measures visit www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu


Philippines added to APHIS avian influenza list [Farm Futures, 17 Jan 2018]

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This action comes after HPAI was reported in the Philippines in August 2017.

USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) has added the Philippines to the list of regions affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) of any subtype.

This action comes after HPAI was reported in the Philippines in August 2017. In response to the outbreak, APHIS immediately placed restrictions on imported poultry and poultry products from that country to minimize the risk of introducing HPAI into the United States. This action is published in the Federal Register.

The H5N6 subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in the Philippines. – Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

The Philippines culled 200,000 chickens, quails and ducks after confirming the country’s first outbreak of avian influenza. – Reuters

The fourth highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in the Philippines since August began in November. It was reported in Neuva Ecija province. – Outbreak News Today


Century After Pandemic, Science Takes Its Best Shot at Flu [Voice of America, 17 Jan 2018]

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FILE - Biologist Rebecca Gillespie holds a vial of flu-fighting antibodies at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 19, 2017.

The descriptions are haunting.

Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins.

A century after one of history's most catastrophic disease outbreaks, scientists are rethinking how to guard against another super-flu like the 1918 influenza that killed tens of millions as it swept the globe.

There's no way to predict what strain of the shape-shifting flu virus could trigger another pandemic or, given modern medical tools, how bad it might be.

But researchers hope they're finally closing in on stronger flu shots, ways to boost much-needed protection against ordinary winter influenza and guard against future pandemics at the same time.

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In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital.

"We have to do better and by better, we mean a universal flu vaccine. A vaccine that is going to protect you against essentially all, or most, strains of flu," said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

Labs around the country are hunting for a super-shot that could eliminate the annual fall vaccination in favor of one every five years or 10 years, or maybe, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last for life.

Fauci is designating a universal flu vaccine a top priority for NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Last summer, he brought together more than 150 leading researchers to map a path. A few attempts are entering first-stage human safety testing.

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FILE - Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during an interview in his office at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 19, 2017.

Still, it's a tall order. Despite 100 years of science, the flu virus too often beats our best defenses because it constantly mutates.

Among the new strategies: Researchers are dissecting the cloak that disguises influenza as it sneaks past the immune system, and finding some rare targets that stay the same from strain to strain, year to year.

"We've made some serious inroads into understanding how we can better protect ourselves.

Now we have to put that into fruition," said well-known flu biologist Ian Wilson of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

The somber centennial highlights the need.

Back then, there was no flu vaccine. It wouldn't arrive for decades. Today vaccination is the best protection, and Fauci never skips his. But at best, the seasonal vaccine is 60 percent effective. Protection dropped to 19 percent a few years ago when the vaccine didn't match an evolving virus.

If a never-before-seen flu strain erupts, it takes months to brew a new vaccine. Doses arrived too late for the last, fortunately mild, pandemic in 2009.

Lacking a better option, Fauci said the nation is "chasing" animal flu strains that might become the next human threat. Today's top concern is a lethal bird flu that jumped from poultry to more than 1,500 people in China since 2013. Last year it mutated, meaning millions of just-in-case vaccine doses in a U.S. stockpile no longer match.

'Mother of all pandemics'

The NIH's Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger calls the 1918 flu the mother of all pandemics.

He should know.

While working as a pathologist for the military, he led the team that identified and reconstructed the extinct 1918 virus, using traces unearthed in autopsy samples from World War I soldiers and from a victim buried in the Alaskan permafrost.

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In this October 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps personnel wear masks as they hold stretchers next to ambulances in preparation for victims of the influenza epidemic.

That misnamed Spanish flu "made all the world a killing zone," wrote John M. Barry in The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.

Historians think it started in Kansas in early 1918. By winter 1919, the virus had infected one-third of the global population and killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans.

By comparison, the AIDS virus has claimed 35 million lives over four decades.

Three more flu pandemics have struck since, in 1957, 1968 and 2009, spreading widely but nowhere near as deadly. Taubenberger's research shows the family tree, each subsequent pandemic a result of flu viruses carried by birds or pigs mixing with 1918 flu genes.

"This 100-year timeline of information about how the virus adapted to us and how we adapt to the new viruses, it teaches us that we can't keep designing vaccines based on the past," said Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of NIH's Vaccine Research Center.

Two proteins

The new vaccine quest starts with two proteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, that coat flu's surface. The "H" allows flu to latch onto respiratory cells and infect them. Afterward, the "N" helps the virus spread.

They also form the names of influenza A viruses, the most dangerous flu family. With 18 hemagglutinin varieties and 11 types of neuraminidase — most carried by birds — there are lots of potential combinations. That virulent 1918 virus was the H1N1 subtype; milder H1N1 strains still circulate. This winter H3N2, a descendent of the 1968 pandemic, is causing most of the misery.

Think of hemagglutinin as a miniature broccoli stalk. Its flower-like head attracts the immune system, which produces infection-blocking antibodies if the top is similar enough to a previous infection or that year's vaccination.

But that head also is where mutations pile up.

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FILE - Biologist Jason Plyler prepares to test how immune cells react to possible flu vaccines at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Dec. 19, 2017.

A turning point toward better vaccines was a 2009 discovery that, sometimes, people make a small number of antibodies that instead target spots on the hemagglutinin stem that don't mutate. Even better, "these antibodies were much broader than anything we've seen," capable of blocking multiple subtypes of flu, said Scripps' Wilson.
Scientists are trying different tricks to spur production of those antibodies.

In a lab at NIH's Vaccine Research Center, "we think taking the head off will solve the problem," Graham said. His team brews vaccine from the stems and attaches them to ball-shaped nanoparticles easily spotted by the immune system.

In New York, pioneering flu microbiologist Peter Palese at Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine uses "chimeric" viruses — the hemagglutinin head comes from bird flu, the stem from common human flu viruses — to redirect the immune system.

"We have made the head so that the immune system really doesn't recognize it," Palese explained. GlaxoSmithKline and the Gates Foundation are funding initial safety tests.

In addition to working with Janssen Pharmaceuticals on a stem vaccine, Wilson's team also is exploring how to turn flu-fighting antibodies into an oral drug. "Say a pandemic came along and you didn't have time to make vaccine. You'd want something to block infection if possible," he said.

NIH's Taubenberger is taking a completely different approach. He's brewing a vaccine cocktail that combines particles of four different hemagglutinins that in turn trigger protection against other related strains.

Obstacles to research

Yet lingering mysteries hamper the research.

Scientists now think people respond differently to vaccination based on their flu history. "Perhaps we recognize best the first flu we ever see," said NIH immunologist Adrian McDermott.

The idea is that your immune system is imprinted with that first strain and may not respond as well to a vaccine against another.

"The vision of the field is that ultimately if you get the really good universal flu vaccine, it's going to work best when you give it to a child," Fauci said.
Still, no one knows the ultimate origin of that terrifying 1918 flu. But key to its lethality was bird-like hemagglutinin.

That Chinese H7N9 bird flu "worries me a lot," Taubenberger said. "For a virus like influenza that is a master at adapting and mutating and evolving to meet new circumstances, it's crucially important to understand how these processes occur in nature. How does an avian virus become adapted to a mammal?"

While scientists hunt those answers, "it's folly to predict" what a next pandemic might bring, Fauci said. "We just need to be prepared."


Highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in dead goshawk found in Tokyo [The Japan Times, 17 Jan 2018]

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About 92,000 chickens were culled last week at this poultry farm in Kagawa Prefecture. | KYODO

The Ministry of Environment said Wednesday that highly pathogenic H5N6 type of avian influenza virus was detected in a dead northern goshawk that had been found earlier this month at a park in Tokyo’s Ota Ward.

The ministry raised its warning to a Level 3 — its highest — from the current Level 2, as other bird flu cases were reported in the western part of the country over the past few months. If more dead wild birds are found, they will conduct more detailed examinations, the ministry said.

This winter, the highly pathogenic bird flu virus was found in birds in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, in November last year and at a poultry farm in Kagawa Prefecture earlier this month. Authorities in the prefecture culled about 92,000 chickens on Jan. 12, the day the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza was detected.


Bird flu in Karnataka: Chickens test positive for highly contagious H5N8 virus [Bhatkallys, 17 Jan 2018]

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Bengaluru: The World Organisation for Animal Health on Monday said that India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus in Karnataka, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

As per the report, the H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli near Bengaluru, killing 9 out of 951 birds. The others were culled, the Paris-based OIE said in a report posted on its website. However, no details have been furnished on the type of birds involved.

Earlier this month, the Karnataka health and family welfare department initiated awareness campaigns in the surrounding areas after some dead chickens tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

According to the World Health Organisation, human infection with the H5N8 virus cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low – based on the limited information obtained to date.

Generally, bird flu virus spreads to humans through contact with infected bird faeces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes. Therefore, health experts caution to avoid contact with infected birds to prevent getting the disease. In addition, it’s best to avoid eating or handling undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes during an outbreak of bird flu.


India reports bird flu outbreak [GlobalMeatNews.com, 17 Jan 2018]

By Oscar Rousseau

India has culled more than 900 birds after it reported a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the southwestern state of Karnataka.

An outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu strain H5N8, which ripped through Asia, Europe and the Middle East in the last 12 months, has been reported in India, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The Paris-based organisation said the outbreak was confirmed by a report it had received from Devendra Chaudhry, secretary for the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, a branch of India’s Ministry of Agriculture.

In total, 942 birds were culled. The report did not specify whether the avian animals were commercial poultry or wild birds.

A source of the outbreak remains inconclusive at this stage, according to the OIE.

Control measures have been set up by the Indian government: movement restrictions inside the country have been established; surveillance outside the contamination zone is underway; farms within the containment zone are being checked for traces of the bird flu strain; and officials are disposing of carcases, by-products and avian waste in Karnataka.

The outbreak is a reoccurrence of the H5N8 bird flu strain. India suffered multiple outbreaks of the strain in 2017 and 2016. And as the winter months approach, the number of bird flu outbreaks has begun to increase globally too.

Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh, has already reported four cases of the bird flu strain H5N8.

Iraq was forced to cull 43,000 chickens, following outbreaks of the same avian influenza strain.

And, last week, the Russian military was called in to Kostroma Oblast to deal with the aftermath of largest H5N8 bird flu outbreak in the region, which saw 600,000 chickens culled.


SAUDI ARABIA New bird flu cases detected in Riyadh [Saudi Gazette, 18 Jan 2018]

By Abdullah Al-Qarni

RIYADH — Four new bird flu cases were detected in the Riyadh region, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said on Tuesday.

It said the new cases were discovered in Riyadh city, Darmah, Al-Aflaj and Huraimala.

The ministry, in a press briefing, said since the outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu virus, it collected 3,304 samples from the various regions for lab tests.

It said its emergency central room received five reports about the disease, in addition to 28 inquires about the virus, which does not constitute any threat to the human life. All the cases have been properly dealt with, the ministry said.

The ministry said it would continue awareness campaigns against bird flu all over the Kingdom in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

Meanwhile, Al-Niairiyah branch municipality has razed the bird market in the area after evicting vendors from their stalls.

The head of the municipality, Muharib Mansour Al-Malaabi, said teams from the municipality demolished the market, which was close to the region's cattle market, as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus.

He said they dismantled about 80 stalls where birds were sold.

He asked the bird traders to stop their business until the bird flu the alert against the disease is over.


Islamic State member in custody dies with bird flu in Mosul hospital [Iraqi News, 16 Jan 2018]

by Nehal Mostafa

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bird flu (representational photo)

Mosul (IraqiNews.com) An Islamic State member held in custody has succumbed to death after being infected with bird flu in Mosul, a medical source from Nineveh province said on Tuesday.

“An IS militant died after being infected with bird flu,” the source told AlSumaria News, marking it as “the first case recorded in Mosul hospitals.”

The medical staff, according to the source, who preferred anonymity, “evacuated al-Shifaa hospital and vaccinated the patients at the hospital.”

Earlier on the day, medical sources were quoted saying that al-Salam Educational Hospital in eastern Mosul recorded three deaths with the disease, while the fourth case was recorded at al-Shifa Hospital in the western region of the city. Medical workers raised alert in the city, especially with drugs needed to counter the disease short of demand. He warned that the situation makes more deaths possible.

Last Thursday, Iraqi agriculture minister Falah Hassan declared that a poultry farm caught the infection in Babil province, days after another infection focus in Diyala province was brought under control.

Last Monday, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health confirmed the reporting about Diyala, saying that the infection killed 7250 out of 43000 birds.


Sources: Iraq records 4 bird flu deaths in Mosul city [Iraqi News, 16 Jan 2018]

by Mohamed Mostafa

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bird flu (representational photo)

Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Four people died with an apparent bird flu infection in the city of Mosul, medical sources were quoted saying on Tuesday after earlier reports this week told of the appearance of more cases at other areas of the country.

NRTTV quoted a medical source in the city saying that al-Salam Educational Hospital in eastern Mosul recorded three deaths with the disease, while the fourth case was recorded at al-Shifa Hospital in the western region of the city.

According to the source, medical workers raised alert in the city, especially with drugs needed to counter the disease short of demand. He warned that the situation makes more deaths possible.

Sot Aliraq said one of the deceased was an Islamic State member in custody.

Last Thursday, Iraqi agriculture minister Falah Hassan declared that a poultry farm caught the infection in Babil province, days after another infection focus in Diyala province was brought under control.

Last Monday, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health confirmed the reporting about Diyala, saying that the infection killed 7250 out of 43000 birds.


Jersey warned about UK outbreak of Avian Flu [ITV News, 16 Jan 2018]

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Credit: PA Images

Jersey's States Vet is warning poultry owners to be careful after an outbreak of bird flu in Dorset.

Advice have been issued after 17 wild waterfowl were found to be infected in Dorset last week.
It is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter.

Where possible contact between wild birds and domestic birds should be avoided; chickens, ducks, geese and swans should be kept indoors or in a netted area.

Theo Knight-Jones, the States Vet, says local keepers should follow the UK government's advice.

Members of the public are asked to report any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead birds (such as gulls or birds of prey) to the States Veterinary office at Howard Davis Farm.


Cambodia Issues Health Warning Over Bird Flu Outbreak in Phnom Penh [VOA Khmer, 16 Jan 2018]

by Malis Tum

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A Cambodian poultry transports chickens to the main market from Neak Loeung taxi station some 62 kilometers (38 miles) southeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Officials were quick to clarify that no humans had been found to have been infected by the H1N1 virus.

PHNOM PENH —
Health officials in Cambodia have urged calm after an outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, in poultry in Phnom Penh last week.

Hundreds of birds were taken in for testing by health officers in the capital’s Sen Sok district.

Officials were quick to clarify that no humans had been found to have been infected by the H1N1 virus.

Ly Sovann, a health ministry spokesman, said an outbreak was also discovered late last year in Kampong Thom province.

“Until now, we have not found any human who was infected. Out of 14 people who were tested, the results were all negative.”

He added that outbreaks such as this one were an annual occurrence.

“Buyers who buy poultry from farms, please don’t resell the sick ones because it is transferring the disease to many more places. Secondly, [the seller] himself can be infected with the virus and could die.”

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or "bird flu"). When people become infected, the mortality rate is about 60 percent. H5N1 has killed 454 people globally since 2003, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO reports, from 2003 until 2014 there were 56 cases of infected humans and 37 people have died. However, between 2015 and 2018, no humans were infected by the H5N1 virus.


New strain of bird flu in southern UK wild birds ‘not a surprise’ [Agrimoney.com, 16 Jan 2018]

by LaurenDean

UK chief vet Nigel Gibbens said the new strain of bird flu found which has reached wild birds in southern England was "not a surprise", with the H5N6 virus expected to move through migratory birds from Europe.

The avian influenza H5N6 strain was picked up in 17 wild birds in the southern UK county of Dorset on Friday, and farm ministry Defra said it expected to see more cases over the coming days.

It is the first time the particular strain has been found this winter, after previous backyard and commercial flocks were wiped out by a different H5N8 strain through spring and summer 2017.

The outbreak aligns with advice given from UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens who said the disease could return from migratory birds through the winter.

He declared the UK officially free from bird flu on September 13.

‘Highly infectious’

“This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds,” Mr Gibbens said.

“As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise.

"But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds – whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm – is vigilant for signs of disease, reports suspect disease to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.”

In response to the outbreak, the government has enforced a local prevention zone in targeted areas of south Dorset, covering every keeper with poultry or captive birds.

Under review

Mr Gibbens urged those in the prevention zone to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place, including feeding and watering birds indoors to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.

The government said there were no plans to carry out culls or enforce movement restrictions but the zone will be in place until further notice with regular reviews.

It confirmed trade would not be affected with regard to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) rules.


RSP takes precautionary measures to prevent avian influenza at IG Park [OdishaChannel, 16 Jan 2018]


Rourkela: In order to prevent the outbreak of avian influenza among animals and birds of Indira Gandhi Park, the Horticulture Department of Rourkela Steel Plant has been taking several precautionary measures in the IG Park Zoo.
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For disinfection in the public movement areas, 4% formaldehyde solution is being sprayed outside the animal enclosure areas.

A virucidal Virkon-S disinfectant is also being sprayed inside all animal enclosure, especially where avian species are displayed, since aquatic birds are very prone to be affected in influenza.

To prevent any infection by visitors, provision of foot bath with solution of potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is made at the entrance of the park. The solution is also kept at all enclosures which are used by caretakers of the zoo to prevent interspecies infection.

A close watch on the health of animals and birds is being maintained and recorded twice daily.

Fogging is also being undertaken in the park premises by Public Health Department intermittently to prevent air borne infections.

At present as many as 135 birds and animals belonging to 24 species are housed in the IG Park Zoo.


Bird flu back in India; cases reported from Karnataka [domain-B, 16 Jan 2018]


Bird flu, the highly contagious avian disease, is back in India, the Indian agriculture ministry has cautioned. The World Organisation for Animal Health said, an outbreak of the disease has been reported near Bengaluru in Karnataka, according to Reuters.

As per the report, the H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, which killed 9 out of 951 birds.

The Paris-based OIE said the other birds were culled, in a report posted on its website. But details of the type of birds involved, have not been furnished.

An outbreak of the H5N1 virus in India in 2006 had led to many cases of ill-health. Bird flu, also known as avian influenza or avian flu is a kind of influenza that is caused by viruses adapted to birds and is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird faeces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

According to health experts, preventing contact with infected birds and not consuming under cooked poultry food helps keep the disease away.

Meanwhile, the Bhopal-based National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases has confirmed the infection as the highly pathogenic avian influenza serotype H5N8, the Union agriculture ministry told the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday.

The report has identified 26 December as the starting date of the event and 30 December as the date of confirmation of the infection. According to the report the "case fatality rate" was 100 per cent, which shows the lethal nature of the virus, the report said.

According to the report, India's control measures include disposal of dead birds and disinfection of the affected zones, intensified surveillance outside the containment and protection zones, and controls on movement of poultry birds.

Scientists from the Bhopal laboratory who conducted genetic analysis of the H5N8 viruses isolated from affected birds in Delhi and Gwalior zoos suggest that winter birds migrating from China or Siberia might have brought the virus into India.


We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine before the Next Pandemic Strikes [Scientific American, 16 Jan 2018]

By Catharine I. Paules, Anthony S. Fauci

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Credit: Christina Ung

A century after the deadly pandemic of 1918, we're still not safe

This year the world will mark the 100th anniversary of one of the most devastating infectious disease events in recorded history: the 1918 influenza pandemic, which caused an estimated 50 million to 100 million deaths worldwide.

There were several reasons for the awful toll. First, most people likely had no preexisting immune protection to the brand-new strain that had emerged. Second, this particular virus may have been unusually lethal. Third, crowding and poor sanitation allowed for rampant disease transmission, especially in regions where access to health care was limited. And finally, antiviral drugs and flu vaccines were still decades in the future.

Over the past century we have made substantial advances in all these areas. But we are still unprepared for the inevitable appearance of a virus like the one that struck a century ago. Even an ordinary seasonal flu epidemic will still kill some 12,000 to 56,000 people every year in the U.S. alone. That is because seasonal viruses continually evolve, and although we update our vaccines frequently, they may be only 40 to 60 percent effective. Moreover, seasonal vaccines may provide little or no protection against pandemic flu. Pandemic viruses typically arise from a process referred to as an antigenic shift, in which the new virus acquires, usually from animal influenza viruses, one or more genes that are entirely novel (as seems to have happened in 1918, when all eight pandemic virus genes were novel).

In the years since 1918, three influenza pandemics associated with antigenic shifts occurred: in 1957, 1968 and 2009. In each of these instances, however, the new viruses emerged via the mixing of animal influenza virus genes with those of the 1918-descended viruses already circulating in the human population, which meant that many people were at least partially immune. That, plus lower viral pathogenicity and improvements in public health infrastructure and medical treatment, is what probably led to less catastrophic pandemics.

We must also tackle the issue of “prepandemic” influenza viruses—those that could potentially cause pandemics but that have not (yet) done so. Human infections with avian influenza viruses have occurred with increasing frequency over the past two decades. Prepandemic vaccines against various strains of H5N1 and H7N9 viruses have been developed and in some cases stockpiled; similar to seasonal influenza viruses, however, these avian strains are subject to antigenic drift within their avian hosts. Many of the H7N9 avian viruses that have jumped species from poultry to cause human infections in China in 2016 and 2017 have changed significantly from 2013 avian strains. As a result, the human immune responses elicited by a vaccine developed against the 2013 H7N9 virus may not be effective against 2017 strains.

The remarkable capacity of influenza viruses to undergo antigenic drift or shift to overcome and escape human population immunity leaves us vulnerable to a public health disaster potentially as serious as the 1918 pandemic. To meet this global health challenge, scientists are working to develop “universal influenza vaccines”—new types of inoculations that can provide protection not only against changing seasonal influenza viruses but also against the inevitable pandemic viruses that will emerge in the future.

Recently the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases convened a workshop with leading experts in the influenza field to address the need for better influenza vaccines. Among many obstacles to developing a universal vaccine, the most formidable is our incomplete understanding of the immune responses that protect people against influenza, including the role of immunity at mucosal surfaces.

One approach is to design a vaccine to generate antibody responses to parts of the virus that are common to all influenza strains and do not readily change by mutation. It is also crucial to clarify how other parts of the immune system work together with antibodies to protect against influenza. The hurdles in the development of such vaccines are daunting. But we are optimistic that we can apply existing tools and experimental strategies to meet the challenge. As we note the centennial of the 1918 flu pandemic, let us remind ourselves of the importance of this line of research in preventing a repeat of one of the most disastrous events in the history of global health.


Bird flu in Karnataka: Chickens test positive for highly contagious H5N8 virus [Times Now, 16 Jan 2018]

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Representational image | Photo Credit: Indiatimes

Bengaluru: The World Organisation for Animal Health on Monday said that India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus in Karnataka, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

As per the report, the H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli near Bengaluru, killing 9 out of 951 birds. The others were culled, the Paris-based OIE said in a report posted on its website. However, no details have been furnished on the type of birds involved. Read: 11 Maharashtra districts on alert for bird flu - Symptoms of H5N1 virus in humans; prevention tips

Earlier this month, the Karnataka health and family welfare department initiated awareness campaigns in the surrounding areas after some dead chickens tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

According to the World Health Organisation, human infection with the H5N8 virus cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low - based on the limited information obtained to date.

Generally, bird flu virus spreads to humans through contact with infected bird faeces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes. Therefore, health experts caution to avoid contact with infected birds to prevent getting the disease. In addition, it's best to avoid eating or handling undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes during an outbreak of bird flu.
(With Agency Inputs)


Warning to stay vigilant after bird flu outbreak at the Fleet near Abbotsbury Swannery [Dorset Echo, 16 Jan 2018]

by Martin Lea

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SITE: The Fleet and swannery at Abbotsbury

STAY vigilant – that’s the message amid a bird flu outbreak near Weymouth.

It comes after 17 wild birds found dead in the Fleet near Abbotsbury Swannery tested positive for avian flu.

It has led to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) setting up an avian influenza prevention zone.

The zone – which applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds, even if they are kept as pets in the back garden – covers Weymouth and Portland and its outskirts.

People with birds in this zone must follow strict biosecurity measures to prevent their birds becoming infected.

The wild birds which died in the Fleet have the H5N6 strain of bird flu – the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter. The disease has affected wild birds across Europe in recent months.

Speaking yesterday, a Defra spokesman said: “We may see further cases but there’s nothing as yet and we urge people to remain vigilant and report anything.

“The risk level remains at medium to wild birds and low to kept birds.”

The spokesman added: “At this time last year we had a number of cases around the country.

This time round it’s looking less dramatic at the present time.

“The virus will stay around until it gets warmer so the risk remains for a few months yet. We continue to monitor the situation.”

A spokesman for the Ilchester Estates, landowner of the Fleet Reserve – which includes Abbotsbury Swannery – said: “The wild birds which were found dead have tested positive for the H5N6 strain of avian flu.

“We have been assured by the relevant authorities that this strain of avian flu represents a very low threat to humans, and our staff are continuing their winter duties and monitoring the wildlife on the Fleet.

“We are working with Public Health England and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to deal with this situation.”

The outbreak has not affected the RSPB reserves in Weymouth which remain open to the public.

A RSPB spokesman said: “We remain vigilant and will pass any dead birds to Defra if we come across any.”

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Keepers should report suspicions of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.


Jersey follows advice in UK over avian flu [Jersey Evening Post, 16 Jan 2018]

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Theo Knight-Jones, Environment’s veterinary officer

POULTRY owners should monitor their birds for signs of illness following an outbreak of avian flu in the UK, the States Vet has said.

Bird flu was detected in 17 wild waterfowl at a site in Dorset last week, leading the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to place a prevention zone around the affected area, close to the village of Abbotsbury.

It is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been infecting wild birds across Europe in recent months. Defra says the outbreak does not pose a threat to food safety and Public Health England says the risk to human health is ‘very low’.

Nonetheless, Jersey is following Defra advice to bird owners and poultry farmers to minimise contact between domestic poultry and wild birds.

‘This is similar to last year – we know the virus can be spread by wild birds, so owners of poultry need to think about maintaining good biosecurity to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to their birds,’ Environment’s veterinary officer, Theo Knight-Jones, said.

‘Although this strain has not caused human disease, outbreaks in domestic poultry can cause high mortality among birds and result in wider economic impact through restrictions on poultry trade.

‘If you have any concerns about the health of your poultry, please get in touch with your vet,’ he added.

Members of the public are asked to report sightings of dead wild birds such as swans, geese, seagulls and birds of prey to the States veterinary office at Howard Davis Farm on 441600.

Information on how to reduce contact between domestic poultry and wild birds to minimise the risk of avian flu transmission can be found on the Defra pages of the UK government website, gov.uk.


India Reports Highly Pathogenic H5N8 Bird Flu In Karnataka [HuffPost India, 16 Jan 2018]

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Ducks stand in a livestock farm in Bars, southwestern France, on December 5, 2017.

India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus near Bengaluru in Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

The H5N8 virus was detected on Dec. 26 among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, killing 9 out of 951 birds. The others were culled, the Paris-based OIE said in a report posted on its website.

No details were given on the type of birds involved.


TAMIL NADU Poultry from Karnataka barred entry [The Hindu, 16 Jan 2018]


The Department of Animal Husbandry in the Nilgiris has banned poultry from Karnataka entering the district, amid fears of a bird flu outbreak in the State.

Officials from the department said that the ban on poultry entering the Nilgiris has been in place since last week, after reports emerged from Karnataka that there were a few cases of reported bird flu outbreak in Bengaluru and Mandya.
“We have passed instructions to all the checkposts in the Nilgiris ,” an official said.

The department is also spraying avian bird flu disinfectants on vehicles passing through the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border.


Bird Flu: Highly pathogenic H5N8 case outbreak near Bengaluru in Karnataka, says report [Financial Express, 16 Jan 2018]

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A report by Agriculture Ministry notes the return of Bird Flu

A report from the Indian agriculture ministry noted that according to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is an outbreak of the disease near Bengaluru in Karnataka.

Bird Flu returns: The highly contagious bird flu virus is reported to be back in India. A report from the Indian agriculture ministry noted that according to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is an outbreak of the disease near Bengaluru in Karnataka, according to Reuters.

As per the report, the H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, killing 9 out of 951 birds. The others were culled, the Paris-based OIE said in a report posted on its website. However, no details have been furnished on the type of birds involved.

Earlier, an outbreak of the H5N1 virus in India in 2006 led to many cases of ill-health. Bird flu, also known as avian influenza or avian flu is a kind of influenza that is caused by viruses adapted to birds. The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird faeces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

As per health experts, preventing contact with infected birds and undercooked poultry food helps in avoiding the disease.

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'SAUDI ARABIA 3 bird flu cases give ‘no cause for alarm’ in Saudi Arabia [Arab News, 16 Jan 2018]

by MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN

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The Health Ministry teams did a rapid risk assessment of H5N8. (SPA)

RIYADH: Three new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) have sprung up in Riyadh, Dammam and Al-Ahsa, but a senior official from the Health Ministry said on Monday there is no cause for alarm since this influenza has not affected anybody in the Kingdom or in other parts of the world.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Aseeri, assistant deputy minister of health for preventive medicine, told Arab News that the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) announced last month that the H5N8 strain of avian influenza was isolated from birds in a local market in Riyadh.

“This strain is highly pathogenic to birds (high death rates) and was first characterized in Ireland in 1983. Since then it has been reported in numerous locations around the world,” Al-Aseeri said.

He added that H5N8 avian influenza has not caused any human infections so far anywhere in the world.

The official said Saudi Arabia is a major route for bird migration and this virus probably got into the country through migratory birds.

According to the deputy minister, the MEWA field teams collected and tested more than 3,000 bird samples, dedicated a 24/7 call center for reporting and public education, performed extensive culling of infected birds in collaboration with the ministry of municipalities and banned commercial bird movements between cities.

The Health Ministry teams did a rapid risk assessment of H5N8. People in contact with sick birds were identified and listed for follow-up. Representative blood and repository samples were collected from people working at the affected sites. All human samples were negative for influenza.

The official said the ministry operates a national influenza surveillance program linked to the World Health Organization global influenza surveillance system.

“Human samples are continuously collected from sentinel sites and tested for various types of human influenza. Non-human influenza strains are suspected when the influenza virus is detected in a human sample but cannot be sub-typed. This has not happened in Saudi Arabia so far,” he stressed.


'Wiped' bird flu back [The Telegraph, 16 Jan 2018]

by G.S. Mudur

New Delhi: India is scrambling to stamp out an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus that popped up last month in poultry birds in Dasarahalli village near Bangalore, about six months after India declared itself free of this virus.

The Bhopal-based National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases has confirmed the infection as the highly pathogenic avian influenza serotype H5N8, the Union agriculture ministry told the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Monday.

The infection was detected after nine birds among 951 susceptible birds died. The other 942 were killed, according to the OIE report which has cited information provided by Devendra Chaudhry, the secretary for animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.

The report has noted December 26 as the start date of the event and December 30 as the date on which the infection was confirmed. The "case fatality rate" was 100 per cent, reflecting the lethal nature of the virus and, the report said. The source of the outbreak remains "unknown or inconclusive".

India's control measures include disposal of dead birds and disinfection of the affected zones, intensified surveillance outside the containment and protection zones, and controls on movement of poultry birds, the report said.



Work to contain bird flu finished at chicken farms [NHK WORLD, 15 Jan 2018]

Prefectural authorities in western Japan say they have finished taking steps to contain a bird flu outbreak.

Workers finished sterilizing equipment at 2 chicken farms in the city of Sanuki in Kagawa Prefecture on Sunday. They also treated the chicken feed with heat.

About 91,000 chickens were culled after the H5N6 type of bird flu virus was detected at one of the 2 farms on Thursday.

Authorities say nothing out of the ordinary has been found at 26 other farms within a 10-kilometer radius.

The prefecture has banned the movement of chickens and eggs within a 3-kilometer radius of the farms. Other farms within a 10-kilometer radius are also banned from shipping products outside the area.

80 Based on central government guidelines, if the virus has not spread, the prefecture plans to lift the shipment ban on Thursday of next week at the earliest. The restriction on moving chickens and eggs would be lifted on February 5th.


Traders eye demand hit as Japan joins Avian flu outbreak [AgriCensus, 15 Jan 2018]

by Tim Worledge

Demand for animal feeds is said to be untroubled as yet, but market participants are watching the development of Avian flu in the region, as the first outbreak of 2018 was confirmed in Japan over the weekend.

According to the UN's World Animal Health Information System, some 91,000 birds were slaughtered in Kagawa Prefecture, southwest of Osaka, in a bid to stem the outbreak.

Japan joins China, Taiwan, the Philippines, North Korea and South Korea in battling ongoing outbreaks in the region.

South Korea has slaughtered just under 300,000 poultry since the current outbreak was confirmed on November 19 2017, according to data from WAHIS, with the latest outbreak identified on January 10.

While outbreaks of diseases that affect animal stock can have a knock on effect for demand for feed, market sources are monitoring the outbreak but are as yet unworried about its potentially negative impact.

"It's nothing major for now," one Singapore-based trader said, noting that it was not uncommon for Korea and Japan to see outbreaks of Avian flu at this time of the year.

Major South Korean feed buyers have ventured back into the market recently, with MFG and Kocopia buying some 200,000 mt of corn for delivery in April over the last 10 days, seemingly shrugging off the fears of some traders who had speculated that they may abandon efforts to buy or take smaller volumes.

Avian flu outbreaks are being actively battled across large parts of South Africa, the Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia, while a number of European countries including the United Kingdom and Germany have reported infected birds in the wild population.

Corn competes with other grains and co-products as a feed to animals, with corn's competitiveness relative to other feeds key in drawing demand to the market in recent weeks.

"Corn was really cheap versus the prices of feed wheat and low quality milling wheat," one market source said, with that dynamic providing a supportive factor for corn prices through recent weeks.


Another case of bird flu suspected at farm near Seoul [Yonhap News, 15 Jan 2018]

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A quarantine official disinfects an ambulance in the vicinity of a layer chicken farm in the city of Pocheon, northeast of Seoul, on Jan. 4, 2018, where the quarantine authorities confirmed an outbreak of an avian influenza virus. (Yonhap)

GIMPO, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- A new case of suspected bird flu has been detected at a chicken farm near Seoul, the agriculture ministry said Monday, amid a widespread outbreak of the avian influenza in the country's southwestern duck farming region.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said suspected avian influenza (AI) was reported at a farm in Gimpo (金浦市), west of Seoul. The farm, which has 500 chickens, said 10 of them died the previous day.

It will take one or two days to confirm if the case is a highly pathogenic strain of the bird flu virus.

If confirmed, it would be the second virulent AI case in the Gyeonggi Province (京畿道)surrounding the capital city.

The government has imposed a 24-hour standstill order on poultry, equipment and livestock breeders in Gyeonggi and Incheon, ending Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Since the first outbreak of highly pathogenic AI in November, South Korea has confirmed 11 bird flu cases and culled 1.46 million ducks and chickens. Except for one confirmed case in Gyeonggi Province, all other outbreaks have been confined to Jeolla Province, a major duck farming region.


Bird flu found in Phnom Penh [Khmer Times, 15 Jan 2018]

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Nearly 300 birds have been culled since the outbreak was detected. KT/Mai Vireak

Nearly 300 chickens and ducks were culled after a new case of H5N1, or bird flu, was found in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district last week, officials said.

Seang Borin, director of the municipal agriculture department, said yesterday that 292 chickens and ducks were killed in Phnom Penh Thmey village on Saturday, where the National Institute of Animal Health and Production found an outbreak that had infected three chickens on January 9.

Mr Borin said government officials from multiple departments shut down the movement of any birds from the area for the foreseeable future.

“Health officials will check and follow up on the villagers’ health. My department will also keep following up around the area. Right now, we have cut off an area of three kilometres from exporting birds,” said Mr Borin.

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Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said authorities must ensure there is no sale or movement of poultry from the cordoned off area.

“On January 9, the results of tests on samples of chickens found the H5N1 virus in three chickens in Phnom Penh Thmey commune, so the joint committee and all levels of local authorities have to cooperate to take action to prevent the movement of birds from a three kilometre area,” said Mr Sakhon.

Mr Borin added that consumers should not buy meat originating from the area and also make sure any chickens they bought live were not sick, adding that vendors should notify authorities of any illnesses.

“If their chickens or ducks are sick, they must report it to officials immediately and not touch the sick birds,” he said, noting further tests would continue to be carried out before the movement ban was lifted.

In late December, H5N1 spread to Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district following an outbreak in Kampong Cham province, but it did not infect any villagers.

Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said officials intervened in time in the Phnom Penh outbreak to ensure no villagers contracted the virus.

“This is the fourth location for an outbreak of H5N1, with the others being two in Kampong Cham province and one location in Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district,” he said.

According to a report from the communicable disease control department, between 2005 and 2014, 56 people were infected by the disease, leading to 37 deaths.


OFFBEAT Turkish town shutdown after bird flu outbreak [Arab News, 15 Jan 2018]

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Officials killed at least 609 birds after locals reported that the animals were dying. (Shutterstock)

A town has been quarantined in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin after authorities detected two birds carrying the influenza virus.

Officials killed at least 609 birds, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet, after locals reported that the animals were dying.

Test results later showed that the birds had bird flu, prompting the decision to send specialists to Buyuk Bogazye that borders Syria to kill the birds.

The city health teams buried the birds in a pit after they were destroyed, and quarantined the town, Dogan News Agency reported.


New strain of bird flu in south Dorset wild birds ‘not a surprise’ [FG Insight, 15 Jan 2018]

by Lauren Dean

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17 wild birds were found with the H5N6 strain on Friday January 12.

The avian influenza H5N6 strain was picked up in 17 wild birds in south Dorset on Friday (January 12) and Defra said it expected to see more over the coming days.

It is the first time the particular strain has been found during the winter of 2017/18 after previous backyard and commercial flocks were wiped out by a different H5N8 strain through spring and summer last year.

The outbreak aligns with advice given from UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens who said the disease could return from migratory birds through the winter.

He declared the UK officially free from bird flu on September 13.

“This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is high infectious and deadly to birds,” Mr Gibbens said.

“As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise.

“But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds – whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm – is vigilant for signs of disease, reports suspect disease to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.”

In response to the outbreak, the government has enforced a local Prevention Zone in targeted areas of south Dorset, covering every keeper with poultry or captive birds.

Under review

Mr Gibbens urged those in the Prevention Zone to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place, including feeding and watering birds indoors to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.

The government said there were no plans to carry out culls or enforce movement restrictions but the zone will be in place until further notice with regular reviews.

It confirmed trade would not be affected with regard to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) rules.

Helpline
Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.


Bird flu detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, with more expected [East Anglian Daily Times, 15 Jan 2018]

by Sarah Chambers

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Bird flu has been detected in 17 birds in Dorset. Picture; DEFRA

Bird flu has been detected in wild birds in Dorset, with more expected over the coming days.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the H5N6 strain had been found in 17 wild birds, making it the first confirmed in the UK this winter.

It is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months, tests confirm.

This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year, DEFRA said, and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said while the disease did not pose a threat to the public, it was “highly infectious and deadly to birds”.

“As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise,” he said.

“But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.”

While there is no legislative requirement to put restrictions in place when this strain of virus is found in wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed local measures will be introduced to help manage the potential threat.

A local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ is set to be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found, meaning captive bird keepers will have to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place such as feeding and watering birds indoors to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.

There are no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions in place.
DEFRA said the risk to domestic poultry nationally remains low, but good biosecurity was essential and bird keepers across the country are reminded to follow our biosecurity advice which includes specific advice for keepers of backyard flocks.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.


India reports outbreak of bird flu virus near Bengaluru [Livemint, 15 Jan 2018]

by Sybille de La Hamaide

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India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus near Bengaluru in Karnataka. Representational photo: AFP

Paris: India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus near Bengaluru in Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health said on Monday, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

The H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, killing 9 out of 951 birds. The others were culled, the Paris-based OIE said in a report posted on its website.

No details were given on the type of birds involved. Reuters


EXPERTS CALL FOR GOVT INTERVENTION TO PREVENT BIRD FLU OUTBREAK IN WC [Eyewitness News, 15 Jan 2018]

by Graig-Lee Smith

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Bird flu has affected business at The Duck Farm in the Joostenbergvlakte. Picture: theduckfarm.co.za

Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde has confirmed that no new bird flu cases have been reported since the outbreak in October.

JOHANNESBURG - Some experts are warning that another avian flu outbreak is imminent come winter if government doesn’t urgently intervene.
Last year, farms across the Western Cape had to cull their chickens due to the devastating highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde has confirmed that no new bird flu cases have been reported since the outbreak in October.

The Klapmuts Bird Clinic’s Doctor Deon de Beer, however, warns that if government doesn’t intervene - farmers may experience yet another outbreak when the weather gets cold.

"Unfortunately we cannot win a biological battle if government stops working at 4, and start working again on Monday at 8 or 9. Unfortunately, disease control doesn’t work like that, so the government is definitely not doing enough."

A duck farm in Joostenbergvlakte was one of the hardest hit farms in the province.

Around 24,000 birds had to be culled, resulting in almost one hundred job losses.

Last week, poultry farms were officially declared free of any new infections.


BIRD KEEPERS ENCOURAGED TO INCREASE BIOSECURITY FOLLOWING BIRD FLU OUTBREAK [Island Echo, 15 Jan 2018]

By Island Echo

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Keepers of birds across the Isle of Wight are being encouraged to apply extra biosecurity following a confirmed outbreak of Bird Flu in Dorset.

On Friday (12th January) DEFRA confirmed the finding of Avian Influenza H5N6 in 17 wild birds in South Dorset – the first time Bird Flu has been found this winter.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been established in Weymouth and Portland which means strict, legal requirements have been put in place. Although there are no legal requirements to increase biosecurity here on the Isle of Wight, the government is encouraging keepers of poultry or captive birds – whether commercial or not – to do so.

The North and West sides of the Island are said to be high risk areas for Bird Flu.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said:

“This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds. “As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds – whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm – is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.

What to do if you keep poultry and captive birds

If you keep poultry – whether that’s a few birds in your garden or a large commercial flock – you should take steps now to review your biosecurity; register your birds with APHA; report any sick birds and sign up for disease alerts.

Review your biosecurity

Bird flu is spread by direct contact between birds and through contamination in the environment, for example in bird droppings. This means wild birds carrying the disease can infect domestic poultry, so the best way to reduce the risk of your poultry catching bird flu is to minimise chances for them to come into contact with wild birds or their droppings by practising good biosecurity.

You should review your biosecurity measures now, as the risk level may increase in the coming weeks. This means reading government guidance on good biosecurity and taking action to:

• minimise movement in and out of your bird enclosure
• clean footwear before and after visiting your birds
• keep bird enclosures clean and tidy and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces
• humanely control rats and mice
• place birds’ food and water in fully-enclosed areas that wild birds cannot access, and remove any spilled feed
• keep your birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access
• make sure equipment, feed and bedding are stored undercover so they cannot be contaminated by wild birds
• where possible keep chickens and turkeys separate from ducks and geese

Register your birds

All keepers are encouraged to register their birds with Defra so that they can contact you quickly if there is a disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action. If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises. Find out how to register your birds.

Report signs of disease

If you suspect disease in your own flock, or you find dead wild birds such as wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey, you must let Defra know. Call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Sign up for disease alerts

By signing up to the free disease alert system you will get text alerts and emails informing you of the latest news about bird flu and Newcastle disease outbreaks in Great Britain.


First avian flu winter outbreak confirmed [vet times, 15 Jan 2018]

by David Woodmansey

Tests show the pathogen, which poses low risk to public health and the food chain, is closely related to the H5N6 strain circulating in wild birds across Europe in the past few months.

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Vets and poultry owners are urged to remain vigilant following the discovery of pathogenic H5N6 bird flu.

Veterinary authorities are urging vets and poultry owners to remain vigilant following the discovery of highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu in 17 wild birds in Dorset.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “I’d encourage vets to reassure their clients this strain of avian influenza poses a very low risk to public health and the food chain.

“Defra has acted swiftly to try to contain further spread of the disease, which has likely come from migratory birds, yet vets and poultry owners should remain vigilant for signs of the disease.”

‘Head biosecurity advice’

British Veterinary Poultry Association president Phil Hammond added: “It’s really important all bird keepers heed biosecurity advice issued by Defra and maintain the highest biosecurity standards. Any suspicion of avian influenza should be reported to the APHA as soon as possible.”

The Dorset case is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter, and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months. This is different to the strain that affected people in China last year and Public Health England has advised the risk to public health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has also offered reassurance avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Prevention zone

A local “avian influenza prevention zone” has been declared in the area of south Dorset, where the diseased birds were found. This means it will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers in the zone to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place. Further information can be found on GOV.UK

The zone will be in place until further notice and kept under regular review as part of work to monitor the threat of avian flu.

Up-to-date advice and guidance on avian influenza is available on GOV.UK, including how to spot it, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent it. Alternatively, telephone the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.


BVA and BVP respond to confirmation of Avian Influenza in wild birds in Dorset [www.thepoultrysite.com, 15 Jan 2018]

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on 12 January confirmed that Avian Influenza of the H5N6 strain has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset.

Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low with the Food Standards Agency also offering reassurance that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Defra has confirmed that this is different to the strains which affected people in China last year.

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and the UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Nigel Gibbens has stated that, although it does not represent a threat to public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds. There have been a number of cases of H5N6 virus in wild birds in Europe in recent months.

Local measures will be put in place to manage the potential threat. These include a local Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) in Dorset as a precautionary measure to prevent disease spread to other birds. This means all captive bird keepers in the area will have to implement enhanced biosecurity measures such as feeding and watering birds undercover so that wild birds do not co-mingle with kept birds; minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures; cleaning and disinfecting footwear; and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.

There are no plans for culling or movement restrictions.

British Veterinary Association (BVA) President John Fishwick responded:

“I’d encourage vets to reassure their clients that this strain of Avian Influenza poses a very low risk to public health and the food chain. Defra have acted swiftly to try and contain further spread of the disease, which has likely come from migratory birds, yet vets and poultry owners should remain vigilant for signs of the disease.”


British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) President Phil Hammond added:

“It’s really important that all bird keepers heed biosecurity advice issued by Defra, and maintain the highest biosecurity standards. Any suspicion of Avian Influenza should be reported to the APHA as soon as possible.”

Up-to-date advice and guidance on Avian Influenza is available on the Gov.UK website, including how to spot it, what to do if you suspect it, and measures to prevent it:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#about-avian-influenza


Telangana preps to avert bird flu amid scare in Karnataka [The New Indian Express, 15 Jan 2018]

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HYDERABAD: After the avian flu scare in Karnataka, precautionary steps to avert its incidence in Telangana are being taken and stepped by the state animal husbandry department. Officials have appealed to poultry farm owners to take bio-security measures on the farms, and asked the department staff to collect blood and serum samples of birds from all farms for tests.

In Telangana, the last time avian flu was detected was at Hayathnagar in April 2015. “There have been no positive cases ever since. There is no need to worry. As precautionary step, we asked our staff a week ago to again collect blood and serum samples of poultry birds from all farms.

These measures are taken around the year,” said Dr Ramchander, additional director of animal husbandry.

In Karnataka the flu scare proved to be a false alarm and that state’s animal husbandry minister A Manju said that samples sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal tested negative for any form of bird flu that is lethal to humans and that the birds were safe for human consumption.

An official of Telangana animal husbandry department said that though there had been no unusual deaths of poultry birds, they appealed to farm owners, as a precautionary measure, to take bio-safety measures such as ensuring that workers change clothes and wash their feet in disinfectant water before entering a farm. According to the officials, there are 960 rapid response teams which visit poultry farms across TS. Each mandal has two or three such teams.

Vehicles carrying poultry feed are considered to be effective carriers of flu as a vehicle goes from one farm to another. “Farm owners take good bio-security measures. For instance, all vehicles, including a bicycle, entering a farm have to go through a pit filled with disinfectant liquid and cases which have feed are fumigated,” Dr Ramchander said.

The official said the Union government gave instructions for collection of samples regularly and sending it for tests. The blood and serum samples are sent to the Southern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Bengaluru. In case a sample tests positive, it is again sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal for confirmation.


Bird flu found in Phnom Penh [Khmer Times, 15 Jan 2018]

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Nearly 300 birds have been culled since the outbreak was detected. KT/Mai Vireak

Nearly 300 chickens and ducks were culled after a new case of H5N1, or bird flu, was found in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district last week, officials said.

Seang Borin, director of the municipal agriculture department, said yesterday that 292 chickens and ducks were killed in Phnom Penh Thmey village on Saturday, where the National Institute of Animal Health and Production found an outbreak that had infected three chickens on January 9.

Mr Borin said government officials from multiple departments shut down the movement of any birds from the area for the foreseeable future.

“Health officials will check and follow up on the villagers’ health. My department will also keep following up around the area. Right now, we have cut off an area of three kilometres from exporting birds,” said Mr Borin.

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Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said authorities must ensure there is no sale or movement of poultry from the cordoned off area.

“On January 9, the results of tests on samples of chickens found the H5N1 virus in three chickens in Phnom Penh Thmey commune, so the joint committee and all levels of local authorities have to cooperate to take action to prevent the movement of birds from a three kilometre area,” said Mr Sakhon.

Mr Borin added that consumers should not buy meat originating from the area and also make sure any chickens they bought live were not sick, adding that vendors should notify authorities of any illnesses.

“If their chickens or ducks are sick, they must report it to officials immediately and not touch the sick birds,” he said, noting further tests would continue to be carried out before the movement ban was lifted.

In late December, H5N1 spread to Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district following an outbreak in Kampong Cham province, but it did not infect any villagers.

Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said officials intervened in time in the Phnom Penh outbreak to ensure no villagers contracted the virus.

“This is the fourth location for an outbreak of H5N1, with the others being two in Kampong Cham province and one location in Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district,” he said.

According to a report from the communicable disease control department, between 2005 and 2014, 56 people were infected by the disease, leading to 37 deaths.
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Zoonotic canine flu from 1 Jan 2018


Pet owners warned of uptick in dog flu cases [Metro US, 15 Jan 2018]

By
Nikki M. Mascali

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As many states are experiencing a very active flu season right now, another form of influenza is also making its rounds across the country, but this one is targeting your four-legged friends.

Like human flu, dog flu is highly contagious — and can be deadly in some cases. As of last week, veterinarians in at least 46 states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida and California, have treated dogs that were infected with the virus, Fox News initially reported.

“Canine influenza is very similar to the human form in that it is self-limiting and not life-threatening,” said Dr. Robin Brennen, senior medical director at Animal Care Centers of New York City. “Influenza can be fatal, but mortality is less than 5 percent.”

Dog flu symptoms to watch out for

The symptoms of dog flu are often akin to those related to "kennel cough": coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal and eye discharge, a decrease in appetite and general mood changes, but some of the milder symptoms can turn into pneumonia, Brennen said.

“Prolonged coughing fits, difficulty breathing, lethargy and inappetence should be more causes for concern,” she added. “Suspicions should be raised if a large population of dogs gets sick at the same time, as influenza has about an 80 percent infection rate. This is because it is a relatively new disease, and natural immunity has not occurred."

There are two strains of dog flu, H2N8 and H3N2. The former was first found in racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004, and the strain is believed to have come from a horse flu strain, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

The latter strain was first identified in the U.S. in 2015 after respiratory illness was detected in Chicago. It likely stemmed from a direct transfer from avian flu in Asia, where it was first discovered in dogs nearly 10 years before, the AVMF said.

“Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing,” the AVMA said.

It can be spread via kennels, shelters, dog parks, doggie daycares, dog shows, food and water bowls and collars and leashes. While it cannot be transmitted to humans, dog flu can be transmitted from them — and remain viable, or live and infectious, on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothes for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours.

If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms of canine influenza or is just not acting like their usual self, seek veterinary care.

How to treat dog flu

Just like with people, dog flu treatment is often supportive, Brennen said, and “you want to treat the symptoms the dog has and maintain hydration and nutrition.”

There is a two-dose vaccine that will treat both H3N8 and H3N2 strains, but “immunity is not at its peak until two-plus weeks after the second booster,” Brennen said.

While it can reduce your pup’s risk of contracting dog flu and reduce its severity and duration, vaccination may not prevent infection altogether, she warned.

As in their human counterparts, dogs who get the flu vaccination may experience pain at the injection site, facial swelling, mild fever or an allergic reaction.

My dog has canine influenza. Now what?

According to the AVMA, infected dogs should be isolated for at least four weeks, preferably in “an area with a separate air supply,” and treatment should be designated by your vet. The dog flu virus seems to be easily killed by common disinfectants found in homes and most pet facilities, the organization added.

Anyone who comes in contact with a dog infected with canine influenza should frequently wash their hands, especially before and after handling or cleaning, and if able, protective attire should be worn to prevent the virus from spreading to clothes.


WHAT IS DOG FLU? CONTAGIOUS DISEASE SPREADS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES [Newsweek, 13 Jan 2018]

BY MELINA DELKIC

Is your pup sneezing, coughing or not acting like himself?

He may have dog flu. Cases of canine influenza have been popping up around the country, including states like Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania and now Canada?and it’s highly contagious among dogs.

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Is your pooch sneezing, coughing or not acting like himself?

“They were first recognized in greyhounds around 2003, and they’ve since been diagnosed in over 36 states,” Dr. Kyle Frandle, a veterinarian at Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital, told Mercury News in California. “Experts feel dog flu is now endemic in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and now here in California. There’s some controversy over where it originates from; some experts think it came from horse influenza and some think from avian influenza.”

Canine influenza can’t infect humans, but it can be dangerous for dogs and might even lead to death, with a mortality rate of 10 percent, if not treated, according to the American Veterinary

Medical Association. Some vets, however, are calling the panic unwarranted. After Fox News published an initial report of the disease spreading in 46 states, one Washington doctor refuted that claim, writing in a blog post said it wasn’t time to panic yet.

“There has been no serious increase in flu cases on the west coast, and no confirmed cases reported in Washington for over 2-years,” Dr. Mark Kummer, who works at Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital, wrote.

Still, several states are seeing an increase in cases. One pet hospital near San Francisco, United Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital, saw over 50 cases in two weeks, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The disease is transmitted "through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places such as kennels, groomers, day care facilities and shelters are at increased risk of infection.”

If you notice symptoms in your dog, like coughing, sneezing, fever, decreased appetite and nasal discharge, you should take them to the vet to get tested. The symptoms could mean a different illness, and so a test is the only way to know for sure.



VERIFY - Can You Give Your Dog the Flu? [W*USA 9, 12 Jan 2018]

by David Beardsley

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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) - OK, let's talk flu.

You've probably heard that it's hitting pretty hard this season.

And a lot of animal lovers are asking: Can I give my sweet little boo the flu?

Our mission at the Verify desk is to clear up confusion and get you the facts.

So let's go.

First up -- yes -- Fido CAN GET the flu.

Symptoms are pretty much what you see in people -- coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes.

The good news is, there's a flu vaccine for dogs.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. But vets tell us -- it can't hurt.

As for passing the flu to your little ba-boo?

We contacted local animal hospitals, including Friendship Hospital for Animals in DC and Arlington Animal Hospital. And they all agreed -- you can rest easy.

Doctor Tony Malone of the Houston Humane Society sums it up nicely. He says, "The dog flu and the people flu are not related. It's not zoonotic, meaning dogs can't pass the flu to their owners and owners can't pass their flu to their dogs."

So we can Verify: You won't give the flu to Fido.

Or vice versa.

Can't happen.

What does darling little Dorothy need is she GETS the flu?

Same thing as you.

Plenty of rest.

And a tummy rub couldn't hurt.

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The illness has even been spotted in Canada, where two dogs in southwestern Ontario had tested positive, the Toronto Sun reported on Tuesday.


Vets, pet owners alarmed by spread of 'dog flu' in South Bay [SFGate, 12 Jan 2018]

By Michelle Robertson

It's a nasty Bay Area flu season for humans and four-legged companions alike this year.
Veterinary hospitals and kennels throughout the South Bay have reported multiple cases of canine influenza, also known as the dog flu.

"Over the past two weeks, we've seen maybe 50 cases," said Shadi Ireifej, a veterinarian at United Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Campbell. Four of these cases have been confirmed via blood test (many owners opt out of the test due to cost).

Willow Glen Pet Hospital also confirmed it had treated 12 cases of the flu since Jan. 3. San Jose pet boarder We Dog Care told SFGATE that it would be closed through the week "to ensure every surface in the facility has been disinfected while no dogs are present."

The pups started coming into Ireifej's emergency room with symptoms similar to those found in flu-stricken humans: a hacking cough, nasal discharge, lethargy, sneezing and fever. The facility has yet to see any deaths.

"The mortality rate is pretty low," Ireifej said of the illness, the symptoms of which typically persist for three to four weeks. During that time, vets recommend dogs be kept under quarantine, away from dog parks and kennels.

Veterinarians believe that this flu is caused by two strains, H3N2 and H3N8. The latter strain was first identified in 2004 in Florida racing greyhounds, said Stefanie Wong of the Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center. H3N2 showed up in Chicago and the surrounding Midwest region in 2015.


VIDEO: Outbreak of dog flu in South Bay [KRON4.com, 10 Jan 2018]

SAN JOSE (KRON) ? A version of the flu is affecting dogs in the South Bay, as doctors are reporting an outbreak of the canine flu.

The flu is highly contagious and doctors say that most dogs that come into contact with an infected dog will get it. The good news is most dogs will recover, but there are steps you can take to protect your dog.

Eleven-year-old Izzy, a Boxer mix, is currently in isolation and on IVs at a Campbell vet hospital after coming down with canine influenza also known as the dog flu.

“Dog flu causes coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, not eating?highly contagious,” Emergency Veterinarian Dr. Stephanie LaPlume said.

Dr. LaPlume says in her 10 years in the South Bay, she has never before seen an outbreak of dog flu. Doctors believe Izzy got it from an infected dog at a South Bay daycare facility.

Now, in just the last two weeks, doctors at United Veterinary Specialty & Emergency have seen three confirmed cases and nearly 50 others that are suspected of having dog flu in the greater San Jose
area.

“I am very concerned because now will not be able to get rid of it, will always be here in Bay Area,” Dr. LaPlume said. “It will die down as more get vaccine but large numbers of cases before that happens.”

LaPlume believes it will spread across the Bay Area, which is why she recommends dogs that interact with other dogs either at the groomer, in dog parks, or daycare should get the vaccine.

“Dog flu vaccine decreases severity and chances of getting it but doesn’t eliminate altogether,” LaPlume said.

Some other key facts: dog flu is primarily spread from dog to dog, but a human that has been in contact with an infected dog can spread it to another dog.

Most dogs who get dog flu don’t have to be hospitalized and recover in two or three weeks.
Finally, humans cannot get dog flu.


First Known Cases of Dog Flu Found in Canada [The Weather Channel, 10 Jan 2018]

Health officials say two dogs in southwestern Ontario have tested positive for a strain of canine influenza in what they are calling the virus’s first known incursion into Canada.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says the dogs were brought to Canada from South Korea through the United States late last month and were showing signs of respiratory disease during a veterinary exam the next day.

The agency says a small number of dogs that came into close contact with the pair also have mild respiratory disease but test results for those animals are not yet available.

It says the H3N2 canine influenza virus is highly transmissible between dogs and has become widespread in parts of Asia and caused outbreaks in some U.S. locations, particularly in shelters.

The health unit says most dogs who develop the disease don’t get seriously ill, but those who show symptoms should be kept away from other dogs for at least two weeks to limit spreading.

Health officials say there is no known human risk from the virus, but note the risk that it might mix with human seasonal influenza viruses is “a potential concern.



Infectious dog flu suspected in Grimsby [Niagarathisweek.com, 9 Jan 2018]

Canine Influenza A Flu can be fatal if dogs not treated

GRIMSBY — The Grimsby veterinary community is expressing concern after treating dogs they suspect were infected with a highly infectious dog flu.

Dr. Michelle Cline of Grimsby Animal Hospital says a number of dogs have been showing symptoms of canine flu since mid-December, though the infection has not been officially confirmed. Cline and Kevin Strooband of the Lincoln County Humane Society, the animal services provider for Grimsby, have been raising awareness about the possible presence of Canine Influenza A, fearing if it goes undetected or untreated, it can lead to deaths.

“We don’t want to cause any panic — these are suspected cases, but we are pretty certain that’s what we’re seeing,” said Cline. “It’s a much more severe flu than the common one we’re used to seeing here. It’s not contagious to people.”

This is the first time Cline and Strooband, who both have decades of experience in their careers, have seen any evidence of the infection in the area. While the flu was first identified in Florida in 2004, it has been making its way north, said Cline, getting tracked to Chicago in 2015.

“We’ve been on the lookout, tracking it as it came north, but we have not seen any cases,” said Cline.

This week the first two cases of canine influenza to be confirmed in Canada were identified by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

While there is no human risk, the flu is easily transmitted from dog to dog through saliva.

Several of the suspected cases, said Cline, were reported after dogs interacting in Grimsby dog parks.

“It seems to be a common factor — the dogs are playing with a lot of other dogs, mouthing each other around their neck and face. It’s highly contagious and contractable through the saliva and bodily fluids,” explained Cline. “The best way to prevent your dog from getting this, is limit and prevent exposure to playing with dogs that you are not sure are healthy.”

Strooband stresses while the cases seem to have common links to the dog park the flu does not live in the environment.

“It’s very easy to transmit in a dog-park setting, but it takes that contact and interaction,” said Strooband. “Dog owners need to be vigilant and diligent.”

Distinguishing the canine flu can be difficult, said Cline, as there are some similar symptoms to the much more common kennel cough respiratory infection. It causes much worse complications, however.

“This one produces a fever, they are feeling unwell and will begin coughing, sneezing, have a runny nose and start to feel listless. If it progresses they can be very lethargic, have troubles breathing and unfortunately untreated it can be fatal,” she said, also noting the dogs can be contagious with the infection before the symptoms begin.

While there is a test available to confirm diagnosis, Cline said they are costly and dog owners and the veterinarians in the area have been putting their focus into treatment of the suspected cases. One suspected case has been fatal, she said. Treatment can include supportive care, antibiotics, with more severe cases requiring possible IV treatment. The kennel cough vaccine will not treat the flu, although there is an option to purchase and import a vaccine from Florida.

“We just want people to know that, even if it seems mild, they shouldn’t hesitate to get their pets checked by a veterinarian,” stressed Cline. “They need immediate care.”

“If you don’t nip it in the bud, your dog will die from it,” said Strooband. “It’s better to be safe. It’s important to have a good relationship with your vet so you can take the proper precautions.”


Rare dog flu discovered in Windsor and Essex County [windsoriteDOTca News, 9 Jan 2018]

A rare form of influenza, H3N2 canine influenza, has been identified in two dogs in Essex County.

The dogs were imported from South Korea in late December and were showing signs of respiratory disease the following day when they were examined by a veterinarian, according to officials with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

A small number of dogs that had close contact with the affected dogs also have mild respiratory disease, but test results from those animals are not yet available.

Officials say this is the first known instance of H3N2 canine influenza in Canada. The virus is widespread in some parts of Asia and is causing outbreaks in various locations of the United States, especially in shelters. Canine influenza virus is of concern because it is highly transmissible between dogs, particularly in areas such as Canada where dogs do not have natural immunity from previous infection and where canine influenza vaccination is rare.

The investigation and response are ongoing, and at this point, the concern mainly involves the imported dogs and their close contacts. Affected and exposed dogs are being confined by their owners to help prevent further spread. However, Health Unit officials say dog owners in Windsor and Essex County should be vigilant and watch for signs of respiratory disease in their dogs, particularly dogs that frequently have contact with other dogs.

Officials note most dogs that develop influenza do not get seriously ill. Respiratory disease that is indistinguishable from other infectious respiratory diseases (canine infectious respiratory disease complex, also known as ‘kennel cough’) usually occurs, although serious (including fatal) infections and/or complications can develop. Infected dogs can shed influenza virus for a short time prior to the onset of disease. Dogs that appear to be healthy are still a potential source of infection. Canine influenza vaccines can reduce the risk of disease and are available from veterinarians in Canada. Cats can be infected but this appears to be rare.

Canine H3N2 influenza virus is different than the human H3N2 influenza virus that is a common seasonal flu virus in people. There is no known human risk from H3N2 canine influenza virus, according to Health Unit officials, however, the risk of a mixing together between the canine H3N2 virus and human seasonal influenza viruses is a potential concern.

Because canine influenza virus (as well as other infectious causes of respiratory disease) can be highly contagious, care must be taken with sick dogs. Dogs with signs of respiratory disease (e.g. cough, decreased appetite, nasal and eye discharge, and fever) should be kept away from others dogs for at least 2 weeks. If a dog with potentially infectious respiratory disease is taken to a veterinarian, the veterinary clinic should be informed in advance so that they can take appropriate precautions, such as admitting the dog directly to an examination or isolation room and using isolation precautions.


South Bay Pet Hospital Reports Two Cases of Dog Flu [NBC Bay Area, 9 Jan 2018]

By Anoushah Rasta

A doctor with United Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital reports an increase of dogs coughing

By all accounts the Chavarria family's 1-year-old dog, Jax, is a "happy, go lucky" dog, as they say. That is -- until last week.

"We noticed he wasn't eating, he was just really lethargic, he was coughing a lot," said Jax's owner, Gauria Chavarria.

Turns out it was not just the cold weather.

One vet told the family Jax had "kennel cough," a contagious respiratory infection. But after a trip to a San Jose animal emergency hospital and nearly $2,000 later, Jax tested positive for canine influenza, also known as the dog flu. He then started antibiotics.

"I didn't know a dog could get the flu," Chavarria said.

Dr. Stephanie La Plume with United Veterinary Specialty and Emergency said dog flu is "highly contagious," and the pets can catch it most where dogs interact with other dogs -- like dog parks, kennels or doggy day cares.

The Chavarria family tells us Jax started coughing, losing his appetite and being lethargic after they brought him more from "We Dog Care" doggy daycare in Willow Glen.

A second dog owner whose pet was also diagnosed with the flu at the same emergency room hospital has a similar story.

"I've been here at this hospital for 10 years. I've ever seen canine influenza before and now, in the past week, we've had two cases hospitalized with it and a dramatic increase in dog's coughing," La Plume said.

A manager at We Dog Care said during the course of last weekend, the daycare started to see possible signs of kennel cough. By Monday, the manager said they had confirmed cases.

It is unclear whether or not the two confirmed dog flu cases at the emergency room clinic started from We Dog Care. The facility said either way, it is closing down on Sunday for deep cleaning and renovations.

Ruben Serrato with We Dog Care provided the following statement:

All dogs at We Dog Care have received the bordatella vaccine and we use industry best practice cleaning solution to minimize germ spread. Staff is trained to identify kennel cough and other sicknesses and we turn away dogs showing up with symptoms. If dogs develop symptoms in our care we isolate them immediately. All customers have been made aware of these policies from the time they sign up as it is included in signed agreements and lobby literature. Nevertheless, like the human cold, there is no way to eliminate the spread of the dog cold and flu in a social environment altogether. There is an incubation period and some dogs can be carriers while showing no symptoms. We have worked with local vets to contain and minimize this outbreak.


If your dog develops a cough, La Plume encourages owners to call a veterinarian immediately because whether it's kennel cough or the flu, your pet should not be around other dogs so the virus does not spread.

Meanwhile, Jax appears to be on the road to recovery.

"He's still coughing a little bit, but he's actually getting his energy back, which is good," Chavarria said.


Dog Flu Identified In Essex County [BlackburnNews.com, 8 Jan 2018]

BY MAUREEN REVAIT

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Photo courtesy [コピーライト] Can Stock Photo Inc. / pashabo
Two cases of H3N2 canine influenza have been confirmed in Essex County.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says the infected dogs were imported from South Korea, via the United States, and were showing signs of respiratory disease when they were inspected by a veterinarian. A small number of dogs that were in contact with these dogs are also show signs of respiratory disease but test results are not available for them yet.

This is the first known case of H3N2 canine influenza in Canada. The health unit says the virus is different from the human flu virus and there is no known risk to people. However, there is some concern that the two viruses could mix.

The H3N2 canine virus is highly contagious among dogs but is believed to be contained to the imported dogs and their close contacts. However, the health unit says dog owners should be vigilant and watch for signs of respiratory disease. Most dogs that develop the flu do not get seriously sick.

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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 12 till 14 Jan 2018


Duck farm in Yunlin hit by avian flu, 3,915 birds culled [Focus Taiwan News Channel, 14 Jan 2018]

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Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) A duck farm in Yunlin County has been confirmed as being infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus, leading to the culling of 3,915 ducks, a Council of Agriculture (COA) bureau said Sunday.

The ducks were culled earlier that day at a farm in Dongshih Township, which was also disinfected, the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement.

This was the fourth case of bird flu reported in Yunlin and the sixth in Taiwan this year, said Shih Tai-hua (施泰華), deputy director-general of the bureau, adding that a total of 69,668 birds around the country have been culled due to avian influenza in the first two weeks of 2018.

Cases of avian flu generally peak during the cool season from January to April, the bureau said and urged farmers to step up hygiene and sanitation inspections. Any cases of abnormal poultry deaths should be reported to the authorities as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of the disease, officials said.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)


Iran Culls Millions of Chickens to Curb Bird Flu: Official [Tasnim News Agency (press release), 14 Jan 2018]

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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – More than 17 million chickens have been culled in Iran over the past ten months as part of efforts to control avian flu, head of Iran Veterinary Organization said.

In comments at a press conference on Sunday, Alireza Refiepour said the bird flu would have spread to many parts of the country if the culling operation had not taken place.

According to the official, 15 provinces in Iran witnessed the outbreak of avian flu.

He also noted that arrangements have been made to secure a steady supply of chicken and eggs, saying the Agriculture Ministry even imported eggs to balance the market.

A hike in the price of chicken eggs in Iran over the past month forced the administration to import the product from abroad. Officials blamed bird flu for a shortage of eggs in the market.

Avian flu, a type of influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds, has also broken out in some other countries lately, including in Britain and Turkey.


Bird flu outbreak confirmed in England - poultry owners warned [News Shopper, 14 Jan 2018]

by Calum Rutter

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Bird flu has been confirmed in England for the first time this winter, and officials have issued a warning to anyone who keeps birds.

So far, it has only been found in 17 birds in Dorset, but because the infected birds were wild, the disease could spread to elsewhere in the country.

Public Health England has said this poses no threat to humans, but the government has outlined the threat this poses to the UK's bird population.

UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

The government's latest advice to increase biosecurity can be found here.

There are currently no plans to cull bird populations.


Bird Flu Outbreak Detected In Dorset [Heart, 14 Jan 2018]

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Bird flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, DEFRA have confirmed, with more expected over the coming days.

Now asking bird owners to be vigilant as while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months. This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
Have set up a map to show which areas are at high risk

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UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said:
This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.

While there is no legislative requirement to put restrictions in place when this strain of virus is found in wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed local measures will be introduced to help manage the potential threat.

A local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ will be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found. This means it will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place such as feeding and watering birds indoors to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy. This will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of our work to monitor the threat of bird flu.

There are no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions in place.

The risk to domestic poultry nationally remains low, however good biosecurity is essential and bird keepers across the country are reminded to follow our biosecurity advice which includes specific advice for keepers of backyard flocks.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

Trade should not be affected following the findings in wild birds, according to the rules of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE).


Town quarantined, 609 birds killed over bird flu in Turkey’s southeast [Hurriyet Daily News, 14 Jan 2018]


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At least 609 birds were killed and a town was quarantined in the southeastern province of Mardin when authorities detected two birds were carrying the influenza in the suburban Kızıltepe County on Jan. 13.

“A local told us about their animals dying, and, so, we contacted the authorities who took a couple of the dead animals for inspections to Elazığ,” Seyfettin Çiftçi, neighbordhood mukhtar told journalists.

“Bird flu was detected on the animals that died,” Çiftçi said.

“Then, units arrived and killed all winged-animals,” Çiftçi added.

The city health teams buried the birds in a pit after they were destroyed, and quarantined the town, Doğan News Agency reported.

The authorities who arrived at the Büyük Boğazye village in the county after the bird flu’s detection were seen to be wearing special uniforms and masks when collecting the animals.

The units also applied disinfectant to the coops and animal shelters.

“They began collecting all two-feeted animals, including ducks, chicken, and turkey, saying they would kill them,” Çiftçi said.

Raising local concerns, Çiftçi also mentioned the killing of these animals would cost the locals a price that, he thinks, should be compensated.

The inspections are ongoing the southeastern province regarding the disease.


Two more farms infected with avian flu [Taipei Times, 14 Jan 2018]

By Lin Chia-nan

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Pingtung County Animal Disease Control Center personnel cull chickens at a farm in the county’s Yanpu Townhsip on Friday.
Photo provided by the Pingtung County Animal Disease Control Center

Two more poultry farms in Pingtung County (屏東県) have been infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2 strain and another H5 subtype, following an alert issued on Friday regarding an avian flu outbreak in Japan and other countries, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.

Japan, South Korea, Italy and other European countries are experiencing avian flu epidemics, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Shih Tai-hua (施泰華) said on Friday.

Japan is one of the areas worst hit by the virus, with a farm in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture found to have been infected with an H5 subtype virus, prompting the council to ban poultry imported from the country, Shih said, adding that the farm culled 92,000 chickens on Thursday.

Since the beginning of this year, five farms in Taiwan — three in Yunlin County’s Dongshih (東勢) and Huwei (虎尾) townships and two in Pingtung’s Yanpu Township (鹽埔) — were confirmed to have been infected with H5 viruses, and 65,753 fowls had been culled as of 6pm yesterday, council data showed.

A poultry farm in Yanpu had 39,000 ducks culled yesterday, according to the council.

From Tuesday until March 31, duck farmers are required to present examination reports that prove their ducks are not infected with bird flu, or they cannot send their ducks to slaughterhouses or markets, Shih said yesterday.

Poultry farmers should make their coops as clean and warm as possible, since chickens are more likely to be infected with bird flu in cold weather, the council said.

The council said it would continue monitoring 90 chicken farms until March 31, while 360 farms raising egg-laying chickens are monitored throughout the year.
stable

While most infection cases are reported in the central and southern regions, the council also received reports about people dumping dead fowls in rivers in northern Taoyuan (桃源県) and Chiayi County (嘉義県).

People who dump dead birds or fail to report infections face a fine of NT$50,000 to NT$1 million (US$1,689 and US$33,784), it said.


Taiwan reports new outbreak of bird flu [Xinhua, 14 Jan 2018]

TAIPEI, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Taiwan has confirmed a new outbreak of bird flu at a duck farm, and culled about 39,000 ducks, according to the island's animal and plant health inspection and quarantine bureau.

Ducks at a large farm in Yenpu town, Pingdong county, in the southern region of Taiwan were confirmed to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5 sub-type of the avian influenza virus, the bureau said Friday night.

The virus was likely to be the H5N2 strain because the affected duck farm is located close to farms where other H5N2 cases have emerged. A chicken farm in the same town was confirmed to have the H5N2 flu strain on Dec. 29, the bureau said.

There are many open duck farms in the same area, and disinfection work will be strengthened, according to the bureau.

Taiwan is a common destination for migrating birds. Cases of avian flu generally peak during the cool season from January to April.



CDC Delays Nuclear-Preparedness Training to Focus on Flu Instead [New York Magazine, 13 Jan 2018]


By Benjamin Hart

The Centers for Disease Control announced on Friday that it would delay a nuclear-preparedness teaching session to focus instead on a more quotidian danger: the flu.

The agency had been slated to present a workshop titled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation” on January 16. “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely,” the agency had posted on its website, “it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.”

Though the CDC had held a similar event in 2010, the timing of this one seemed designed as a response to the heated rhetoric between President Trump and North Korea over the last year.

Trump has threatened to destroy the country with “fire and fury” and boasted of the size of his “nuclear button.” North Korea has bolstered its nuclear program to the point that it can plausibly strike the mainland United States. Hawaii, which faces a unique threat from North Korea’s weapons capability, has brought back a dormant nuclear-attack-warning test.

But the CDC denied that its session was related to Trump’s belligerence, claiming that the session had been planned in April, before his rhetoric warmed to thermonuclear levels.

Still, the agency has done little to tamp down the morbid-curiosity factor. As the Washington Post noted, “The initial CDC announcement featured a photograph of the distinctive mushroom cloud from a nuclear blast.”

This year’s influenza season is unusually severe, with a strain that has not been responding well to vaccines. “To date, this influenza season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the United States is seeing at the same time, which can stress health systems,” the CDC said on Friday.


Bird flu scare forces dietary change for zoo inmates [The Hindu, 13 Jan 2018]

by Abhinay Deshpande

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The animals at Nehru Zoological Park to be given additional quantities of beef instead of chicken and eggs.

Procurement of poultry meat to be halted after outbreak of H5N1 virus in Karnataka

As the spectre of avian influenza looms large, the inmates of Nehru Zoological Park may soon be facing a dietary change. Following the outbreak of the H5N1 virus in Karnataka, worried zoo authorities are planning to put in place dietary restrictions for the animals. These include an exclusion of chicken and eggs, which authorities said are fed to most animals as breakfast.

Chicken and eggs are also part of a special diet given to pregnant and sick animals. “More than a kilogram of chicken or a dish prepared with chicken is given to pregnant and sick animals in the zoo,” an official said.

Zoo curator Shivani Dogra told The Hindu that the management has decided to stop procurement of poultry meat from the next week.

“We get about 30 kg of chicken and over 100 eggs daily to feed animals, mostly carnivores such as lions, tigers and panthers. This will be stopped in the next couple of days, following outbreak of bird flu in Karnataka, an airborne disease” she said.

She said that the staff has been vigilant and all possible steps would be taken to ensure safety of animals and birds in the zoo.

Ms. Dogra said that so far, there had been no cases of avian flu or unnatural bird deaths in the zoo. However, as a precautionary measure, poultry meat would be restricted and replaced with additional quantities of beef.

Official said that as a prophylactic measure, all the birds would be given medication and veterinarians had been asked to monitor the health of birds at regular intervals.

The zoo curator said that during the alert period, the zoo would not take in any rescued birds and were keeping a vigil on migratory birds. “Bird flu is caused mostly due to migratory birds.

So, we are focusing on them,” she said, adding that cleaning and disinfection of the zoo premises was being carried out regularly.

Officials said that there were about 1,500 animals in the zoo, of which over 500 were birds, so no risks were being taken.

Last year too, the authorities had twice suspended procurement of chicken for a month on each occasion due to the same reason.


Taiwan bans poultry from Japan following outbreak of avian flu [Taiwan News, 13 Jan 2018]

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Taiwan reiterates ban on poultry from Japan. (By Central News Agency)

Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Taiwan issued a new ban on Japanese poultry on Friday after an H5 strain of avian flu was detected in Japan's Kagawa Prefecture that led to the culling of 92,000 chickens.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) on Friday listed Japan as an epidemic region for the highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza and reinstated a ban on the import of its poultry that was only lifted on Monday.

This news comes on the heels of reported outbreaks of the avian influenza throughout Japan, South Korea and Europe.

According to BAPHIQ deputy director-general Shih Tai-hwa (施泰華), in the latest case in Japan, the H5 strain was found and confirmed at a chicken farm in Sanuki city, in Kagawa Prefecture on Thursday, which led to the culling of the 92,000 chickens on the farm.

Taiwan previously imposed a ban on poultry from Japan on Nov. 29, 2016, when a major bird flu outbreak took place on farms in the northern part of the country.

Taiwanese authorities only lifted the ban on Monday when the BAPHIQ declared it no longer an epidemic area, Shih noted.

He assured the public that during the four days between the lifting of the ban and its reinstatement, there were no imports of Japanese poultry into the country. (By Kuan-lin Liu and Yang Su-min)


Bird flu hits Dorset - 17 cases reported [ITV News, 13 Jan 2018]

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Bird flu
Photo: Press Association

Bird flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed the cases with more expected over the coming days.

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months.

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More cases of bird flu expected Credit: Press Assocation

This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds. As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds, whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm, is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected. – NIGEL GIBBENS, UK CHIEF VETERINARY OFFICER


A local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ will be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found.

This means it will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place, such as feeding and watering birds indoors to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.


Bird flu ARRIVES in UK after virus with GLOBAL PANDEMIC potential kills 300 in China [Daily Star, 13 Jan 2018]

By Nicholas Bieber

BIRD flu has spread to the UK and left a town locked in a prevention zone, it has been revealed.

The virus has killed 17 wild birds in Weymouth, Dorset, in the first outbreak of the winter.

Now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) fears it will spread.

The discovery has been made in 17 wild birds that have died in the seaside town in recent days.

It comes weeks after experts warned cases of a strain of bird flu with pandemic potential had soared in China.

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WARNING: Bird flu has arrived in the UK for the first time this winter

Flu-ed up: What are flu symptoms and how do you beat the bug? You can often treat the flu without seeing your GP and should begin to feel better in about a week


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You can often treat the flu without seeing your GP

The strain, H7N9, spiked in humans and killed 281 people in 2017, while leaving hundreds more bedridden in hospital.

Fortunately the strain that has arrived in Britain is different.

Although it poses a “very low” risk to the public, according to Public Health England, the World Health Organisation says “human infection cannot be excluded”.

The virus, which is closely related to the H5N6 strain spreading throughout Europe, is also not a food safety risk.

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LOCKDOWN: A prevention zone has been set up in Weymouth
Worldwide epidemic diseases Recent outbreaks of Cholera, Yellow Fever and the Zika Virus have swept the globe. Here are some of the most recent epidemics.


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Ebola: Victim Pauline Cafferkey was transported to London Hospital in an isolation tent for the third time
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise.

"But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

Zika virus may each Europe this summer The Zika virus, an infectious disease linked to severe birth defects in babies, may spread into Europe as the weather gets warmer

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Letica de Araujo (L)
holdinh her daughter, one-year-old Manuelly Araujo da Cruz, who was born with microcephaly

Defra has now declared a prevention zone around the affected area, which is close to the vill
age of Abbotsbury.

Anyone inside the zone who keeps captive birds has been told to feed and water their animals inside and disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of enclosures.

Members of the public are also being urged to report any sightings of dead birds in the area to Defra.

The news comes as Aussie Flu continues to swarm Britain, leaving nearly 100 people dead across the UK.


What is Bird Flu, where is there an outbreak in the UK, how is it affecting farmers across Europe and can humans catch it? [The Sun, 13 Jan 2018]

by Sophie Roberts and Jon Lockett

The NHS reveals ways to avoid contracting the contagious virus


BIRD flu is an infectious virus which affects many species of birds and certain strains can pose a threat to humans.

As of May 2017 two reports from the Government reveal that the H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at sites in Norfolk and Lancashire as well as Lincolnshire and Suffolk. In January 2018 a case of the H5N6 strain of bird flu was confirmed in Dorset affecting 17 wild birds. Here's all there is to know.

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 The virus usually affects birds, such as turkeys, but it can also spread to humans

What is bird flu and where have UK outbreaks occured?

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed on January 12, 2018, that a case of the H5N6 strain of bird flu has been discovered in 17 wild birds in Dorset.

They have said this does not pose a food safety risk and that the risk to people's health was "very low".

Defra’s chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: “This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter [2018] and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

“As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise."

The H5N6 strain which has been identified in UK cases has NEVER been found in humans anywhere in the world.

The World Health Organisation say "human infection cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low."

In the first half of 2017, millions of British eggs temporarily lost their free range status as farmers were forced to keep their birds in barns to tackle bird flu.

After the outbreak, the government ordered all poultry had to be kept locked up inside to prevent any further spread of the disease.

And under strict European Union rules, all birds which have been kept indoors for more than 12 weeks are no longer deemed free range.

The emergency measures were rescinded in April 2017, but many farmers still kept their hens indoors for the birds’ protection.

So what is bird flu and where was UK outbreak?

The virus, which is also known as avian flu, is a type of influenza that mainly affects birds.

The H5N8 strain of the disease was, in 2017, confirmed at a farm in Northumberland, a poultry farm in Suffolk, in three premises on a commercial game farm in Lancashire, in three separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire

Can it affect humans?

While there are many different strains of bird flu, only two of them have caused serious concerns for humans over the past few decades - which does NOT include the one - H5N6 - which has hit the UK.

The H5N1 has led to medical problems since 1997 and H7N9 has been prevalent since 2013.

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 As it stands, there have been no reported cases of bird flu in the UK

Bird flu can spread to people when they have direct contact with the infection.

This can occur when humans touch dead or alive contaminated birds, their droppings or secretions from their eyes.

Visiting live bird markets in countries that have suffered from avian flu outbreaks is sometimes also a cause for concern.

The NHS explains that “close and prolonged contact with an infected bird is generally required for the infection to spread to humans.”

For example:

・touching infected birds that are dead or alive
・inhaling or being in contact with dried dust from the droppings or bedding of infected birds
・inhaling or being in contact with droplets sneezed by infected birds
・culling, slaughtering, butchering or preparing infected poultry for cooking

Last year, The World Health Organisation confirmed that 840 people had been infected by the H6N1 virus worldwide by May 2015 and 447 of the cases were fatal.

Despite these alarming statistics, as it stands, there have been no reported cases of bird flu in humans in the UK.

What are the symptoms?

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 Abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting are among the symptoms

The effects of the illness are similar to other types of flu.

Symptoms include

・high temperature
・aching muscles
・headache
・respiratory problems
・diarrhoea and vomiting
・abdominal pain
・chest pain
・nose and gum bleeding

The NHS warns: “These symptoms can come on suddenly.

“The time from infection to the start of symptoms (incubation period) is usually three to five days, although in some cases it can be up to seven days.”

In rare cases, bird flu can trigger some potentially fatal complications, such as pneumonia and multiple organ failure.

How is avian flu treated?

As avian flu is so contagious, sufferers are warned to stay at home or are treated in hospital isolation.

They are advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids and take medication to relieve the symptoms of fever and pain.

Anti-viral medication may also be prescribed.

How can you prevent bird flu?

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 Visiting live bird markets or poultry farms sometimes leads to bird flu spreading to humans

The NHS reveal ways you can avoid contracting bird flu:

・avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
・avoid contact with surfaces that are contaminated with bird droppings
・don't pick up or touch birds (dead or alive)
・don't eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
・don't bring any live poultry products back to the UK, including feathers
・always practise good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly


Now BIRD flu hits Britain with 17 animals killed at famous Abbotsbury swannery and residents finding bodies in local rivers [Daily Mail, 13 Jan 2018]

By Darren Boyle and Dianne Apen-sadler

・Scientists are investigating a bird flu outbreak which has hit the Dorset region
・Famed Abbotsbury Swannery is among those affected by the flu
・So far 17 birds have been identified with a European strand of avian influenza
・Members of the public have been asked to report sightings of any dead birds
・A dead swan was found by a local resident in the River Stour this morning

A famed swannery in Dorset is among those hit by bird flu after the disease was detected in 17 birds in the region, experts from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have confirmed.

Abbotsbury Swannery, a popular tourist spot, has several mute swans, one Canada Goose and one Potchard Duck that are affected.

It is the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans.

Scientists believe more cases of the disease will emerge over the coming days.

Tests have found the infected birds are carrying a form of the disease closely related to the H5N6 strain that has infected birds across Europe, however it is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year.

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Scientists have found 17 wild birds in Dorset which have been infected with the H5N6 bird flu strain. It is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year

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Popular tourist spot Abbotsbury Swannery has several mute swans, one Canada Goose and one Potchard Duck that have been affected

Abbotsbury Swannery is currently closed to the public during the winter season and is not due to reopen until March 17.

Public Health England said the risk to the public is very low.

Earlier today Wendie Bryant, from Blandford, found a dead swan in the River Stour.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency told Mrs Bryant that a vet would be sent out to collect the swan in the next few hours.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said: 'This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.'

Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease.

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The swannery is the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans (pictured: swans gathering for feeding at Abbotsbury in 2012)

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Abbotsbury Swannery is currently closed to the public as it is the winter season and is not due to reopen until March 17

In response to the scare, a local 'avian influenza prevention zone' has been introduced in the Dorset area where the outbreak was located.

Farmers will be asked to increase bio-security measures and keep their birds indoors to minimise the mixing with wild birds and reduce the chance of spreading the disease.

They have also been asked to disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of bird enclosures.

Members of the public have also been asked to report sightings of any dead birds in the area to the department so the cause of death can be investigated.

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Earlier today Wendie Bryant, from Blandford, found a dead swan in the River Stour. A vet from the Animal and Plant Health Agency has been sent out to collect the bird


Taiwan bans poultry from Japan following outbreak of avian flu [Focus Taiwan News Channel, 13 Jan 2018]

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Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Taiwan issued a new ban on Japanese poultry on Friday after an H5 strain of avian flu was detected in Japan's Kagawa Prefecture that led to the culling of 92,000 chickens.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) on Friday listed Japan as an epidemic region for the highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza and reinstated a ban on the import of its poultry that was only lifted on Monday.

This news comes on the heels of reported outbreaks of the avian influenza throughout Japan, South Korea and Europe.

According to BAPHIQ deputy director-general Shih Tai-hwa (施泰華), in the latest case in Japan, the H5 strain was found and confirmed at a chicken farm in Sanuki city, in Kagawa Prefecture on Thursday, which led to the culling of the 92,000 chickens on the farm.

Taiwan previously imposed a ban on poultry from Japan on Nov. 29, 2016, when a major bird flu outbreak took place on farms in the northern part of the country.

Taiwanese authorities only lifted the ban on Monday when the BAPHIQ declared it no longer an epidemic area, Shih noted.

He assured the public that during the four days between the lifting of the ban and its reinstatement, there were no imports of Japanese poultry into the country.

(By Kuan-lin Liu and Yang Su-min)


Avian flu in wild birds in south Dorset leads to Prevention Zones [Somerset County Gazette, 13 Jan 2018]

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Avian flu in wild birds in south Dorset leads to Prevention Zones

Areas of south Dorset have been declared a Prevention Zone and requirements have been imposed on all bird keepers after bird flu has been found in 17 wild birds in that area. More are expected to be confirmed over the coming days.

The districts covered by the Prevention Zone are in the Weymouth and Portland areas.

From 12 January 2018, a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in specific, targeted areas of South Dorset. All keepers in this Prevention Zone must follow the government's detailed requirements on strict biosecurity.

UK chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

Anyone who keeps poultry within this new Prevention Zone is required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

The requirements apply to all keepers of birds, regardless of flock size or if your birds are pets.

Keepers within the Prevention Zone can allow birds outdoors into fenced areas provided the areas meet certain conditions including:

- you have made the areas unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources

- you have taken action to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

- you have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them

If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear.

Outside this area, in the rest of England, keepers are not legally required to apply extra biosecurity, but they are encouraged to continue to follow Defra's best practice biosecurity advice.

Anyone who finds dead wild birds should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Note:

Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.

If you keep poultry, you should keep a close watch on them for signs of disease, and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your poultry, seek prompt advice from your vet.

You should register your poultry so we can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.


Telangana on bird flu alert [The Hindu, 13 Jan 2018]

by Rohit P.S.

State better prepared to handle the situation this time

Telangana government has been put on alert after an avian Influenza outbreak was reported recently in neighboring Karnataka. Animal Husbandry department has been asked to sensitise staff about handling an outbreak.

An outbreak of bird flu, caused by H5N1 virus, was confirmed at a poultry farm close to Bengaluru late in December, prompting culling at the farm earlier this month. This also prompted administrations of neighboring States, including Telangana, to alert its veterinary staff to the possibility of an outbreak, mainly in bordering areas. Measures, including sealing borders to birds from affected areas, besides sensitising staff about of Centre’s bird flu protocols, will be taken if necessary, sources in the Animal Husbandry department said.

Circular

“A circular was sent to the districts to alert staff about the risk of outbreak. Besides sensitisation measures to ground-level staff, we will soon start randomly collecting blood samples from poultry in areas where the industry is clustered,” an official of the department said. “The current rate of mortality in Karnataka does not seem to be alarmingly high to initiate preventive measures yet,” the official.


Bhopal lab quells fears of bird flu [Deccan Chronicle, 13 Jan 2018]


the samples of farm chicken were from Yelahanka and Nelamangala.

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The samples of farm chicken were from Yelahanka and Nelamangala.(Representational Image)

Bengaluru: For chicken lovers in the State here is some good news: the NISHAD laboratory in Bhopal has quelled fears of bird flu outbreak among native variety of chicken. Though the state government laboratory had ruled out such fears regarding farm chicken also, NISHAD is yet to submit its report.

Animal Husbandry Minister A Manju told reporters here on Friday that the samples of both farm and native variety chicken were sent to NISHAD laboratory. While the native variety samples were collected from Mandya, the samples of farm chicken were from Yelahanka and Nelamangala.

Even the local scientists at UAD tested both the samples. The report admitted that both the samples were found positive for H5 Avian Influenza, the said infection was not harmful to humans on consuming chicken.

Even NISHAD has seconded the opinion on native variety of chicken. The report on farm variety is expected to reach government in two days, Mr Manju said.



Poultry farmers on alert as bird flu confirmed in the UK [Irish Farmers Journal, 12 Jan 2018]

By Caitríona Morrissey

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Avian influenza poses a threat to commercial and domestic poultry flocks and can be spread by wild birds.

Poultry farmers in the South Dorset area of the UK have been put on high alert for bird flu.

Wild birds in the area have been confirmed with bird flu, which poses a serious threat to commercial and domestic flocks of poultry.

In 2017, poultry farmers in Ireland were forced to restrict their flocks to prevent possible infection from contact with wild birds.

From 12 January a new avian influenza prevention zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry
or captive birds, in specific targeted areas of South Dorset.
Prevention zone

All bird keepers in the area must now follow detailed requirements on strict biosecurity.

While they are still permitted to keep birds outside, they must meet certain conditions.

・That the area has been made unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds and by removing wild bird food sources.

・Action has been taken to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas and fencing off wet or boggy areas.

・Flock owners have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them.

The H5N8 strain of bird flu is a highly pathogenic version of the type A influenza viruses that infect birds.

The type A influenza viruses are separated into two categories, based on the viruses’ ability to cause disease in poultry.

These categories are low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Low pathogenic typically causes little or no clinical signs in birds, while highly pathogenic causes severe disease and can kill up to 100% of the birds it infects.


Traces of H5N6 virus detected in fresh provision shop in Wan Chai [7thSpace Interactive (press release), 12 Jan 2018]

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said today (January 12) that under the routine surveillance programme for avian influenza (AI) at markets and fresh provision shops which is commissioned by the FEHD and conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU), traces of H5N6 virus were detected from an environmental swab of a chopping board and skin swabs of a chilled duck sample taken from a fresh provision shop in Wan Chai earlier. Swabs taken from the inside of the duck carcass were tested negative for AI virus. After analysis by experts, it was believed that the chilled duck concerned was not infected and it was only contaminated by traces of virus on its outer skin.

Since virus on the carcass of chilled poultry will not replicate, the chance of AI infection through properly treated chilled poultry meat is very slim.

The spokesman said, "Following the detection of traces of H5 virus in an environmental swab from a chopping board used in the above-mentioned premises on January 8, the HKU immediately conducted a follow-up investigation and took other environmental swabs and poultry samples for further testing of AI virus. The follow-up environmental swabs and a live chicken sample were all tested negative. The HKU confirmed today that the skin swabs of the above chilled duck sample collected from the premises concerned was detected with traces of H5N6 virus.

It was believed that the sample was only contaminated on the outer skin and the virus would not replicate on the carcass. Therefore, experts believed that the risk of the spread of AI virus would not increase. FEHD is investigating the source of the contamination."

Upon learning that the environmental swab was tested positive of H5 virus, the FEHD has immediately enhanced inspections of the premises concerned and instructed the stall to conduct thorough cleansing and disinfection, as well as provided health education for its staff.

All chopping boards used in the premises concerned are also replaced. The FEHD will continue to monitor the hygiene conditions of the premises and take appropriate follow-up actions.

For AI prevention, the FEHD has been implementing a number of measures at public market stalls and fresh provision shops selling live poultry, including enhanced inspections and ensuring strict compliance with the requirement of "no overnight stocking", i.e. live poultry stall operators must slaughter all live poultry in the stalls before 8pm every evening and no live poultry can be kept in the premises between 8pm and 5am the following day, as well as to clean their stalls after the close of business every day.

The FEHD has also commissioned the HKU to conduct routine AI surveillance at markets and fresh provision shops, taking faecal and drinking water samples for testing so as to reduce the possibilities of the spread of AI virus in Hong Kong.

The spokesperson reminded the public to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times for AI prevention.

The public is advised to note the following safety tips:

Purchase

• Avoid touching chickens or their faeces when buying live chickens. Do not blow their vent.

Handling

• After handling live poultry, poultry products or eggs, wash hands thoroughly with soap or liquid cleanser.

• Clean thoroughly all working surfaces, utensils and equipments that have been used for handling poultry products or eggs.

• Use separate knives and chopping boards to handle raw food and ready-to-eat food.

• Keep raw poultry meat in well covered container and then store it in the lower compartment of refrigerator. Keep ready-to-eat and cooked food in the upper compartment to avoid cross-contamination.

Consumption

• Cook poultry thoroughly before consumption.

The core temperature of poultry meat should reach 70 degrees Celsius continuously for at least two minutes.

• If there are pinkish juices running from the cooked poultry or the middle parts of the bones are still red in colour, cook the poultry again until fully done.

The Government will continue to stay vigilant and strictly carry out the risk management measures, so as to safeguard public health and environmental hygiene.


CHP notified of human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Xinjiang [The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Press Release, 12 Jan 2018]


The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 12) monitoring a notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) was recorded from January 6 to 12 in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and strongly urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.

A 72-year-old male patient in Korla City died on January 10. He had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms.

"Based on the seasonal pattern, the activity of avian influenza viruses is expected to increase in winter. The public should avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings and should not visit live poultry markets and farms to prevent avian influenza," a spokesman for the CHP said.

Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms. They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.

Travellers returning from affected areas should consult a doctor promptly if symptoms develop, and inform the doctor of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases. It is essential to tell the doctor if they have seen any live poultry during travel, which may imply possible exposure to contaminated environments. This will enable the doctor to assess the possibility of avian influenza and arrange necessary investigations and appropriate treatment in a timely manner.

While local surveillance, prevention and control measures are in place, the CHP will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.

The CHP's Port Health Office conducts health surveillance measures at all boundary control points. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks on inbound travellers. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up.

The display of posters and broadcasting of health messages in departure and arrival halls as health education for travellers is under way. The travel industry and other stakeholders are regularly updated on the latest information.

The public should maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene and take heed of the advice below if handling poultry:

・Avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings;

・When buying live chickens, do not touch them and their droppings. Do not blow at their bottoms. Wash eggs with detergent if soiled with faecal matter and cook and consume the eggs immediately. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chickens and eggs;

・Eggs should be cooked well until the white and yolk become firm. Do not eat raw eggs or dip cooked food into any sauce with raw eggs. Poultry should be cooked thoroughly. If there is pinkish juice running from the cooked poultry or the middle part of its bone is still red, the poultry should be cooked again until fully done;

・Wash hands frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, before handling food or eating, and after going to the toilet, touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing; and

・Wear a mask if fever or respiratory symptoms develop, when going to a hospital or clinic, or while taking care of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms.

The public may visit the CHP's pages for more information: the avian influenza page, the weekly Avian Influenza Report, global statistics and affected areas of avian influenza, the Facebook Page and the YouTube Channel.


News Scan for Jan 12, 2018 H7N9 in China; Fluarix Quad for babies; Avian flu outbreaks; Vaccine-linked polio in DRC (Excerpt) [CIDRAP, 12 Jan 2018]

H7N9 death reported in northwestern China

China has reported its second human H7N9 avian influenza infection of the season, in a 72-year-old man from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region who died from his illness, Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) said in a statement today, based on information from the mainland.

The man from Korla City died on Jan 10, and the investigation into the source of his illness found that he had contact with live poultry before he got sick. Xinjiang is in far northwestern China, and Korla City s in the central part of the region.

So far only one other case has been reported in China's sixth wave of H7N9 activity, that of a 64-year-old man from Yunnan province who had contact with dead poultry. His case was reported in early December. The pace of H7N9 illnesses is down steeply from this time last year, when more than 120 cases had already been reported. The fifth wave was marked by an unusual early surge of infections and brought the largest number of cases, compared with previous seasons.

Japan, South Korea, and UK detail H5N6 detections

In the latest avian flu developments, Japan today reported a new highly pathogenic H5N6 outbreak in poultry, a day after South Korea reported another outbreak involving the strain. Also, the United Kingdom's DEFRA weighed in on a recent H5N6 outbreak in wild birds in Dorset, suggesting the virus is the reassortant detected in other countries.

Japan's H5N6 outbreak began on Jan 10 at a broiler farm in Kagawa prefecture, killing 55 of 51,000 birds, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Culling is slated for the farm's surviving birds as well as 40,000 poultry from an epidemiologically linked farm.

It's not yet clear if the H5N6 strain found on the farm is the same reassortant detected recently in South Korea and a handful of other countries, including Japan, which detected the virus in wild birds from Shimane prefecture in November. Today's OIE report said full genome sequencing of the virus from the poultry outbreak is underway.

Yesterday, South Korea reported two more H5N6 outbreaks, both involving commercial duck farms in hard-hit South Jeolla province, according to a separate OIE report. The events began on Jan 10, and all 20,397 birds on the two farms were destroyed as part of the response.

Elsewhere, DEFRA (the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) today said H5N6 has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, with more expected over the coming days.

The update follows the agency's Jan 10 report to the OIE regarding H5N6 found in a dead mute swan in Dorset.

"This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months," it said, adding that the virus is different from the H5N6 strain that has infected people in China.

DEFRA said the virus does not appear to pose a threat to the public, but is highly infectious and deadly in birds, and it urged poultry keepers to be vigilant and maintain good biosecurity. The Netherlands and Germany have recently reported H5N6 in wild birds, and the virus in the Netherlands is related to the reassortant found in South Korea and a handful of other countries.

In highly pathogenic H5N8 developments, Saudi Arabia reported three more detections, all in backyard flocks, according to an agriculture ministry statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. One occurred in Riyadh province, and the other two were in Eastern province.


H7N9 avian flu fatality reported in Xinjiang [Outbreak News Today, 12 Jan 2018]

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission reported on an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9), this one from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (新疆ウイグル自治区, 新疆維吾爾自治区). This is the 14th case reported from this region.

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Image/pavlofox

The 72-year-old male patient in Korla City died on January 10. He had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms.

The flu pandemic clock is ticking: Are we ready?

Since 2013, 1,565 human cases have been reported with all but 31 reported in China.


Seventeen wild birds confirmed with bird flu in Dorset [FarmingUK, 12 Jan 2018]

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 The virus H5N6 has been found in the birds

The government has confirmed bird flu in 17 wild birds at Abbottsbury, Dorset – 15 in mute swans, 1 Canada Goose and 1 Potchard Duck.


Defra, via the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), has confirmed High Path Avian Influenza in Abbotsbury, Dorset.

The virus H5N6 has been found in the birds. The strain, however, is the European strain, as opposed to the Asian strain, which is not associated with humans.

This strain has already been identified in dead wildfowl found recently in Holland and Germany.

This is the first case of HPAI in the UK this winter and, although Defra is not expected to raise the risk level for poultry, poultry keepers have been urged to raise vigilance and enhance biosecurity now that the virus is circulating in England.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

Migratory birds

Defra believes the virus has come from migratory birds and has probably been around for a few weeks.

The department warns of new cases.

In 2008, Defra put in place a wild bird prevention zone because that was H5N1. As this is H5N6, and with no risk to human health, they do not need to do this.

The GB Poultry Register shows that there are some 40 premises keeping poultry within 10km of the swannery, although only 5 have more than 5k birds (i.e. commercial).

In terms of a risk assessment, poultry farms in the local area are at slightly increased risk. The Abbottsbury site is currently closed, although the Fleet estuary is not.

The national risk remains ‘medium’ for wild birds. Defra intend to put in place a local solution in the form of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ).

It will include additional biosecurity requirements, such as protecting feed and water from wild birds and requiring poultry keepers to disinfect footwear.

What to do if you keep poultry

If you keep poultry – whether that’s a few birds in your garden or a large commercial flock – you should take steps now to review your biosecurity, register your birds with APHA, sign up for disease alerts and report any sick birds.

Bird flu is spread by direct contact between birds and through contamination in the environment, for example in bird droppings.

This means wild birds carrying the disease can infect domestic poultry, so the best way to reduce the risk of your poultry catching bird flu is to minimise chances for them to come into contact with wild birds or their droppings by practising good biosecurity.

You should review your biosecurity measures now, as the risk level may increase in the coming weeks.

This means reading government guidance on good biosecurity and taking action to:

• Minimise movement in and out of your bird enclosure.

• Clean footwear before and after visiting your birds.

• Keep bird enclosures clean and tidy and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces.

• Humanely control rats and mice.

• Place birds’ food and water in fully-enclosed areas that wild birds cannot access, and remove any spilled feed.

• Keep your birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access.

• Make sure equipment, feed and bedding are stored undercover so they cannot be contaminated by wild birds.

• Where possible keep chickens and turkeys separate from ducks and geese.


Bird flu confirmed in 17 wild animals in southern England [Mirror.co.uk, 12 Jan 2018]

ByJoshua Taylor

This is the first confirmed finding of the disease in wild birds in Britain this winter - and officials are setting up a 'flu prevention zone'

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 Seventeen cases of the infection have been confirmed in wild birds in Dorset (Image: Getty)

Seventeen cases of bird flu have been confirmed in southern England.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the illness had been detected in Dorset.

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter.

And tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been ravaging wild birds across Europe in recent months.

Scientists are setting up a 'flu prevention zone' around the area where the infected birds were found.

UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds."


Japanese authorities battle bird flu outbreak [Poultry World, 12 Jan 2018]

byTony McDougal


Japanese authorities have culled 92,000 chickens following the discovery of the highly pathogen H5 avian influenza strain in the west of the country.

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 The case is the first recorded in Japan since March, but the last outbreak which began in November 2016. Photo: Ronald Hissink

The outbreak was confirmed on a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa prefecture on Thursday, following confirmation of preliminary positive tests the day before.

Movement restriction imposed

The authorities have taken swift action in the hope of preventing the virus spreading, imposing a movement restriction of eggs and poultry in a 3km (1.8m) radius from the infected site and farms within a 10km (6.2m) radius will also be banned from transporting birds and eggs out of the area.

The case is the first recorded in Japan since March, but the last outbreak which began in November 2016, led to the culling of 1.67m chickens due to the prevalence of the H5N6 strain.

This week’s case led to a full ministerial meeting, held after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and other relevant government agencies to urge poultry farmers to stay alert and take prompt measure to prevent virus spread.

Another H5N6 outbreak reported

South Korea has reported another H5N6 outbreak this week, which affected a commercial farm housing broiler ducks in South Jeolla province, which has already reported several events involving the strain. The OIE notification said 10 birds had died and the remaining 16,500 susceptible ducks were culled.

Meanwhile, H5N6 virus has also been reported by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 3 dead mute swans in a nature part in the southern county of Dorset. Defra said it was the first detection of the strain in the UK.

The strain has been reported in the Netherlands and earlier this week, Germany, reported its first case in a dead wild duck.


Now UK is hit by BIRD flu as well with 17 wild birds found with disease and more expected in coming days [Daily Mail, 12 Jan 2018]

By DARREN BOYLE

Scientists are investigating a bird flu outbreak which has hit the Dorset region
So far 17 birds have been identified with a European strand of avian influenza
Farmers in the area have been urged to keep their flocks of birds indoor
Members of the public have been asked to report sightings of any dead birds

Bird flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, experts from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have confirmed today.

Scientists believe more cases of the potentially disease will emerge over the coming days.

Tests have found the infected birds are carrying a form of the disease closely related to the H5N6 strain that has infected birds across Europe, however it is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year.

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Scientists have found 17 wild birds in Dorset which have been infected with Bird Flu

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Experts have warned bird owners to keep their stock indoors to prevent them from catching avian flu which has been identified among wild birds in the Dorset region

Public Health England said the risk to the public is very low.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said: 'This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.'

Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease.

In response to the scare, a local 'avian influenza prevention zone' has been introduced in the Dorset area where the outbreak was located.

Farmers will be asked to increase bio-security measures and keep their birds indoors to minimise the mixing with wild birds and reduce the chance of spreading the disease.

Also, farmers have been asked to disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of bird enclosures.

Members of the public have also been asked to report sightings of any dead birds in the area to the department so the cause of death can be investigated.


What is Bird Flu, where is there an outbreak in the UK, how is it affecting farmers across Europe and can humans catch it? [BBC News, 12 Jan 2018]

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The dead birds were found on the Fleet Reserve

A strain of bird flu has been detected in Dorset, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed.

Seventeen wild birds have been found in an area west of Weymouth with a virus closely related to the H5N6 strain.

The disease is highly contagious among birds and bird owners and farmers have been warned to be vigilant and maintain good biosecurity.

Public Health England said the risk to the public was very low.

A spokesperson for Ilchester Estates confirmed the dead birds had been found on the Fleet Reserve near Weymouth.

"Our staff are continuing their winter duties and monitoring the wildlife on the Fleet.

"We are working with Public Health England and APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) to deal with this situation."

Defra said the H5N6 strain has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months.

'Not a surprise'

It is different to the strains which affected people in China last year.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said the discovery had "not come as a surprise".
"It is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

He said an "avian influenza prevention zone" would be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found.

It will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place.

These include feeding birds indoors to prevent them mixing with wild birds, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.

There are no plans to carry out any culls or restrict movements.

The Food Standards Agency said that the bird flu outbreak did not pose a food safety risk.


Asia Pacific Japan starts chicken cull after confirming bird flu outbreak [Channel NewsAsia, 12 Jan 2018]


TOKYO: Japan's western Kagawa prefecture has begun a cull of 91,000 chickens after the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on a farm, the local government said.

The confirmation of the outbreak, which was reported earlier in the week, marked the country's first cases of bird flu in poultry this winter.

The local government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said late Thursday that chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa had been confirmed testing positive for a highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Japan's last outbreak of bird flu occurred in March. Between November 2016 and March 2017, a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu, according to the ministry.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; editing by Richard Pullin)
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 5 till 7 Jan 2018


Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017 [satPRnews (press release), 7 Jan 2018]

BY MICHAŁ KWAŚNIEWSKI


The new report from Pharmaceuticals Market Reports has been published today. It provides updated in 2018 year analysis of pharmaceutical industries.

Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017

Summary:

The latest Pharmaceutical and Healthcare disease pipeline guide Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017, provides an overview of the Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) pipeline landscape.

Avian influenza A (H7N9) is a subtype of influenza viruses. This infection is seen both in humans and birds. Infection is caused when a person is exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments. Symptoms include fever, cough that produces sputum, headache, myalgia and general malaise. Treatment includes antiviral drugs

Report Highlights:

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The Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) pipeline guide also reviews of key players involved in therapeutic development for Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections and features dormant and discontinued projects. The guide covers therapeutics under Development by Companies /Universities /Institutes, the molecules developed by Companies in Phase II, Phase I, Preclinical and Discovery stages are 4, 6, 11 and 2 respectively. Similarly, the Universities portfolio in Phase I and Preclinical stages comprises 2 and 1 molecules, respectively.

Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) pipeline guide helps in identifying and tracking emerging players in the market and their portfolios, enhances decision making capabilities and helps to create effective counter strategies to gain competitive advantage. The guide is built using data and information sourced from our proprietary databases, company/university websites, clinical trial registries, conferences, SEC filings, investor presentations and featured press releases from company/university sites and industry-specific third party sources.

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Note: Certain content / sections in the pipeline guide may be removed or altered based on the availability and relevance of data.

Scope:

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・The pipeline guide evaluates Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) therapeutics based on mechanism of action (MoA), drug target, route of administration (RoA) and molecule type.

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How to keep bird flu at bay [Daily Trust, 7 Jan 2018]

By Safina Buhari

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A poultry farm in Kano

Nigeria was the first African country to experience a known outbreak of bird flu in 2006 which could not be fully contained until 2008. H5N1, popularly known as bird flu is the most infectious and dangerous strain of avian influenza virus.
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The virus which emerged from the Asian continent in the 1980s is not easily transmissible to humans, however, several hundred humans have died during the outbreaks.

By implication, the occurrence of bird flu in the country has negative consequences on the economy, causing decline in egg supply and taking non-compensated farmers out of business.

Bird flu has been prevalent around this time of the year which is why timely bio-safety and other preventive measures need to be employed by owners of poultry farms to avert the epidemic and the accompanying huge financial losses.

Timeline of bird flu outbreaks in Nigeria.

In January 2015, over 11 states reported cases of the H5N1 strain where about 1.6 million birds were depopulated as a result of the outbreak.

Similarly, in September of the same year, a new outbreak of avian influenza was reported in 85 local government areas of 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Then by January 2016, Ebonyi state recorded its first case of avian influenza of the H5N1 strain, and that same month, two million birds were depopulated across the country. As at February 2016, over 90, 000 chickens died from bird flu H5N1 strain, hitting backyard holdings and commercial farms of both broilers and eggs.

By April of same year, the Plateau State government had closed down 62 poultry farms and destroyed more than 190,000 birds affected by bird flu across the state.

However, none of the 130 farmers who were hit both in 2015 and 2016 were compensated as at August 2016.

In December 2016, another outbreak of avian influenza was reported in Kano State, and for the first time, Nigeria reported a case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza strain in a collection of guinea fowls, turkeys and pigeons in Danbare, in Kano State. This was the second incidence in Africa, the first being wild waterfowl in Tunisia.

Coming down to January 2017, the new strain of the avian influenza virus had spread to 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with over 3.5 million birds affected. The new strain is believed to be very pathogenic and more devastating to poultry species.

In February of last year, avian influenza virus resurfaced in Plateau State, killing more than 11,000 birds within one week, and by June, the outbreak had spread to the FCT and seven states of the country. It affected 123 LGAs and 800 poultry farms across the country.

What poultry farmers need to do…

On what poultry farmers need to do, a veterinary consultant and Chairman of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, FCT chapter.

Bala Mohammed noted that bird flu is a highly pathogenic disease caused by the avian influenza virus which causes massive morbidity and mortality of poultry. “When I say pathogenic, it means they can cause very serious disease and the moment they do that, a farm said to be very active within few hours or days you may have suffered mortality, Water birds like ducks, even ostrich are highly susceptible and some of them may not show the signs but they become carriers and they could infect other highly susceptible groups of poultry birds like the chickens and guinea fowls,” he explained.

He identified lack of proper husbandry management techniques as one of the major reasons for the reoccurrence of the outbreak in the country.

Mohammed said that the popular belief that bird flu happens during the harmattan season is not all true, although the season comes with a lot of diseases because most of the disease carriers which are wild birds leave Europe for a warmer climate.

He stated that as a result of the migration of these migratory birds to Tropical Africa, the wild birds infect domesticated birds with the virus.

The veterinary expert pointed out that the H5N1 is a highly pathogenic and deadly strain of the avian influenza virus, although he said there are other strains which are not as fatal as the aforementioned. “What is been diagnosed and we know is the H5N1 which is highly pathogenic, we have some other ones that are not pathogenic they don’t show in the birds,” he said.
Mohammed stated that bird flu could be transmitted through different means, noting that the biosafety measures could be categorized into three.

“Basically the transmission may be mechanical, where you have somebody stepping on the faeces of another bird to another bird, so it can be carried by humans working on an infected poultry.

Another one is that the migratory birds could just be passing and they defecate. That could also cause it. If you also have birds infected that are not properly disposed of, that could also cause infection of some other birds,” he said. The consultant affirmed that raising the level of biosecurity in poultry farms is the best way an outbreak could be averted or minimised to the barest minimum.

On biosecurity measure to employ, Mohammed advised poultry farmers to keep visitors away from the birds at all times and only authorised workers should be allowed to have contact with them.

In his words, “Physically you need to keep people away from your farm, your workers need to face only your farm and your birds not to go others farms and come back and also you need not to re-use crates, some people go to other farms after collecting eggs they bring it.

“Same thing is also applicable to feed sack which could also be a source of contamination. We have people who recycle the sacks after feeding, they go to some other places pack some saw dust bring the same sacks into your farm.”

Secondly, Mohammed pointed out on the need for workers to wash and disinfect hands before touching or feeding the birds, clean up poultry houses and also the need to fumigate the saw dust which the birds use as bedding material. “Reduce the traffic coming into your farm, visitors should not be allowed and for those who come to buy eggs or chicken they must stay far away then you bring out the eggs or chicken at a designated place which should be fumigated at every two to three hours,” he advised.

The consultant further explained that poor environmental health and physiological status of the birds also contribute to weak immunity and susceptibility to the disease.

He advised poultry farmers to consider conditions like appropriate feeding and nutrition and adequate vaccination against diseases like the new castle disease so as to have healthier and stronger birds.

He affirmed that the government of Nigeria does not allow any form of vaccination for poultry birds against the avian influenza virus. “Vaccination against bird flu is not allowed in Nigeria. What we understand from the epidemiology of the disease is that we have so many strains of bird flu and the vaccine is one of the most expensive and tedious one to produce. Now if you do it half way, you therefore have reintroduced another different strain because you have not been able to meet up with the regular vaccination schedule, it is not like other vaccines that you do, maybe, once every two months,” he said.

He explained that the vaccine is not like other vaccines that could be put in their drinking water but needs to be physically injected into the birds, adding that farmers may not be able to give the right dose. He added further that credible veterinary clinics and outlets should be contacted for medicines and disinfectants for traceability purposes.

The consultant commended efforts of government to curb bird flu epidemic in the last 12 years. He, however, appealed for more public awareness. Mohammed also appealed to poultry farmers to report cases of bird flu as soon as they are identified, noting the disease is highly fatal and birds could die within eight hours of being infected.

He added that mortality could be up to 80% and that the symptoms are usually post-mortem.

He, however, stated that bird flu can be suspected when the birds have very poor appetite, look sleepy and when they bleed on their legs.

Mohammed affirmed that consuming infected eggs or chicken or getting in touch with blood of an infected chicken is a major source of concern particularly if they are not well processed so as not to have infection of human population.


Iowa State researchers look for aviani influenza [Tama News-Herald - Toledo Chronicle, 7 Jan 2018]

Ames- Iowa State University research found no evidence that small wild birds and rodents were possible sources of the avian influenza virus that decimated Iowa poultry flocks in 2015.

Jim Adelina, an assistant professor in natural resource ecology and management, and Dr. Kyoung-Jin Yoon, professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, were the co-principal investigators who studied wild birds and rodents around poultry operations to see if they carried the virus or had been exposed to it

Avian influenza is caused by Type A influenza viruses that exist naturally in populations of waterfowl and shorebirds and can somehow occasionally move from these wildlife to domestic animals.

The avian influenza epidemic in 2015 occurred in facilities practicing strict biosecurity controls, which opened the possibility of alternative infection sources, like small songbirds and mammals.

More than 30 million chickens had to be destroyed during the epidemic with an estimated economic impact of at least $1.2 billion.

The study captured about 450 animals at wetlands and near poultry facilities and tested them for the presence of the influenza A virus, but found no sign of the virus based on genetic tests.

Most of the animals also were tested for antibodies against influenza A, and none were found positive.

Although several species were captured at wetland and poultry sites, the overall community structure of wild species differed significantly between these types of sites. In contrast, 83 out of 527 waterfowl sampled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture tested positive for influenza A.

"These results suggest that even though influenza A viruses were present on the Iowa landscape at the time of the sampling, small, wild birds and rodents were unlikely to be frequent bridge hosts," Adelman said.

"My co-investigators and I were surprised at first by these results, as we expected that we would see some positive birds, such as sparrows, based on literature," Yoon said. "But we were also a little relieved to learn that these terrestrial wild birds may not be a major vector of the virus. I was less surprised by the observation that none of the wild rodents were positive, as we have had years of conflicting reports in the literature."

Yoon has been involved in other studies, including a project at ISU looking at possible transmission of the virus through contaminated feed, a study that also was funded by the Egg Industry Center at Iowa State.

"The Egg Industry Center is well-positioned to provide funding for timely research on avian influenza and the other important issues facing the U.S. egg industry," said Honwgei Xin, center director and assistant dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.


Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017 [satPRnews (press release), 7 Jan 2018]

The new report from Pharmaceuticals Market Reports has been published today. It provides updated in 2018 year analysis of pharmaceutical industries.

Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017

Summary:

The latest Pharmaceutical and Healthcare disease pipeline guide Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017, provides an overview of the Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) pipeline landscape.

Avian influenza A (H7N9) is a subtype of influenza viruses. This infection is seen both in humans and birds. Infection is caused when a person is exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments. Symptoms include fever, cough that produces sputum, headache, myalgia and general malaise. Treatment includes antiviral drugs

Report Highlights:

The latest Pharmaceutical and Healthcare latest pipeline guide Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections – Pipeline Review, H1 2017, provides comprehensive information on the therapeutics under development for Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease), complete with analysis by stage of development, drug target, mechanism of action (MoA), route of administration (RoA) and molecule type. The guide covers the descriptive pharmacological action of the therapeutics, its complete research and development history and latest news and press releases.

The Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) pipeline guide also reviews of key players involved in therapeutic development for Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections and features dormant and discontinued projects. The guide covers therapeutics under Development by Companies /Universities /Institutes, the molecules developed by Companies in Phase II, Phase I, Preclinical and Discovery stages are 4, 6, 11 and 2 respectively. Similarly, the Universities portfolio in Phase I and Preclinical stages comprises 2 and 1 molecules, respectively.

Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) pipeline guide helps in identifying and tracking emerging players in the market and their portfolios, enhances decision making capabilities and helps to create effective counter strategies to gain competitive advantage. The guide is built using data and information sourced from our proprietary databases, company/university websites, clinical trial registries, conferences, SEC filings, investor presentations and featured press releases from company/university sites and industry-specific third party sources.

Additionally, various dynamic tracking processes ensure that the most recent developments are captured on a real time basis.

Note: Certain content / sections in the pipeline guide may be removed or altered based on the availability and relevance of data.

Scope:

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・The pipeline guide covers pipeline products based on several stages of development ranging from pre-registration till discovery and undisclosed stages.

・The pipeline guide features descriptive drug profiles for the pipeline products which comprise, product description, descriptive licensing and collaboration details, R&D brief, MoA & other developmental activities.

・The pipeline guide reviews key companies involved in Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) therapeutics and enlists all their major and minor projects.

・The pipeline guide evaluates Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease) therapeutics based on mechanism of action (MoA), drug target, route of administration (RoA) and molecule type.

・The pipeline guide encapsulates all the dormant and discontinued pipeline projects.

・The pipeline guide reviews latest news related to pipeline therapeutics for Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype Infections (Infectious Disease)

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・Adjust the therapeutic portfolio by recognizing discontinued projects and understand from the know-how what drove them from pipeline.


Saudi man becomes first MERS victim of 2018 [ArabianBusiness.com, 7 Jan 2018]

Five new avian flu cases reported

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Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced five new H5N8 avian flu cases in Riyadh, Ahsa and Al-Duwadmi.

A 57-year-old man died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Riyadh last Wednesday, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health.

The ministry’s website classified the victim as the first MERS victim of 2018.
Meanwhile, it also announced that an 80-year-old suffering from the virus was “stable.”

“MERS is endemic in camels in the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries,” Abdullah Assiri, deputy minister for infectious diseases, was reported to have told Arab News on Saturday.

“Human infections are sporadic and linked to direct or indirect exposure to camels or camels’ environment.”

He stressed that “human-to-human transmission is not sustained in the community, however, in health care settings, the transmission is much more efficient. In 2017, MERS outbreaks were largely prevented or controlled.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced five new H5N8 avian flu cases in Riyadh, Ahsa and Al-Duwadmi.

It said that teams in Kharj, Hiraimla, Dharma, Ahsa, Buraidah, Bikairiyah, and Al-Duwadmi have culled infected birds.

The ministry has also banned poultry farms from transporting live birds between regions of the country unless they have permits.


Bird flu scare in Bengaluru: 900 fowls culled after H5N1 avian influenza virus is detected; Karnataka govt starts awareness campaign [Firstpos, 7 Jan 2018]

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Representational image. Reuters

As many as 900 fowls were culled after the H5N1 avian influenza virus was detected in a dead bird in Bengaluru, civic officials said.

The Karnataka health and family welfare department has also begun an awareness campaign to put in place measures against suspected bird flu cases, reported The Economic Times.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters
"A chicken was found dead on 29 December at a chicken shop in (suburban) Dasarahalli area and it was confirmed after lab tests that the bird was infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus," Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Joint Commissioner S Nagaraju told IANS.

Samples from the dead bird were sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal and had tested positive, he said.

"On orders from the Animal Husbandry Department, we have culled a total of 900 birds so far within the region where the infected bird was found," he said.

H5N1 virus-infected birds spread the virus through their saliva, mucus, and faeces. Although the virus does not usually infect people, it can cause fever, diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses in some affected people.

The Animal Husbandry Department had on Tuesday declared an area of one-kilometre radius from where the bird was found dead as the "infected zone" and an area of 10-kilometre radius as the "surveillance" zone. It also ordered meat shops in the infected region to be shut down.

"Meat-selling outlets within the one-kilometre radius from the site where the infected bird was found have all been sealed and we are also inspecting the area in the 10-kilometre radius for any possible virus-infected birds," Principal Secretary, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Rajkumar Khatri told IANS.

The department has also started sanitation measures at Dasarahalli, according to The Hindu. Senior officials said sodium hypochlorite is being sprayed in a one-kilometre radius of the shop where the chicken was tested positive for the flu.

Authorities have also put a check on the sale of eggs in Dasarahalli to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We are following all the government procedures while culling (requiring the fowls to be culled in the same region where the infection was detected) to make sure there is no spreading of the virus," Khatri said.

The civic officials have also issued an advisory to Bengaluru citizens to avoid consuming uncooked chicken and eggs as a precautionary measure.

"We will be following up and holding inspections until we are 100 percent sure that we have eliminated the virus completely," said Khatri.

In an official statement, the Union agriculture ministry said a central team comprising two experts has been deputed to Bengaluru for overseeing the operation and to assist the state government. It further said that the situation is fully under control.

The team visited the local primary healthcare centre and had a detailed discussion with the medical officers and paramedical staff regarding preventive measures taken and surveillance to be continued, reported ANI. The measures taken by the state government have been approved to be satisfactory so far, the report added.


SAUDI ARABIA Riyadh man dies of MERS; 5 new avian flu cases reported [Arab News, 7 Jan 2018]

by Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr. & Sharif M. Taha

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RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Health announced that a 57-year-old man died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Riyadh on Wednesday, and that an 80-year-old who contracted the virus was “stable.”

The 57-year-old has been classified as the first MERS victim of 2018, according to the ministry’s website.

“MERS is endemic in camels in the Arabian peninsula and surrounding countries,” Abdullah Assiri, deputy minister for infectious diseases, told Arab News on Saturday. “Human infections are sporadic and linked to direct or indirect exposure to camels or camels’ environment.”

He added that “human-to-human transmission is not sustained in the community, however, in health care settings, the transmission is much more efficient. In 2017, MERS outbreaks were largely prevented or controlled.”

He explained that this was achieved through implementation of strict infection-control measures including triage of patients in emergency rooms and hemodialysis units, early detection and isolation of suspected MERS cases, and adherence to hand hygiene and the proper use of protective equipment.

“Trials on therapeutic agents are ongoing and the progress in developing a camel vaccine is encouraging. The animal vaccine will probably be the most effective way to control the disease,” Assiri said.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Rahman, infection control consultant, stated that awareness among health care workers was vital.

He also advised caution when dealing with camels, as some are intermediary incubators of the virus, again stressing the need for proper hand hygiene and protective clothing. Camel milk should be boiled before drinking, he warned, adding, “There’s no vaccine or specific treatment for MERS.”

Meanwhile, five new H5N8 avian flu cases were announced on Friday in Riyadh, Ahsa and Al-Duwadmi, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said.

Field teams in Kharj, Hiraimla, Dharma, Ahsa, Buraidah, Bikairiyah, and Al-Duwadmi have tracked and culled infected birds, while the Riyadh-based Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory has so far received 2,449 samples during the latest outbreak of the H5N8 virus.

Last week, the ministry banned all poultry farms and bird breeders from transporting live birds between different regions of the Kingdom unless they have the necessary permits.

A shipment of 640 birds being smuggled from Jeddah to Madinah, and a similar shipment being transported from Riyadh to Makkah, were seized this week.

Violators of the bird transport ban will reportedly receive a fine of up to SR1 million ($267,000) and a maximum of five years in prison. Their licenses will be suspended or canceled, the ministry said.


TN on high alert as K’taka reports bird flu outbreak [Times of India, 7 Jan 2018]



Erode/Krishnagiri: Days after bird flu outbreak was reported in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu animal husbandry department on Saturday set up temporary check posts on the state border to spray disinfectants on vehicles from the neighbouring state.

Bird flu (H5 avian influenza) outbreak was reported at Dasarahalli village near Bengaluru in Karnataka a couple of days ago. Though there is no outbreak in Tamil Nadu, animal husbandry officials sounded an alarm to poultry farmers in the state.

Following this, Krishnagiri and Erode district administrations urged district animal husbandry department officials to set up temporary check posts at Jujuwadi near Hosur in Krishnagiri and Bannari near Sathyamangalam in Erode.

"We have started spraying disinfectants on all the vehicles coming from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu," said a senior official from animal husbandry department in Erode. Officials at the check posts have also been instructed to check trucks laden with poultry products such as corn, ground-nut and soya cakes from Karnataka without any fail as they are the main food for the chickens in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, poultry farmers in Namakkal district, the poultry hub of Tamil Nadu, have started to follow bio-security methods in their farms. "We are not worried about the outbreak of bird flu in Karnataka," said M Velusamy Gounder, a poultry farmer.


KARNATAKA Bird flu: Pilikula park on alert [The Hindu, 6 Jan 2018]

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Chicken feed for animals has been banned, disinfectant sprayed in enclosures

Pilikula Biological Park here is on alert in view of reports on bird flu in Bengaluru.

Chicken feed to animals in the park has been banned since three days as a precaution, according to H. Jayaprakash Bhandary, director of the park.

Visitors to the zoo now have to dip their feet in a disinfectant solution. In addition, care takers at the zoo are applying disinfectants on their hands before entering the enclosures of birds and animals. Disinfectant solutions are being sprayed in enclosures as well. Bird droppings, faecal matters of animals are analysed frequently, he said.

Mr. Bhandary said now animals are being fed with meat and not chicken.

New enclosure

A new wall-glass display enclosure for a pair of Asiatic lions in the park has been built at an estimated cost of Rs. 27 lakh. Spread over 6,000 sq. ft. it has been sponsored by the Indian Oil Corporation.

Asiatic lions are rare and endangered. The zoo has a 10-year-old male lion and an eight-year-old lioness brought from Gujarat. Visitors to the park can now see them in the new enclosure. The wall-glass structure prevents visitors from teasing the beasts. The pair is housed in animal house during the night.


CHP notified of human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Fujian [satPRnews (press release), 6 Jan 2018]

CHP notified of human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Fujian

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) last night (January 5) received notification of an additional human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Fujian from the National Health and Family Planning Commission, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
 
 The case involved a three-year-old girl, who had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms. The patient had recovered after medical treatment and her close contacts remain asymptomatic.

“Based on the seasonal pattern of avian influenza viruses, their activity in the Mainland is expected to increase in winter. The public should avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings and should not visit live poultry markets and farms to prevent avian influenza,” a spokesman for the CHP said.

From 2014 to date, 18 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by the Mainland health authorities.

“All novel influenza A infections, including H5N6, are notifiable infectious diseases in Hong Kong,” the spokesman said.

Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms. They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.

Travellers returning from affected areas should consult a doctor promptly if symptoms develop, and inform the doctor of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases. It is essential to tell the doctor if they have seen any live poultry during travel, which may imply possible exposure to contaminated environments. This will enable the doctor to assess the possibility of avian influenza and arrange necessary investigations and appropriate treatment in a timely manner.

While local surveillance, prevention and control measures are in place, the CHP will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.

The CHP’s Port Health Office conducts health surveillance measures at all boundary control points. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks on inbound travellers. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up.

The display of posters and broadcasting of health messages in departure and arrival halls as health education for travellers is under way. The travel industry and other stakeholders are regularly updated on the latest information.

The public should maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene and take heed of the advice below if handling poultry:

・Avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings;

・When buying live chickens, do not touch them and their droppings. Do not blow at their bottoms. Wash eggs with detergent if soiled with faecal matter and cook and consume the eggs immediately. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chickens and eggs;

・Eggs should be cooked well until the white and yolk become firm. Do not eat raw eggs or dip cooked food into any sauce with raw eggs. Poultry should be cooked thoroughly. If there is pinkish juice running from the cooked poultry or the middle part of its bone is still red, the poultry should be cooked again until fully done;

・Wash hands frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, before handling food or eating, and after going to the toilet, touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing; and

・Wear a mask if fever or respiratory symptoms develop, when going to a hospital or clinic, or while taking care of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms.


The public may visit the CHP’s pages for more information: the avian influenza page, the weekly Avian Influenza Report, global statistics and affected areas of avian influenza, the Facebook Page and the YouTube Channel.


Outbreak of bird flu in Karnataka; Maharashtra border districts on alert [The Indian Express, 6 Jan 2018]

by Anuradha Mascarenhas

Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Commissioner Kantilal Umap, however, assured that the situation was being monitored and “there was no need for alarm”.

bird-flu-7591 by Anuradha Mascarenhas.jpg
At the state headquarters of the department in Pune on Friday, officials were busy trying to secure more information from districts located along the Karnataka border. (Representational image)

Officials of the Maharahstra Animal Husbandry Department have been put on alert along districts near the Karnataka border after an outbreak of H5 avian influenza was reported at Dasarahalli village in Bengaluru Urban district. Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Commissioner Kantilal Umap, however, assured that the situation was being monitored and “there was no need for alarm”.

At the state headquarters of the department in Pune on Friday, officials were busy trying to secure more information from districts located along the Karnataka border. “It has been confirmed that samples from a poultry shop had tested positive for the H5 avian influenza at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal,” an official said.

“We already have surveillance centres in these districts… we will hold a video conference on Saturday and direct the officials to remain vigilant,” said Additional Commissioner, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dr D M Chavan. The state government will hold meetings with animal husbandry department officers in Kolhapur, Solapur, Sangli, among other districts, added Chavan.

A decision on whether teams should be sent to these districts, among other issues, will be taken soon, said Umap. “There are guidelines in place to protect poultry from diseases and we will further strengthen our surveillance,” he added.

In 2006, Maharashtra had reported the first case of H5 avian influenza in Nandurbar and Jalgaon districts, and over nine lakh birds had to be culled to control the spread of the infection.

“We have not had any major cases since then and sporadic incidents have remained under control,” said Umap.

While containment operations are underway in Karnataka, a two-member central team from the Department of Animal Husbandry has been sent to Bengaluru to oversee and assist in the operation.


Avian flu leads to culling of 10,000 birds at Taiwan chicken farm [Taiwan News, 6 Jan 2018]

By Juvina Lai

The disease was discovered after 12,500 chickens died at once

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- According to the statement released by Yunlin County's Animal and Plant Disease Control Center on Friday, a chicken farm in the county has been identified to be infected with a subtype of the H5 avian influenza virus which has led to the slaughtering of 10,461 birds as a preventive measure to stop the disease from spreading.

As reported by the Central News Agency (CNA), Cheng An-kuo (鄭安國), an official with the center, said it had received a notification about abnormal deaths of an estimated 12,500 chickens at the county's Dongshih Township. The center collected the tissue sample for laboratory checks, which confirmed the presence of avian flu.

This is reportedly the second time that authorities had to take measures such as the culling of large number of birds together as a way to prevent the disease from spreading, according to the data released by the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA).

On Monday, a similar case was reported in the county's Yuanchang Township where 15,239 birds were culled as a result of the avian flu.

Cheng said that such cases reach a peak during January to April when the weather is relatively cooler and urged farmers to be more careful with the breeding of the birds. He advised farmers to be attentive and to report any curious cases to authorities without any delay to reduce the risk of possible spreading of the disease.

Cheng also mentioned that the general public did not have to worry about the situation as preventive measures have already been taken to make sure none of the affected chickens make it to the consumer market.


H5N6 avian influenza confirmed in Fujian province, China child [Outbreak News Today, 6 Jan 2018]

by ROBERT HERRIMAN

For the first time since last November, Chinese health authorities are reporting a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6). The patient was a three-year-old girl from Sanming City (三明市), Fujian province (福建省) who had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms.

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Public domain image/Joowwww via wikimedia commons
The patient had recovered after medical treatment and her close contacts remain asymptomatic.

The case was confirmed positive for H5N6 avian influenza via nucleic acid testing and is the first such case recorded in Fujian province, according to the Fujian Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission- PHFPC (computer translated).

From 2014 to date, 18 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by the Mainland health authorities.

Avian influenza (AI) is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. These AI viruses are distinct from human seasonal influenza viruses.

Since the AI viruses does not commonly infect human, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. People mainly become infected with AI through direct contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead), their droppings or contaminated environments.


Bird flu outbreak prompts Saudi Arabia to ban poultry imports from the Netherlands [Arab News, 6 Jan 2018]

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Tracy Otterson puts avian influenza samples in the centrifuge to clean them up before moving to extraction, in this file photo taken on April 8, 2015 at the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. (AP)

by RASHID HASSAN

RIYADH: The outbreak of an avian influenza prompted the Kingdom to temporarily ban imports of poultry products from the bird flu-affected Netherlands.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced that a temporary ban is in place on the import of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Flevoland, the Netherlands due to the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza reported in the area.

The H5N1 virus occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly in domestic poultry.

The decision to ban poultry imports from the country in northwestern Europe is based on a warning issued by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Commenting on the ban, Sanad Al-Harbi, director general of the Department of Animal Risk Assessment, said that the ban is based on the warning bulletin issued by the OIE on the emergence of the pathogenic avian influenza.

Notably, the OIE is an inter-governmental organization which coordinates and supports animal disease control, and cautions governments on outbreaks in different parts of the world.

Such bans are periodically reviewed and lifted when the situation returns to normal, the ministry sources said.

The Kingdom, the second-largest importer of chicken broiler meat in the world, previously imposed similar bans on poultry imports from countries experiencing bird flu outbreaks.

These bans were lifted when the situation improved to be normal when the countries were free of bird flu.


Bird flu: Pilikula park on alert [The Hindu, 6 Jan 2018]

6MNENCLOS Bird flu- Pilikula park.jpg
A new display enclosure built for Asiatic lions at the park. | Photo Credit: Supplied

Chicken feed for animals has been banned, disinfectant sprayed in enclosures
Pilikula Biological Park here is on alert in view of reports on bird flu in Bengaluru.

Chicken feed to animals in the park has been banned since three days as a precaution, according to H. Jayaprakash Bhandary, director of the park.

Visitors to the zoo now have to dip their feet in a disinfectant solution. In addition, care takers at the zoo are applying disinfectants on their hands before entering the enclosures of birds and animals. Disinfectant solutions are being sprayed in enclosures as well. Bird droppings, faecal matters of animals are analysed frequently, he said.

Mr. Bhandary said now animals are being fed with meat and not chicken.

New enclosure

A new wall-glass display enclosure for a pair of Asiatic lions in the park has been built at an estimated cost of Rs. 27 lakh. Spread over 6,000 sq. ft. it has been sponsored by the Indian Oil Corporation.

Asiatic lions are rare and endangered. The zoo has a 10-year-old male lion and an eight-year-old lioness brought from Gujarat. Visitors to the park can now see them in the new enclosure. The wall-glass structure prevents visitors from teasing the beasts. The pair is housed in animal house during the night.



SAUDI ARABIA Dammam bird market shut down as bird flu precautionary measure [Arab News, 6 Jan 2018]

by Sultan Al-Mahdi

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DAMMAM: The Eastern Province secretariat has shut down the central bird market in Dammam at 7:00 a.m. Friday morning as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of bird flu, SPA reported.

The secretariat also banned birds around the areas in which bird vendors commonly gather.
Teams were formed to clear the area in which the traditional bird market is held on Fridays on King Saud St. in the central region of Dammam.

Around 324 street vendors selling birds, animals, feed, cages, and other pet accessories have been shut down, and 1.5 tons of different materials and 465 different packages have been cleared and sent to charities before cleaning the site.

The teams formed for this purpose included Central Dammam municipality, the Eastern Province police, the Department of Safety and Security, and the secretariat’s department of hygiene.

Everyone at the market was informed of the need to immediately leave the area, and vendors were instructed to stop selling right away, take their birds and animals, leave the place, and not gather again in the future.


Avian flu: Sanitation of infected area begins [The Hindu, 5 Jan 2018]

by Chitra V Ramani

The Department of Animal Husbandry, on Friday, took up sanitation measures at Dasarahalli where one country chicken tested positive for the H5 strain of avian flu.

Senior officials told The Hindu that personnel have been spraying sodium hypochlorite in a one-km radius of the shop. This will continue on Saturday. Cages in poultry shops will be torched with a flame gun.

“After the sanitation is completed, we will begin collection of the post-op samples for another round of testing,” said officials.


As H5N6 hits more poultry, researchers test threat of earlier strain [CIDRAP, 5 Jan 2018]

By Lisa Schnirring

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Juhan Sonin / Flickr cc

Over the past few days, South Korea reported three more highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza outbreaks, including the first of the season on a layer chicken farm and the first in Gyeonggi province, which surrounds the country's capital city, Seoul.

In research developments, two different groups that conducted lab experiments to gauge the threat of H5N6 to mammals and poultry found that the virus doesn't easily spread by the airborne route among ferrets, though it can infect ducks, chickens, and mice, and can cause severe disease in mice, which may signal a threat to other mammals.

H5N6 strikes chickens near Seoul

South Korea's agriculture ministry reported the three new H5N6 outbreaks in reports today and Jan 3 to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). One began on Jan 1 at a broiler duck farm in South Jeolla province, which led to the culling of 8,300 susceptible ducks.

Of the two other outbreaks detailed in a separate report, one began Jan 2 at a layer farm in Gyeonggi province and another started on Jan 4 at a parent duck farm in South Jeolla province. Between the two locations, the virus killed 66 of 218,700 susceptible birds, with the remaining ones destroyed to curb the spread of the disease.

It's not clear if the strain detected in the three latest outbreaks is the new reassortant recently identified for the first time in South Korea, which was then reported from a handful of other countries.

H5N8 in Saudi Arabia

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has reported 19 more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks over the past few days, according to an agriculture ministry statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.

Most occurred in different parts of Riyadh province in central Saudi Arabia, but one was reported from Jeddah, located in in the far west of the country.

Saudi Arabia reported its first H5N8 outbreak toward the end of December in Riyadh, and since then, the virus has quickly spread to poultry in other parts of the country.

H5N6 transmission in lab animals

The highly pathogenic H5N6 strain that has triggered outbreaks in some Asian countries and a limited number of human infections in China doesn't appear to pose an airborne threat, based on newly reported lab studies on ferrets, an international research team led by Erasmus University in the Netherlands reported in the Jan 3 edition of mSphere.

They found the virus has only one of three genetic markers that have been shown to allow H5N1 to spread by the airborne route, which the team said might explain the lack of airborne transmission in their experiments with ferrets.

When the animals were inoculated with the virus intranasally, H5N6 replicated at high titers in respiratory tracts where ferrets excreted the virus for about 6 days. Intratracheal inoculation resulted in severe pneumonia.

They concluded that H5N6 causes more severe disease in ferrets than other H5 viruses of the same clade (2.3.4.4), but so far the risk from airborne spread is currently low and for now isn't a direct public health threat. However, they noted that the increasing diversity of the H5 viruses requires regular risk assessments.

Meanwhile, another research team from China investigated highly pathogenic H5N6 isolated from three healthy wild birds in southern China in 2014 and 2015, focusing on the threat to birds and mammals. They reported their findings yesterday in the Journal of Infection. Birds that yielded the strains included a magpie robin, a common moorhen, and a sandgrouse.

After testing the pathogenicity of the viruses in ducks, chickens, and mice, they found that ducks can asymptomatically carry and shed the virus, and H5N6 can efficiently infect, transmit among, and kill chickens. Also, the viruses were highly pathogenic in mice.

The findings they saw in ducks suggest that, given overlapping habitats, they could play a key role in circulating the virus between poultry and wild birds and that wild birds could spread the virus to poultry along their flyways, presenting a threat to the poultry industry.

A H5N6 virus isolated in 2015 was more deadly to the animals than the other two that were collected in 2014, raising the possibility that H5N6 viruses could be becoming more lethal.

"Therefore, it is necessary to vigilantly monitor H5N6 HPAIVs (highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses) in wild birds and poultry," they wrote.


Disease control director promises safety at Pyeongchang 2018 [Insidethegames.biz, 5 Jan 2018]

By Daniel Etchells

The director of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), Jeong Eun-kyeong, has pledged that the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be safe and free of infectious diseases.

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The KCDC, which is part of South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare, has operated an Olympic Task Force since September with the aim of preventing and effectively responding to all kinds of contagious diseases that may spread in the home nation or which may come in from other areas of the world during Pyeongchang 2018.

"We're sparing no effort to make next year's Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games a sporting event that is free of infectious diseases and where you can feel safe," Jeong told Korea.net.

"Come visit Korea with no worries in 2018.

"To make the Pyeongchang Games as safe as possible, we've established a system of dealing with potential diseases of all kinds through a whole-scale process of inspection, diagnosis, epidemiological investigations and patient management.

"We're doing our best so that anyone from anywhere in the world can come visit Korea at ease."

Jeong's pledge comes at a time when concerns around the spread of bird flu remain prevalent.

Earlier this week, a chicken farm in Gyeonggi Province, located 77 kilometres from Pyeongchang, reported a suspected case of avian influenza.

Yonhap reports that it has prompted quarantine officials to impose a temporary ban on poultry transportation in the region.

The farm in Pocheon reported that about 30 birds have died since Tuesday (January 2).

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the preliminary test showed that they were infected with avian influenza.

In order to prevent further spread of the highly-contagious virus, the Government intends to cull all remaining chickens and conduct inspections into farms within 3km of the affected region.

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Farmers in areas close to venues due to be used at Pyeongchang 2018 have previously been urged by local officials to cull all poultry [コピーライト]Getty Images

In November, farmers in areas close to venues due to be used at Pyeongchang 2018 were urged by local officials to cull all poultry in an attempt to prevent the spread of bird flu.

An outbreak of the disease was confirmed at a duck farm in North Jeolla province, located 214km from Pyeongchang, and forced authorities to act to ensure it does not reach cities which are set to host Winter Olympic and Paralympic events.

Officials are hoping to contain the spread to avoid the possibility of an outbreak during the Games, which would be seen as an embarrassment for organisers and South Korea.

A Government official in Gangneung told the Korea JoongAng Daily that there would be "serious consequences" if avian flu did break out during the Olympics.

Jeong says that when Pyeongchang 2018 begins next month, the KCDC will dispatch an on-the-spot response team, as well as epidemiologic investigators, while running an emergency station 24 hours a day to immediately deal with any outbreak of any disease.

"As we expect a massive influx of visitors from around the world before and during the Olympic Games, we require all visitors to go into quarantine that detects any abnormal heat in their body temperature, in an effort to prevent infections from coming in," she told Korea.net.

"We also require those who travel here from countries that are highly exposed to any infectious diseases that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated as requiring monitoring, that they fill in a health questionnaire so that we can figure out any related symptoms with each traveller or athlete.

"We'll also look into diseases that have broken out in each participating country and share those results with medical institutions here.

"When visitors from each country show any certain symptoms upon their arrival, we'll put an inspection and diagnosis system into operation to swiftly detect any further symptoms or signs.

"In addition to all this, efforts will be made to promote how to deal with infectious viruses, and we'll run a #1339 hot line to receive patients."


Flu map of Britain shows worst hit areas as Australian flu spreads [Metro, 5 Jan 2018]

by Richard Hartley-Parkinson

The number of people suffering from flu has more than doubled compared to the same period last year, increasing pressure on hospitals, new figures show.

So far 48 people have died as a result of the bug, a rise from the 23 recorded last week.

A map reveals the worst hit areas of the UK with the Plymouth and Belfast areas ranking the highest with 54 cases reported in the last three weeks.

The FluSurvey map reveals that Doncaster has had eight new cases in the last three weeks, but there are fears that the number of cases could be significantly higher.

Around 46 Scots in every 100,000 were suffering from the virus during the last week in December 2017, up from 22 in every 100,000 for the same week in 2016, according to latest Health Protection Scotland (HPS) data.

Early testing also found that just over half of the circulating strains of flu match those in the 2017/18 vaccine.

How to treat the flu

To help you get better more quickly:

・rest and sleep

・keep warm

・take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains

・drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)

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 A map reveals the worst-hit areas of the country with Plymouth ranking the highest (Picture: Metro/ flusurvey)

The HPS report also highlights that around half of NHS Boards are reporting significant ward pressure as a result of the virus.

A&E attendance in week ending December 24 was up almost 20% on the same period the previous year, while the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24 also reported rises in call volume

Health Minister Shona Robison said: ‘Health staff across Scotland are dedicated to helping patients and are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. These figures show once again the challenges they are tackling.

‘So far the vaccine is proving to be effective against the most commonly encountered flu strains this season although it is still too early to have a complete picture, but there’s no doubt that the increase in cases, particularly affecting people with complex and multiple conditions, is putting increased pressure on our systems.

‘This is contributing to a big rise in demand for NHS services that staff are responding to.’

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 Early testing also found that just over half of the circulating strains of flu match those in the 2017/18 vaccine (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

She added: ‘Our £22.4m winter funding, the highest amount in any one year, will continue to be invested in boards throughout winter to help them cope with pressures. Scottish Government ministers, clinicians and senior officials are continuing to monitor the situation closely and keep in contact with boards to fully understand and assist with the pressures they are under.’

On Wednesday it emerged that NHS Lanarkshire is redeploying office staff to help at hospitals and GP surgeries amid soaring demand for A&E services across the country.

The health board is also one of several across Scotland that has been forced to temporarily postpone elective or non-urgent procedures due to the increased pressure on services.

Ms Robison said: ‘It is important for patients to be aware that while health boards continue to take all appropriate steps


Avian flu in India: Officials alert residents after death of chicken in Bengaluru [Financial Express, 4 Jan 2018]

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Reportedly, the chicken killed by allegedly by the virus was transported from Tamil Nadu a day before.

After eight chicken died of suspected H5N1 virus at a retail outlet in Bhuvaneshwari Nagar in Dasarahalli in Bengaluru, on December 29, the state has started an awareness campaign to implement preventive measures in the surrounding areas.

After eight chicken died of suspected H5N1 virus at a retail outlet in Bhuvaneshwari Nagar in Dasarahalli in Bengaluru, on December 29, the state has started an awareness campaign to implement preventive measures in the surrounding areas. Reportedly, the chicken killed by allegedly by the virus was transported from Tamil Nadu a day before. The BBMP said that the birds died of avian flu or H5N1 virus and the tests were done at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal. According to Times of India, the results were known late on Tuesday after which the awareness programme began. According to Deccan Chronicle’s reports, BBMP has instructed the poultry shops within one-kilometre radius to shut down to allow culling operations.

The animal husbandry and fisheries department has issued a notification declaring that 1-10kms will be under surveillance and a kilometre near the bird infected zone has been declared as an infected zone. According to the World Health Organization, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997 and has killed nearly 60 percent of those infected.

The BBMP on Wednesday culled more than 50 chickens and buried more them near Hebbal.

The health department team visited and has also shut down many chicken shops in Yelahanka zone. The BBMP officials have always asked the residents post the avian flu scare to refrain from consuming egg products as a precautionary measure. But as per reports, the news has not daunted meat consumers from buying chicken, therefore, the sales have not been hit.

What is bird flu?

This is a type of influenza or viral infection that can infect not only birds but also other animals and humans. H5N1 is the most common form of bird flu. It’s deadly to birds and can easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier.

Symptoms in humans

Symptoms of H5N1 infection may include fever, malaise, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, abdominal pain, chest pain and diarrhoea.

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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 10 till 11 Jan 2018


Is Nevada Ready For A Public Health Disaster? [KNPR, 11 Jan 2018]

byKristy Totten

With natural disasters, come health disasters.

Is Nevada prepared? A new study by the Trust for America’s Health says no.

Half of all states are not prepared to deal with diseases, disasters and bioterrorism, and Nevada ranks among the worst – scoring 3 out of 10.

Albert Lang of Trust for America’s Health told KNPR's State of Nevada that one of the biggest problems with all states, including Nevada, is the lack of funds.

He said following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 there was an influx of funds to pay for disaster preparedness, but since the Great Recession funding has dwindled.

The funding isn't just a problem the states have. Lang said the federal government hasn't put money towards long-term planning; instead, it is shelling out money when a disaster happens.

"Instead of planning for and putting in place the kind of funding and procedures that would make that emergency supplemental funding not needed, they basically put a Band-aid on and ignore everything else," he said.

According to the report, Nevada the second lowest per-person spending in the country. Currently, it spends less than $10 per person per year on disaster preparedness.


Morning round-up, Thursday January 11 (Excerpt) [Agrimoney.com, 11 Jan 2018]

by Mike Verdin

Japan’s agriculture ministry has reported a suspected case of bird flu in western Japan, potentially marking the country’s first bird flu outbreak in poultry this winter, Reuters reported.

The ministry said chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa tested positive in a preliminary examination on Wednesday for highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The government may order all 100,000 chickens at the farm to be culled if the results of genetic tests confirm the infection later in the day.


Japan confirms bird flu has been found in livestock and now will cull 91,000 chickens [South China Morning Post, 12 Jan 2018]

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An outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu was confirmed on Thursday at a poultry farm in western Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture, according to the prefectural government, making it the first bird flu case affecting livestock in Japan this season.

The Kagawa prefectural government plans to cull around 91,000 chickens at a farm in the city of Sanuki, after genetic tests showed that they had become infected.

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The farm notified the prefectural government of a suspected bird flu case on Wednesday, saying 55 chickens in one of its poultry houses had died.

In preliminary tests, three of 11 chickens tested positive. Genetic exams on the chickens began Wednesday, and authorities confirmed their results on Thursday.

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Any movement of poultry and eggs will be restricted in a radius of 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) from the infected site and farms within its 10km (6.2 mile) radius will be banned from transporting birds and eggs out of the area.

The farm has stopped shipping chickens elsewhere and the prefectural government has cleaned the area with disinfectants.


Japan reports first suspected bird flu case in livestock this winter [The Japan Times, 11 Jan 2018]

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A man sprays antiseptic solution on a truck Thursday near a poultry farm where bird flu is suspected to have infected chickens, in Sanuki, Kagawa Prefecture. | KYODO

TAKAMATSU – A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza is suspected to have killed chickens at a poultry farm in Kagawa Prefecture, according to the prefectural government, possibly making it the first bird flu outbreak affecting livestock in the nation this winter season.

If the results of genetic tests come back positive, the Kagawa prefectural government will call for the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces to cull around 51,000 chickens on the farm in the city of Sanuki.

The farm notified the prefectural government of a suspected bird flu case Wednesday morning, saying 55 chickens in one of its 15 poultry houses had died. The facility has been raising the 51,000 chickens for meat in eight of the houses. The other seven on the farm housed no chickens.

In preliminary tests three of 11 chickens tested positive, so detailed genetic exams were ordered. If a pathogenic form of the virus is confirmed, all movement of poultry and eggs will be restricted within a radius of 3 kilometers from the infected site and farms within a 10-km radius of the site will be banned from transporting birds and eggs out of the area. The farm has stopped shipping chickens elsewhere and the prefectural government has cleaned the area with disinfectants. Regarding the genetic test, an official from the prefectural government told a new conference early Thursday that “It’s difficult at the moment to make a clear conclusion as to whether the suspected bird flu is highly pathogenic.” The prefecture will continue a detailed analysis. Based on the result, it will decide whether to conduct further testing.

After being informed of the suspected avian flu outbreak, the prefectural government on Wednesday set up a task force headed by Kagawa Gov. Keizo Hamada to deal with the situation.

The agriculture ministry has established its own team.

Agriculture minister Ken Saito called for cooperation between the central and local governments, and for all possible measures to be taken to prevent further spread of the bird flu virus.

Residents in the city and local chicken farmers alike have expressed their hope that the situation will not turn into a “serious” incident. “I never imagined that a case of influenza would occur around here,” said a noticeably anxious local resident. In response to the incident, prefectural authorities have set up seven locations where livestock related vehicles can be cleaned to lessen the chances of spreading the virus.

According to the prefecture, chicken farming is the largest livestock industry in the area. The city alone has around 5 million egg-laying chickens and 2 million chickens for consumption, which are raised on a number of local farms. It still remains a possibility that the virus was passed along by migratory birds rather than livestock, as the area contains a variety of public parks and other lakes that often host wild birds.

The business implications could be severe if the virus spreads, even for farmers outside of the city of Sanuki. “Even if you are located far from the incident you don’t know where a potential infection could come from,” said an 80-year-old chicken farmer, “I want to take extraordinary countermeasures.”

In Japan this winter, seven cases of highly pathogenic flu infection have been confirmed among wild birds, all in the western prefecture of Shimane.

There have been no reports of human bird flu infection in the country through the consumption of poultry or eggs.


Deadly Bird Flu Strain Confirmed in 2 Missouri Poultry Facilities [AG WEB, 11 Jan 2018]

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A strain of bird flu that's deadly to poultry but poses no immediate public health concern has been detected in Missouri, state agriculture officials announced Sunday.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture said in a news release that the virus was confirmed in turkeys at a grower facility in Asbury in the southwest part of the state. Preliminary tests also came back positive for the virus at a commercial turkey facility in Fortuna in the central part of the state.

Sarah Alsager, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email that it's the same highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of avian influenza that's been confirmed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Minnesota. The virus is carried by wild waterfowl that aren't sickened by it. The incubation period is about 21 days.

In an effort to "contain and eliminate the disease," the unidentified Missouri facilities that were affected have been quarantined, the release said, adding that the remaining turkeys in the "involved flocks" will be killed and won't enter the food system. It was not immediately clear how many birds were infected.

Officials also are performing surveillance and conducting testing at properties near the affected facilities to ensure the virus has not spread.

The release said the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will monitor workers who may have been exposed to the virus but describes the step as a precaution. The agency said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending a team to Missouri to assist with the response.



Bird flu hits Japan for the first time [Fellow Press, 10 Jan 2018]

Japan’s agriculture ministry on Wednesday reported a suspected case of bird flu in Kagawa prefecture, western Japan, potentially marking the country’s first bird flu outbreak in poultry this winter.

The ministry said chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa tested positive in a preliminary examination on Wednesday for highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The government may order all 100,000 chickens at the farm to be culled if the results of genetic tests confirm the infection later in the day.

The farm in question had notified the prefectural government of a suspected bird flu outbreak in the morning, saying that a total of 55 chickens in a poultry shed had died.

Japan’s last outbreak of bird flu occurred in March. Between November 2016 and March 2017, a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu, according to the ministry.


Experts decry lack of flu pandemic readiness, commitment [CIDRAP, 10 Jan 2018]

by Jim Wappes

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Yasser Alghofily / Flickr c

Armed with 1940s-vintage flu vaccine technology and supported by only anemic funding for developing truly revolutionary vaccines, the world is woefully unprepared for the next influenza pandemic, and the Trump administration is ignoring the problem, two experts wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece yesterday.

"There is no apparent effort to make [next-generation flu] vaccines a priority in the current administration. Its national security strategy published last month cites Ebola and SARS as potential bioterrorism and pandemic threats, yet makes no mention of the risk of pandemic influenza nor any aspect of critical vaccine research and development," write infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, and his book coauthor Mark Olshaker.

Osterholm is director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), which publishes CIDRAP News. He and Olshaker last year wrote Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, which details the most pressing public health threats and includes a nine-point action plan.

The urgency expressed in the commentary was echoed by other experts.

'Worst-case scenario'

In their op-ed piece, Osterholm and Olshaker point out that the infamous "Spanish flu" pandemic of 1918-19 killed 50 million to 100 million people worldwide—at a time when the globe held only a quarter of the population it now houses.

In addition, the current flu season demonstrates how disruptive even everyday seasonal flu can be.

"The next few weeks," the two write, "will highlight how ill prepared we are for even 'ordinary' flu. A worldwide influenza pandemic is literally the worst-case scenario in public health."

Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar with the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, concurs.

"The difficulties currently being experienced in handling a predictable rougher-than-usual flu season should be a wake-up call to all that we will be greatly underprepared for the infectious disease emergencies we are certain to face in the years ahead," he told CIDRAP News.

Antiquated weaponry

Outdated flu vaccines lie at the heart of the problem.

"Our current vaccines are based on 1940s research. Deploying them against a severe global pandemic would be equivalent to trying to stop an advancing battle tank with a single rifle," Osterholm and Olshaker write. "Limited global manufacturing capacity combined with the five to six months it takes to make these vaccines mean many people would never even have a chance to be vaccinated.

"The only real solution is a universal vaccine that effectively attacks all influenza A strains, with reliable protection lasting for years, like other modern vaccines."

A universal vaccine targets the "conserved" portion of influenza viruses, the parts that vary little from strain to strain. Such a vaccine would protect against not only the four strains commonly circulating during flu season in any given year but also any strains—such as H7N9 avian flu, which has caused mounting cases in China in recent years—that cause a future pandemic.

"I don't think anything else is more important for public health than developing a universal influenza vaccine," said John Barry, author of The Great Influenza, a definitive account of the 1918-19 pandemic that was said to be instrumental in building momentum for US preparedness efforts during the George W. Bush administration.

"The threat of a pandemic virus aside, a vaccine targeting conserved portions of the virus would very likely be far more effective than current seasonal vaccines, saving hundreds of thousands of lives a year," Barry says. "It makes no sense that it has not been a higher priority in past decades."

Adalja adds, "The pressing need for a universal flu vaccine, as expertly argued in the op-ed, is becoming more critical as the threat of H7N9 looms. Facing such challenges with technology that is obsolete and suboptimally effective is a recipe for disaster."

In Deadliest Enemy, Osterholm and Olshaker paint a fictitious yet chilling scenario of what an H7N9 flu pandemic could look like and how the disease would spread rapidly among today's highly mobile global population.

Lack of funding commitment

In their op-ed piece, the pair details the bleak reality of current US funding efforts.

"Although the National Institutes of Health has publicly declared developing a vaccine a priority, it has only about $32 million this year specifically for such research. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the other federal agency responsible for developing and making available new vaccines for emergency response, has in fiscal year 2017 only a single project for $43 million supporting game-changing influenza vaccines."

But together those funds total less than 8% of what the US government spends each year on developing an effective HIV vaccine, which is still a long way off.

"By contrast," Osterholm and Olshaker write, "the search for an H.I.V. vaccine—still a scientific long shot—receives $1 billion annually (which it should). We estimate that international governments, vaccine manufacturers and the philanthropic community must make a similar commitment to influenza vaccine research if the kind of vaccine we need is to developed in the next 10 years."

They note that eradicating smallpox in the 1970s was arguably public health's greatest accomplishment, adding, "We have the tools to potentially accomplish this with influenza, and with the stakes as high as they are, isn't it worth a Manhattan Project-scale effort to defend ourselves?"


Japan reports first suspected bird flu case in poultry this winter [Channel News Asia, 10 Jan 2018]

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s agriculture ministry on Wednesday reported a suspected case of bird flu in Kagawa prefecture, western Japan, potentially marking the country’s first bird flu outbreak in poultry this winter.

The ministry said chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa tested positive in a preliminary examination on Wednesday for highly pathogenic avian influenza. The government may order all 100,000 chickens at the farm to be culled if the results of genetic tests confirm the infection later in the day.

The farm in question had notified the prefectural government of a suspected bird flu outbreak in the morning, saying that a total of 55 chickens in a poultry shed had died.

Japan’s last outbreak of bird flu occurred in March. Between November 2016 and March 2017, a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu, according to the ministry.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Source: Reuters


Eleven districts along state border on bird flu alert [The Asian Age, 11 Jan 2018]

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The suspected infection has been traced about 500km from the Maharashtra border. (Representational image)

Nearly 7,000 samples were inspected at the Pune-based National Institute for Virology (NIV) laboratory and none of them tested positive.

Mumbai: Eleven districts of Maharashtra have been put on alert for bird flu after a reported outbreak of the avian influenza virus in some areas of neighbouring Karnataka. However, state animal husbandry department officials confirmed that nearly 7,000 samples were inspected at the Pune-based National Institute for Virology (NIV) laboratory and none of them tested positive.

Health officials have been asked to raise awareness in poultry farms in districts of Maharashtra that border Karnataka i.e. Nanded, Sangli, Osmanabad, Latur, Kolhapur and Solapur; and look for possible cases of infection. Dr Satish Pawar, director, Directorate of Health Services, told The Asian Age, “We have no such threat in our state but as a precaution, we need to be on alert. We have asked certain districts to be vigilant as they share a common boundary with villages in Karnataka. The suspected infection has been traced about 500km from the Maharashtra border.”

An official of the state animal husbandry department said, “The NIV has been roped in to analyse infections and outbreak. We have issued instructions for effective implementation of these measures by the poultry industry.”


Dangerous outbreak of bird flu in Iraq [Kurdistan24, 10 Jan 2018]

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq has reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu strand, prompting the government to cull thousands of birds in a bid to stop the disease from spreading in the country.

According to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the virus was discovered at a farm in Diyala province at the end of 2017. The avian influenza strain H5N8 killed 7,250 birds before Iraqi officials culled the remaining 35,750, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture reported.

The birds showing symptoms of bird flu in the country will simply be killed, not medicated, according to the ministry. They have also indicated they will impose stricter measures to restrict the movement of live poultry in Iraq.

Bird flu virus returned to Iraq in 2016, the first occurrence of the disease in 10 years. At the time, hundreds of thousands of birds were put down as part of protection measures.

Despite the province of Diyala having been liberated from the Islamic State (IS), the area still suffers from instability as reconstruction efforts have yet to gain momentum. Remaining IS militants and lack of infrastructure and basic services impede the full return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the area.

Baghdad had banned the sale of chickens from the Kurdistan Region in the center and south of Iraq in 2016 after two cases of bird flu in Duhok were discovered.

Bird flu, which has affected some 50-some countries, including neighboring countries like Iran, has forced the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to ban chicken products from certain countries.


Saudi MEWA Reports 4 New Cases Of H5N8 [Avian Flu Diary, 10 Jan 2018]

#13,052

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After reporting no new detections in yesterday's report, the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture (MEWA) is back today with 4 new cases found over the past 24 hours.

All of today's reports come from within Riyadh Province.

Registration (4) New bird flu infections (H5N8)


23/04/1439

The Ministry continues to work with the relevant authorities to contain the outbreak of H5N8. Four new cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours among the birds in Riyadh, Thadig and Aflaj districts. One poultry project in Thadak governorate.


While the veterinary teams in the field of Makkah, Al-Kharj, Huraila, Al-Ahrama, Al-Ahsa, Buraidah, Bekairiya, Al-Dawadmi, Hawatah Bani Tamim, Al-Aflaj and Thadak follow the procedures for safe disposal of birds in a number of traditional breeding areas in the areas where the infection was detected and declared. Control at those sites and investigate the disease in the vicinity of the infection sites with a radius of 5 km.


On the side of laboratory diagnosis, the Ministry of Veterinary Laboratories received 2877 samples to be tested for this disease, all of which were completed. The samples were collected on the basis of citizen communications and epidemiological survey procedures in the vicinity of infected and non-infected areas to detect any new sick spots early in the Kingdom. Different.


The Ministry is also continuing to implement procedures to prevent the movement of live birds without issuing a prior permission to transport. The Ministry calls upon the owners of birds and project owners to comply with the ministry's decision to prevent movement between the regions without the prior permission of the ministry, as previously announced. 51, 52) of the Executive Regulations of the Livestock Law promulgated by Royal Decree No. M / 13 dated 10/3/1424 H on the right of violators of the decision banning the movement of live birds.


The ministry said that the toll free number of the Central Information and Emergency Unit for Livestock (8002470000) is available 24 hours a day to answer queries, provide guidance to bird breeders in ways that protect them against disease and receive reports of suspected cases of individuals or productive projects. In the past 24 hours, nineteen communications have been received, while the number of inquiries about the disease has reached 17, thus bringing the total number of communications and inquiries (1366) to the question and inquiry since the beginning of the discovery of the disease.

In addition to veterinary awareness and guidance, the Ministry continues its efforts to raise awareness of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) in markets and gatherings in all regions of the Kingdom


Posted by Michael Coston


UK reports H5N6 in wild swans as study assesses live-bird markets [CIDRAP, 10 Jan 2018]

by Lisa Schnirring

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Andy Vernon / Flickr cc

In the latest avian flu outbreak developments, the United Kingdom reported its first detection of highly pathogenic H5N6, based on sampling from mute swans found dead, and South Korea reported another poultry farm outbreak involving the virus.

In the latest research findings, scientists who have been watching avian flu virus levels in Cambodia's live market poultry reported higher levels since their last report, along with
coinfections in the birds that pose a risk of emerging reassortant viruses.

H5N6 in England, South Korea

The UK's outbreak began on Jan 9 when three mute swans were found dead at a nature park near the city of Dorset in southwest England, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The report said the finding marked the first detection of the strain in the UK, but it's not clear if the H5N6 virus isolated from the samples is the reassortant recently detected in South Korea and a handful of other countries.

The Netherlands reported a detection of the reassortant in the middle of December. Two days ago, Germany reported its first detection of H5N6, which was found in a dead wild duck; however, it's not clear if the virus is related to the reassortant that turned up in the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, South Korea yesterday reported another H5N6 outbreak, which affected a commercial farm housing broiler ducks in South Jeolla province, which has already reported several events involving the strain.

According to an OIE notification, the outbreak began on Jan 7, killing 10 of 16,500 susceptible birds. The surviving ducks were culled.

H5N8 in Saudi Arabia, South Africa

In outbreaks involving other strains, Saudi Arabia's agriculture ministry today reported four more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks, all from Riyadh province, according to a government statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

The country reported its first H5N8 outbreak in late December in the Riyadh area, and, since then, the virus quickly spread to poultry in other parts of the country.

South Africa's health ministry yesterday reported 12 more H5N8 outbreaks that began on commercial ostrich farms between Aug 2 and Dec 4, according to a notification from the OIE.

All of the farms were in Western Cape province.

Taken together, the virus sickened 190 of 17,317 birds, which were quarantined to halt the spread of the virus.

Avian flu levels rising in Cambodian poultry

In research developments, the levels of avian influenza viruses (AIVs) in poultry in Cambodian live-bird markets (LBMs) are rising, according to the latest findings from researchers from Australia and Cambodia who have been monitoring the viruses in two of the country's markets since 2011. They detailed the new developments yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Earlier surveillance studies from Cambodia suggested the country has some of the world's highest AIV detection rates in poultry.

From February through December of 2015, each week they collected oropharyngeal and cloacal swabs from four chickens and four ducks picked randomly from two LBMs, one in Phnom Penh at the hub of poultry commerce and the other a smaller market in Takeo province.

The researchers also collected samples from carcass wash water.

They found year-round high cocirculation of H5, H7, and H9 viruses. They found influenza A viruses in 51.3% of ducks and 39.6% of chickens, and 93% of carcass wash water samples, along with coinfections—mainly involving H5 and H9 viruses—in 0.8% of ducks and 4.5% of chickens.

For comparison, in the group's 2013 study they found AIVs in 32% of ducks, 18% of chickens, and 75% of carcass wash water.

The level of coinfections is a concern, due to the risk of reassortment that could produce novel avian flu viruses that might have pandemic potential, the team wrote. "Interventions should be considered to decrease the prevalence of AIVs in LBMs to reduce the risk for emergence of novel viruses," they wrote.


Reuters Health News Summary (Excerpt) [Daily Mail, 10 Jan 2018]

Japan reports first suspected bird flu case in poultry this winter

Japan's agriculture ministry on Wednesday reported a suspected case of bird flu in Kagawa prefecture, western Japan, potentially marking the country's first bird flu outbreak in poultry this winter.

The ministry said chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa tested positive in a preliminary examination on Wednesday for highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The government may order all 100,000 chickens at the farm to be culled if the results of genetic tests confirm the infection later in the day.


Guelph professor investigating Canada's first 2 cases of dog influenza [CBC.ca, 10 Jan 2018]

By Hailey Salvian,

china っっb.jpg
 Officials say the two dogs infected were imported from South Korea, through the U.S. (Reuters)

Two dogs were imported from South Korea, where the influenza is widespread

A University of Guelph professor is assisting in the investigation of Canada's first-ever cases of a highly infectious dog influenza.

Scott Weese is a pathobiology professor at the Ontario Veterinary College based out of the University of Guelph, and he is part of an ongoing investigation of two dog influenza cases in Essex County.

The two greyhound dogs were imported to the U.S. from South Korea in December 2017, where the influenza virus, also called H3N2, is widespread. The dogs were eventually brought to Essex County, marking the first time the disease has made its way into Canada.

"It's a concern because like any flu, canine flu can spread pretty widely through the dog population," Weese told Craig Norris, host of CBC K-W's The Morning Edition.

"What we want to do is keep this contained so it doesn't get out into the general public,"

The dogs made their way to Essex County after being rescued by MotorCity Greyhound Rescue, a dog rescue group based in Detroit.

motorcity-greyhound-rescue.jpg
 Members of MotorCity Greyhound Rescue posted this photo on Facebook after helping bring greyhound dogs from South Korea to Michigan in December 2017. Two of the dogs were infected with H3N1. (Facebook/MCGRGroup)

Jennifer Valdez, vice president of the rescue organization, said the dogs were vaccinated and quarantined for three months before flying to the U.S., and eventually coming to Canada.

Thousands of infections in U.S.

Officials say two other dogs have been showing symptoms of the virus, but they have not been diagnosed.

H3N2 originated in Asia, where it is a widespread issue in some areas. The disease broke out in the U.S. in 2015 and caused thousands of infections — something Weese and his counterparts are trying to avoid in Canada.

dog-from-south-korea.jpg
 Jennifer Valdez, vice president of the rescue organization, said the dogs were vaccinated and quarantined for three months before flying to the U.S. (Facebook/MCGRGroup)

"One of the issues with monitoring dog flu, is it doesn't look any different than other cause of respiratory disease in a dog (like kennel cough)," he says about the symptoms of canine flu, which include a cough, runny nose, fever and fatigue.

"It's really non-specific, there is nothing we can look at the dog and say 'ok that dog has flu,' versus 'that dog has something else'," he said.

'No known risk to humans'

Unlike other strains of animal influenza, the chances of canine flu spreading directly from a dog to a human are very rare.

At this time, there is no known risk to humans, and canine flu has never before been found in humans unlike swine and avian flu.

Swine flu is a virus in pigs that historically broke out in humans. The virus had the ability to spread so quickly that it was declared a pandemic in 2009. Avian flu is another type of influenza that occurs in birds. It is more widespread among birds, but causes death in 50 per cent of human cases.

Weese says the only concern is the rare chance a dog with canine flu also gets infected with human flu and the two strains then come together to form a new flu that humans don't have immunity to.

Don't panic

"The fact that there are a lot of cases (of canine flu) in the U.S., and this hasn't been identified gives us some reassurance that (a new flu) is a potential concern but we aren't going to panic about it by any means," he said.

another-dog-from-south-korea.jpg
 Weese says the two dogs that are infected are being kept away from other dogs to stop the influenza from spreading. (Facebook/MCGRGroup)

Weese says combined flu strains are more typical in birds or pigs, as they are more common mixing vessels of different flu viruses.

Alternatively, cats seem to be resistant to various flu viruses and at a low risk of contracting canine flu — so your household cats are safe.

Some cats have been infected with canine flu in Asia, but Weese says it's very rare.

Protecting dogs from canine flu is similar to protecting yourself from human flu.

Here are some tips:

・If your dog is sick or looks sick, keep it home.

・If you are out with your dog and another dog is coughing or appears sick, keep your dog away from it.

・Don't touch dogs that are sick, if you do wash your hands so it doesn't transfer to your dog.

・If you are really concerned or travelling to parts where canine flu is common (U.S. or Asia), get a flu shot.


Avian Influenza: Plateau’s poultry farmers get FG’s compensation [Daily Trust, 10 Jan 2018]

By Lami Sadiq, Jos

2017_12$large_Poultry_industry.jpg


About 130 poultry farmers in Plateau State whose farms were ravaged by Avian Influenza (Bird flu) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been compensated by the Federal Government.

The Plateau State Chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), John Dasar, exclusively told Daily Trust that out of the 137 farmers affected by the disease within the three years, 130 received payment alerts in the last week of December while payment for the remaining seven was pending due to issues associated with their bank account details.
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“We have gotten their lists and the issues with the banks have been rectified so we hope that they will be paid any moment from now,” Dasar said.

He appreciated the Federal Government for paying the compensation but expressed fear that some of the farmers had incurred debt and might be scared of going back to the business.


Disinfectants sprayed on vehicles at Bannari check post [The Hindu, 10 Jan 2018]

Following reports of bird flu scare in Bengaluru, the Animal Husbandry Department stepped up its vigil at Bannari check post with disinfectants being sprayed on all poultry vehicles coming from that State.

Outbreak of the flu was reported from Dasarahalli village in Bengaluru as samples were found positive for H5 strain of avian influenza virus.

Another reason is that the Dindigul – Mysuru National Highway 948 passes through the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve and any outbreak will affect the birds and animals in STR.

A five-member team is involved in the work round the clock.

Letter to the Editor Commendable decision [The Express Tribune, 10 Jan 2018]

TURBAT: Recently, the UAE government announced a ban on poultry imports from Saudi Arabia following a reported bird flu outbreak in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. According to a report in The Express Tribune, the UAE’s ministry of climate change and environment took the measure following a notification from the Gulf Early Warning Centre of an outbreak of a ‘highly contagious’ strain of bird flu, H5N8, in Azizia market in Riyadh. It was also disclosed that the precautionary measures do not only put a ban on poultry imports but also include a ban on the import of all kinds of domestic and wildlife birds, ornamental birds, chicks, hatching eggs and non-heat-treated wastes from Saudi Arabia.

I appreciate the step taken by the UAE government to save people by putting a ban on the aforementioned goods that can cause health issues. However, I also hope that our government will also learn a lesson from the decision and prioritise public welfare over personal motives.

Bakhtiyar Phullan


From Aussie flu to French flu and NOW Japanese flu - which is worse? What is the difference? [ChronicleLive, 10 Jan 2018]

By Simon Meechan

Flu is nothing new, but it often often comes back with a new name and in the past strains have killed more than the First World War

Flu outbreaks are an annual occurrence in the North East but the bed-bounding virus comes in many forms.

This winter, it’s been Aussie flu which has put thousands of Brits out of action and is causing hospital wards to ban visitors.

In the past, we’ve had the deadly Spanish flu, the panic-striking bird flu and the infamous swine flu.

There are many different strains of flu virus, and they constantly change, which is why there are regularly new flus doing the rounds.

Thankfully, vaccines and modern health care mean influenza kills far fewer than it used to. Just 100 years ago, a very deadly strain claimed more lives around the globe than the First World War.

Spanish Flu

In 1918 brave soldiers made their way home from the front following four years of deadly conflict in France, Flanders and beyond.

But after years of brutal fighting, a flu bug was to claim more lives world wide than the First World War.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 is thought to be the worst on record. In one week, 31 died in Newcastle alone.

Around the world, between 20 and 40 million people were killed by the Spanish flu. An estimated 250,000 of the deaths were in Britain.

Asian Flu

In 1957 a new flu travelled west from Asia. The mixed-species strain, which derived from forms of avian (bird) and human flu, killed 3,550 in England and Wales by December of that year. Most killed were elderly. A vaccine was developed, and distributed in Britain by the NHS.

Hong Kong Flu

This strain killed an estimated 1m people worldwide. It originated in Hong Kong in July 1968, spreading to Europe by September, It killed an estimated 30,000 in England and Wales.

Bird Flu

Poultry-Farmer-Raises-Battery-Chickens-Amid-Bird-Flu-Scare -.jpg
Battery hens are pictured in a chicken shed on February 6, 2007 in Suffolk (Image: Getty Images)

Between 2005 and 2007 Britain braced itself for an avian flu outbreak. Otherwise known as bird flu, it does not usually affect humans, some people do get it.

Although turkeys and chickens around the country were slaughtered - notably at Bernard Matthews - the NHS says no humans in the UK have been affected.

Swine Flu

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Tamiflu was prescribed to people with Swine flu (Image: Coventry Telegraph)

In 2009 swine flu arrived in Britain. Believed to have originated from pigs in Asia, the outbreak was first recorded in Mexico. The first UK cases were found in Scotland, after a flight arrived from Central America.

Swine flu killed 209 people in Britain, although the spread was not as bad as initially feared. Many were offered Tamiflu to speed up their recovery times. Between 2006-07 and 2012-13, the Government bought nearly 40 million units of the drug.

The NHS says: “It spread rapidly from country to country because it was a new type of flu virus that few young people were immune to.

“Overall, the outbreak wasn’t as serious as originally predicted, largely because many older people were already immune to it. Most cases in the UK were relatively mild – although serious cases still occurred.

“The relatively small number of cases resulting in serious illness and death were mostly in younger adults and children – particularly those with underlying health problems – and pregnant women.”

Australian Flu

In 2017-18, a new strain arrived in Britain, H3N2, dubbed Australian flu.

So far, around 1,650 have been admitted to hospitals in Britain, diagnosed with the virus. Its symptoms and effects are similar to regular influenza, but more severe.

Although any flu can kill, experts say Aussie flu has the potential to be more lethal.

Dr Richard Pebody, acting head of respiratory diseases at Public Health England, said: “In Australia they saw excess mortality and other hospitalisations and so on due to H3N2.”

Japanese Flu

Japanese flu is the latest strain to hit the headlines. Japanese flu is less severe than Aussie flu, but children are particularly susceptible. It is group B flu, whereas the Aussie variety is group A.


How is Avian Influenza Transmitted? [Medical News Bulletin, 10 Jan 2018]

To better understand infectious diseases, researchers recently explored the factors influencing the transmission of avian influenza, or bird flu.

Several diseases transmitted from animals to humans, or zoonoses, have emerged in recent decades. Although we understand why they spread after their emergence, we fail to be proactive and understand the factors contributing to their spread in order to prevent them. A recent paper published in the Archives of Public Health uses avian influenza in China as an example to examine the factors that contribute to the transmission of infectious disease.

Changes in the Population

After emerging in China 1996, the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus began to spread to other countries, and between 2004 and 2006 it spread to 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. With an increasing number of the population living in urban settings, fewer people are able to raise their own poultry (which includes chicken and duck). This, along with a growing population, and the tendency of wealthier people to eat more animal products as a source of protein results in increased production of poultry.

Changes in Connectivity

Another key factor in the spread of H5N1 is domestic ducks. Domestic ducks are attributed to the transmission of the virus to poultry, as ducks infected with the virus often remain asymptomatic and then shed the virus. Furthermore, in China live-poultry is traded between markets hundreds of kilometres apart. Combined with the increase in production of poultry, there are many opportunities for the virus to come into contact with a lot of poultry and many humans, allowing it to spread.

In terms of wild birds, the Poyang Lake area has 75 species of wild water birds which comprise the approximately half a million water birds that use the lake. These birds are also a primary reservoir for avian influenza in the wild. A previous study that used GPS to track poultry and wild birds, and showed domestic ducks and wild water birds from the lake fed in the same surrounding area, which is largely used for rice farming, producing a possible transmission site for the viruses.

The findings of this paper, although highly specific to China, can provide a background to understanding other disease emergences such as the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome, Q-Fever, and a new H5N1 following an increase in camels in the Middle East, goats in the Netherlands, and ducks in France, respectively. Improved farming, market, and industrialization practices aimed at improving the health of the animals would be beneficial in preventing the spread of avian influenza between animals and to humans.

Written by Monica Naatey-Ahumah, BSc


Suspected bird flu case in Kagawa [NHK WORLD, 10 Jan 2018]

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Officials in Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan, say dead birds found at a local poultry farm have tested positive for bird flu in a preliminary check.

The officials received a report from the farm in Sanuki City on Wednesday that 55 chickens had been found dead.

Preliminary tests showed that 3 out of 11 samples were positive for the type-A strain of the flu virus.

The firm has since stopped moving its chickens, and officials are conducting further testing.

If infections are confirmed, the officials will cull 51,000 birds at the farm and carry out tests at 8 other farms within a 3-kilometer radius.


Japan: avian influenza [poultrymed, 10 Jan 2018]

Japan's agriculture ministry reported a suspected case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Kagawa prefecture, western Japan. 100,000 chickens are present at the farm.

Japan's last outbreak of avian influenza occurred in March. Between November 2016 and March 2017, a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of avian influenza, according to the ministry of agriculture.


First Suspected Bird Flu Case in Poultry This Winter Reported in Japan [The Epoch Times, 10 Jan 2018]

By Tom Ozimek

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A chick is pictured in this stock image. (Pixabay / CCO)

The winter’s first bird flu outbreak in Japan has been reported by the country’s agriculture ministry, according to a Reuters report.

The ministry announced on Wednesday, Jan. 10, that a suspected case of bird flu has been reported in Kagawa prefecture, western Japan.

If confirmed, this marks Japan’s first bird flu outbreak in poultry this winter.

According to Reuters, the ministry said that some chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa tested positive in a preliminary examination on Wednesday for avian influenza, a highly pathogenic strain of the virus.

There are 100,000 chickens at the farm and all may be ordered culled.

A decision on whether to proceed with the cull will be based on the results of genetic tests expected later on Wednesday.

55 chickens had been found dead at the farm, and the authorities were notified of a suspected bird flu outbreak on the morning of Jan. 10.

Japan’s last outbreak of bird flu took place in March 2017.

Between November 2016 and March 2017, a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu, according to the ministry, Reuters reported.

The risk to humans of contracting the H5N6 bird flu virus is very low, according to WHO.

The first reported case of H5N6 virus in humans was in China in May 2014. A 49-year-old man with a poultry farm in Sichuan Province died from severe pneumonia caused by the virus. WHO said he was likely infected by sick birds on his farm.

Some strains of avian influenza can infect humans, usually in cases where they were exposed to infected birds. While some infections are fatal, many are mild and even subclinical in humans, says WHO.

Patients who are infected can show symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, eye infections, and in worse cases, pneumonia, and respiratory diseases, and other severe complications.

To most people the risk of contracting bird flu is very low, and it won’t occur if poultry and eggs are properly handled.

Juliet Song contributed to this article.


11 Maharashtra districts on alert for bird flu: Symptoms of H5N1 virus in humans; prevention tips [Times Now, 9 Jan 2018]

flu 11 Maharashtra districts on alert for bird flu- Symptoms of H5N1 virus in humans; prevention tips.gif
 Representational image | Photo Credit: Indiatime

Bengaluru: Eleven districts in Maharashtra have been put on alert for bird flu after the neighbouring state, Karnataka, reported an outbreak of the avian influenza virus, according to reports.

After eight chickens died of suspected bird flu on December 29, the Karnataka health and family welfare department had on last Wednesday started awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of the H5N1 virus in the surrounding areas.

Samples sent for testing to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, confirmed that the birds died of avian flu or H5N1 virus, as per a report in The Times of India.

As many as 900 fowls were culled after H5N1 virus was detected in a dead bird at a chicken shop in Dasarahalli area in Bengaluru. The chicken killed by the virus was reportedly supplied from Tamil Nadu on December 28.

"A chicken was found dead on December 29 at a chicken shop in (suburban) Dasarahalli area and it was confirmed after lab tests that the bird was infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus," Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Joint Commissioner S Nagaraju told IANS.
"On orders from the Animal Husbandry Department, we have culled a total of 900 birds so far within the region where the infected bird was found," he said.

As precautionary measures against the spread of bird flu infection, the Animal Husbandry Department had on Tuesday declared an area of 1km radius of Bhuvaneshwari Nagar in Dasarahlli - from where the birds were found dead - as the 'infected zone' and an area of 10km radius as the 'surveillance' zone. It also ordered meat shops in the infected region to be shut down. Read: Winter ailments - 10 Indian spices to ward off common respiratory infections

Following the bird flu scare, zoo authorities in Mysuru and Karanji Lake Nature Park have also initiated steps as a precautionary measure.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that primarily infects birds, including chickens, other poultry, and wild birds such as ducks. It can also infect humans and other animals.

There are many different strains of bird flu virus and most of which don't infect humans. However, two particular strains - H7N9 and H5N1 - have infected some people, causing serious health concern in recent years.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), H5N1, which is the most common form of bird fu, was first discovered in humans in 1997 and has killed nearly 60 percent of those infected. Usually, cases of H5N1 infection in humans occur through close contact with infected birds.

How does bird flu spread to humans?

Bird flu is spread to humans through direct contact with infected birds (dead or alive) – for instance, inhaling or being in contact with droplets sneezed by infected birds. H5N1 virus-infected birds spread the virus through their saliva, mucus and faeces. But, bird flu is not transmitted through cooked food.

Experts say it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked poultry as the virus is sensitive to heat and normal temperatures used in cooking can kill the virus.

What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?

H5N1 symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu and may include -

・Fever
・Sore throat
・Cough
・Runny nose
・Headaches
・Muscle or body aches
・Fatigue
・Eye redness (or conjunctivitis)
・Diarrhoea
・Respiratory illnesses

In some cases, bird flu can cause serious complications and death. So, bird flu should be treated in a hospital and may require intensive care.

How is bird flu treated?

Treatments may vary depending on the type and cause of the infection, however, in most cases, bird flu is treated with antiviral medicines to help reduce the severity of the disease. Unfortunately, at present, there is no vaccine available to treat bird flu.

How can you prevent bird flu?

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as -

・Avoid contact with infected birds (dead or alive) or surfaces that are contaminated with bird droppings.

・Avoid rural areas, small farms and open-air markets, if possible.

・Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes.

・Practise good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly.

・Talk to your doctor about a flu shot, especially if you need to visit areas where outbreaks have been reported. The vaccine won't protect you specifically from bird flu, but it may help reduce your risk of infection.

Although bird flu can infect anyone - as with seasonal flu - some people are at a greater risk of contracting H5N1. They include pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and seniors aged 65 and older.

Also, your risk of getting H5N1 is higher if you are a poultry farmer, or a healthcare worker caring for infected patients.


Get ready, some medical experts are predicting the worst flu season in history [CNBC, 9 Jan 2018]

by Bob Woods

・Medical experts are bracing for one of the worst flu seasons in history.

・The main flu strain for 2017-18 is known as the H3N2 virus, and it is more deadly than the swine flu.

・The flu is now widespread in about 46 states, reports the CDC.

・The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and other organizations are calling for the development of a universal vaccine.

Medical experts in the United States are worried that this year's flu season could be a nasty one that may be lethal. That's because this year's main flu strain, the influenza A virus, known as H3N2, is worse than the swine flu in 2009. To put it in perspective, back when the swine flu was making headlines it infected just 51,000 people in Australia. This year's H3N2 sickened over 215,000 and the illness has hit our shores. It's a situation that has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do a collaborative study with global health partners in an effort to make addressing the situation a global priority.

Reported cases in some states, like Arizona, are up more than 758 percent over this time last year, and the CDC reports the flu is in widespread conditions in 46 states, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, as of Dec. 30, 2017. To make matters worse, the flu vaccine is not proving to be very effective against this year's main strain, because of a virus mutation. In Australia it has been effective in only 10 percent of cases, reports The New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine now being administered to Americans uses the same formulation.

With news mounting of this season's flu being a particularly virulent one — evidenced by overcrowded emergency rooms and an uptick in related deaths across the country — it's eerily ironic that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 global influenza pandemic. Also known as the Spanish flu, the worldwide outbreak infected an estimated 500 million people, nearly a third of the planet's population then, and killed between 50 million and 100 million victims. More than 25 percent of the U.S. population was sickened, and about 675,000 Americans died.

While no public health officials are declaring the current flu to be a pandemic, this strain is historically more difficult to fight than others. Australia, for instance, just came through its flu season, reporting record-high numbers of cases of the same H3N2 virus and higher-than-average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

The United States is experiencing a similarly "early and robust start to this flu season," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. "It has all the markings of being a severe season."

A string of bad flu seasons has Dr. Fauci and other medical experts calling for the development of a universal influenza vaccine that would save lives. Each year, on average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu, tens of thousands are hospitalized, and between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans die from flu-related illness, according to the CDC. The flu strikes indiscriminately, but young children, the elderly and the chronically ill are most vulnerable.

Caring for the sick is costly. The CDC estimates that the flu costs the United States $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses and another $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually. A chunk of those billions is spent formulating, growing and distributing millions of doses of the annual flu vaccine, which from year to year reduces the risk of illness by 40 percent to 60 percent at best. The flu vaccine is the only one that has to be reformulated and administered every year. Most of the vaccine is grown in eggs, an arduous process that takes around six months.

The race to make a universal vaccine

The definition of a universal flu vaccine is somewhat flexible. Ideally, a single injection would protect against all known and emerging influenza A strains and last a lifetime, said Peter Palese, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. More modest proposals envision a one-shot vaccine that would protect against getting the flu for anywhere from three to 20 years.

The Avian influenza virus is harvested from a chicken egg as part of a diagnostic process in this undated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) handout image. U.S. farm and health officials are racing to assess the threat that a type of bird flu never before seen in the country poses to humans and poultry, employing emergency plans drawn up in the wake of a devastating outbreak in birds last year.
Erica Spackman | USDA | Reuters

The Avian influenza virus is harvested from a chicken egg as part of a diagnostic process in this undated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) handout image. U.S. farm and health officials are racing to assess the threat that a type of bird flu never before seen in the country poses to humans and poultry, employing emergency plans drawn up in the wake of a devastating outbreak in birds last year.

Palese's laboratory is one of three different research groups at Mount Sinai exploring a universal flu vaccine and one of numerous efforts under way mostly in academia, biotech firms and NIH. A handful of major pharmaceutical companies are supporting universal flu vaccine research, including GlaxoSmithKline; Janssen Vaccines, a division of Johnson & Johnson; and Sanofi.

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Erica Spackman | USDA | Reuters
The Avian influenza virus is harvested from a chicken egg as part of a diagnostic process in this undated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) handout image. U.S. farm and health officials are racing to assess the threat that a type of bird flu never before seen in the country poses to humans and poultry, employing emergency plans drawn up in the wake of a devastating outbreak in birds last year.

Palese's team has developed a universal flu vaccine that is now in the first phase of testing in humans, with support from GSK and the Gates Foundation. "What changes in the influenza virus from year to year is the hemagglutinin (HA)," Palese explained, "which is the major protein against which we make an immune response."

The HA comprises a head and a stalk. "When our immune system sees a flu virus, it makes antibodies against the head," he said. Palese's vaccine aims to stimulate antibodies that bind to the more "conserved" areas on the stalk and which remain the same every year and are common to most seasonal flu viruses. "We want to redirect the body's immune response to the stalk."

A different approach to the universal vaccine is under way at FluGen, a biotech firm in Madison, Wisconsin. Backed by both government and VC funding, the company is working with technology first discovered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Dr. Gabriele Neumann and exclusively licensed to FluGen. "Our vaccine, called RedeeFlu, is based on a premise that says what happens if you take a [naturally occurring] 'wild type' of flu virus and modify it to infect the human body but don't allow it to replicate and cause illness," said Boyd Clarke, executive chairman of FluGen. (Coincidentally, his maternal grandfather died in the 1918 pandemic.)

Last October, FluGen announced that it was awarded $14.4 million by the Department of Defense to conduct human clinical challenge trials with RedeeFlu. In those studies, half of the participants will be vaccinated and half will receive a placebo, but all will subsequently be infected with an influenza virus. "We want to see if the vaccine prevents illness and replication of the virus," Clarke said. "Based on pre-clinical trials, we have reason to be optimistic."

On another front, this year the Human Vaccines Project, a New York-based nonprofit consortium of academic, government and industry medical researchers, is launching the Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative. "The goal is to understand immunity to the flu and then convert that into a universal flu vaccine," said Dr. James Crowe, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and the director of UIVI. Similar to Palese's approach, UIVI is targeting the more stable stalk region of the HA protein.

Although Crowe is dedicated to the eventual discovery of a universal vaccine, he also wants to focus on improving current vaccines. "The excitement in the field is making better vaccines for strains that are killing people right now," he said. "Even modest improvements would save thousands of lives."
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 8 till 9 Jan 2018


Co-circulation of Influenza A H5, H7, and H9 Viruses and Co-infected Poultry in Live Bird Markets, Cambodia [Emerging Infectious Diseases, 9 Jan 2018]

Authored by Paul F. Horwood , Srey Viseth Horm, Annika Suttie, Sopheak Thet, Phalla Y, Sareth Rith, San Sorn, Davun Holl, Sothyra Tum, Sowath Ly, Erik A. Karlsson, Arnaud Tarantola, Philippe Dussart, and Phalla Y

Abstract

Longitudinal surveillance of 2 live bird markets in Cambodia revealed year-round, high co-circulation of H5, H7, and H9 influenza viruses. We detected influenza A viruses in 51.3% of ducks and 39.6% of chickens, and co-infections, mainly by H5 and H9 viruses, in 0.8% of ducks and 4.5% of chickens.

☞  http://doi.org/10.3201/eid2402.171360


Iraq, Afghanistan, other nations report avian flu outbreaks [CIDRAP, 9 Jan 2018]

by Lisa Schnirring

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In the latest avian flu developments, two more countries in the Middle East—Iraq and Afghanistan—reported highly pathogenic H5 outbreaks, and Germany reported its first H5N6 detection, according to separate reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Elsewhere, Bangladesh reported another outbreak involving H5N1, and South Africa recently detected H5N8 again, this time in a wild bird.

Middle East battles H5

The outbreaks in Iraq and Afghanistan come as Saudi Arabia continues its battle against the rapidly spreading H5N8 strain.

In Iraq, an outbreak involving a commercial poultry farm in Diyala province began on Dec 27, killing 7,250 of 43,000 birds. The remaining ones were culled to control the spread of the virus, the OIE reported yesterday. Diyala province is in the central part of the country.

The event is Iraq's first H5N8 outbreak since October 2016.

In other developments, Afghanistan's livestock ministry said testing on rooks that flew out of a forest near the city of Khost and died revealed highly pathogenic H5. Khost is in eastern Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan.

Rooks are members of the raven family. Of 17 birds found in the outbreak, 14 died, and 3 others were destroyed as part of the response.

In its report to the OIE, Afghanistan said the outbreak is its first since 2007.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported 16 more H5N8 outbreaks in its ongoing battle against the virus, according to government reports from Jan 7 through today translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news message board. Outbreak locations appear to include Dhurma governorate in Riyadh province, Al Ahsa and Al Kharj governorates, and Howtat Bani Tamim, a town near Riyadh.

H5N6 for first time in Germany

German veterinary officials said highly pathogenic H5N6 has been detected in a wild duck found dead on Jan 4 near the city of Dachau in Bavaria state, located in the country's southeast, according to an OIE report today.

The report said the H5N6 detection was Germany's first. It's not clear if the virus is the new reassortant found in some Asian countries, as well as the Netherlands, which reported the virus for the first time in the middle of December.

H5N1 in Bangladesh, H5N8 in South Africa

Two other countries reported more outbreaks involving different strains, H5N1 in Bangladesh and H5N8 in South Africa, according to other OIE reports.

Bangladesh's livestock ministry said an H5N1 outbreak began on Dec 15 at a farm in Dhaka division in the central part of the country. The farmers noticed sudden deaths and yellowish diarrhea in the birds. The virus killed 3,560 of 4,000 susceptible poultry, and authorities destroyed the remaining ones as part of the control measures.

The last H5N1 outbreak in Bangladesh occurred in May 2017, also affecting birds in Dhaka division.

In South Africa, where heavy H5N8 activity tapered off in November, officials reported a new detection of the virus, which involved a wild tern found dead near the city of Cape Town in Western Cape province on Dec 20.


Australian flu arrives in the UK: what are the symptoms and is there a vaccine? [The Week UK, 9 Jan 2018]

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 Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images

The people most at risk and what can be done to prevent it

First it was bird flu, then swine, and now Australian flu is latest deadly influenza to hit our shores, causing a spike in hospital admissions and mounting panic.

What are the symptoms?

The most common signs to look out for are fever, nausea, sore throat, diarrhoea and headaches.

Why is it worse than normal flu?

Despite exhibiting many of the same symptoms as your average garden-variety flu, the Influenza A virus subtype H3N2 is a much more virulent strain. According to The Guardian, “the spread of Australian flu is potentially the worst outbreak in 50 years”.

Australia, where the strain originated, has experienced its worst winter flu season in nearly a decade, with the bug blamed for more than 300 deaths. In the UK, 17 people were admitted to intensive care with Australian flu last week alone.


11 Maharashtra districts on alert for bird flu: Symptoms of H5N1 virus in humans; prevention tips [Times Now, 9 Jan 2018]

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 Representational image | Photo Credit: Indiatimes

Bengaluru: Eleven districts in Maharashtra have been put on alert for bird flu after the neighbouring state, Karnataka, reported an outbreak of the avian influenza virus, according to reports.

After eight chickens died of suspected bird flu on December 29, the Karnataka health and family welfare department had on last Wednesday started awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of the H5N1 virus in the surrounding areas.

Samples sent for testing to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, confirmed that the birds died of avian flu or H5N1 virus, as per a report in The Times of India.

As many as 900 fowls were culled after H5N1 virus was detected in a dead bird at a chicken shop in Dasarahalli area in Bengaluru. The chicken killed by the virus was reportedly supplied from Tamil Nadu on December 28.

"A chicken was found dead on December 29 at a chicken shop in (suburban) Dasarahalli area and it was confirmed after lab tests that the bird was infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus," Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Joint Commissioner S Nagaraju told IANS.

"On orders from the Animal Husbandry Department, we have culled a total of 900 birds so far within the region where the infected bird was found," he said.

As precautionary measures against the spread of bird flu infection, the Animal Husbandry Department had on Tuesday declared an area of 1km radius of Bhuvaneshwari Nagar in Dasarahlli - from where the birds were found dead - as the 'infected zone' and an area of 10km radius as the 'surveillance' zone. It also ordered meat shops in the infected region to be shut down.

Following the bird flu scare, zoo authorities in Mysuru and Karanji Lake Nature Park have also initiated steps as a precautionary measure.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that primarily infects birds, including chickens, other poultry, and wild birds such as ducks. It can also infect humans and other animals.

There are many different strains of bird flu virus and most of which don't infect humans.

However, two particular strains - H7N9 and H5N1 - have infected some people, causing serious health concern in recent years.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), H5N1, which is the most common form of bird fu, was first discovered in humans in 1997 and has killed nearly 60 percent of those infected. Usually, cases of H5N1 infection in humans occur through close contact with infected birds.

How does bird flu spread to humans?

Bird flu is spread to humans through direct contact with infected birds (dead or alive) – for instance, inhaling or being in contact with droplets sneezed by infected birds. H5N1 virus-infected birds spread the virus through their saliva, mucus and faeces. But, bird flu is not transmitted through cooked food.

Experts say it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked poultry as the virus is sensitive to heat and normal temperatures used in cooking can kill the virus.

What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?

H5N1 symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu and may include -

・Fever
・Sore throat
・Cough
・Runny nose
・Headaches
・Muscle or body aches
・Fatigue
・Eye redness (or conjunctivitis)
・Diarrhoea
・Respiratory illnesses

In some cases, bird flu can cause serious complications and death. So, bird flu should be treated in a hospital and may require intensive care.

How is bird flu treated?

Treatments may vary depending on the type and cause of the infection, however, in most cases, bird flu is treated with antiviral medicines to help reduce the severity of the disease. Unfortunately, at present, there is no vaccine available to treat bird flu.

How can you prevent bird flu?

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as -

・Avoid contact with infected birds (dead or alive) or surfaces that are contaminated with bird droppings.

・Avoid rural areas, small farms and open-air markets, if possible.

・Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes.

・Practise good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly.

・Talk to your doctor about a flu shot, especially if you need to visit areas where outbreaks have been reported. The vaccine won't protect you specifically from bird flu, but it may help reduce your risk of infection.

Although bird flu can infect anyone - as with seasonal flu - some people are at a greater risk of contracting H5N1. They include pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and seniors aged 65 and older.

Also, your risk of getting H5N1 is higher if you are a poultry farmer, or a healthcare worker caring for infected patients.


SAUDI ARABIA EP bird markets shut down over flu fears [Saudi Gazette, 9 Jan 2018]

By Mohammed Al-Abdullah

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Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has culled more than 240,000 affected birds in the two regions. — Courtesy photo

DAMMAM — The municipality of the Eastern Province has shut down the bird markets in Dammam and Qatif as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the bird flu H5N8.

The municipality said its decision was to complete the measures being taken by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in combating the virus.

It said some new cases of the flu were discovered in Tarout, Ahsa and some other areas in the province.

The bird traders welcomed the municipality's decision and said it was aimed at making sure that their birds were free of this virus which is fatal to them.

Mohammed Al-Shuwaikhat, a decorative birds trader, said the ministry's market inspections were for their own good. "The ministry teams want to make sure that our birds are immunized and are free from the virus," he said.

Habib Ashour, another bird trader, also commended the ministry's efforts aimed at stopping the spread of the bird flu.

He said they have responded favorably to the ministry's orders to evacuate the market and to halt all the selling and buying operations.

Director of environmental health at the Qatif Municipality, Dr. Karrar Al-Faraj said the bird flu type H5N8 does not spread among humans and cannot be transferred from birds to men.

He, however, asked the bird traders to take all the necessary measures that would prevent the spread of the virus among their birds.

The ministry, on the other hand, said only two cases of the flu were detected during the past 24 hours among birds in Al-Ahsa and Darmah in the Eastern Province.

The ministry said it had culled more than 240,000 affected birds in the two regions.


Dangerous Virus Spreads Across Korean Peninsula [Newschoolers, 9 Jan 2018]

by JasonBrown85

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A strong belief that the newly discovered avian influenza virus A-(H5N6) strain couldn't pose much threat to human life was common earlier. However, during the past five years, dozens of infected people were within an inch of dying.

In 2016, a massive outbreak of A-(H5N6) was recorded on poultry farms in South Korea. The authorities were forced to take radical measures by killing over 30 million birds. These actions caused a shortage of poultry meat in the country and a significant price increase.

In December 2017, A-(H5N6) has been detected recently on several duck farms in the south-west of South Korea. Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) confirmed the existence of A-(H5N6) and to prevent further spread of the disease they culled 201 thousand birds.

Despite precautions, the infection continues to spread through the whole country. In particular, the city administration distributed the leaflets with the manual of how to protect oneself from the virus. According to the leaflet, between December 2017 and March 2018 it is necessary to avoid contact with surfaces with bird excrements. Also there are parts of the city where the probability of contact with the infected birds especially high. It's easy to guess that the spreading of these leaflets tells about difficult epidemiological situation in the country.

Another reason to worry is the fact that civil services for disease control and prevention don't underperform and fall back upon military help.

The participation of military resources in infection dispersion preventing is even a greater matter of concern. According to Yonhap News Agency the South Korean military spray chemicals in order to disinfect the territory until January 2018. Territories along roads and transport hubs are the priority objectives of the Korean military. Also, the Army monitors the situation by tracking the birds’ migration and collecting soil samples for the pathogens detection. The military involvement into outbreak control tells about real situation in the country.

Nevertheless, Seoul guarantees the safety of tourists and the Olympics’ participants, as well as the readiness to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Such behavior of South Korea's officials seems to be very confusing. The concentration of hundreds of thousands of people in a confined space provides best conditions for the spread of the virus. At the same time, after having had a long flight across the planet many guests of the Olympics will be jet-lagged, and it will negatively affect their immune system. It is important to note that the biggest threat of A-(H5N6) lies in the latent circulation among people.

Various mutations occur almost unnoticed in a human body. If there’s a “meeting” of human and avian viruses, both strains mutate into a new type of a “super-virus” with the contagiousness of a common cold, and the lethality of the avian influenza.

Once having returned home, infected people will become virus’ unwilled vectors. Thus, a local outbreak of A-(H5N6) in South Korean poultry farms may turn into a pandemic comparable to the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 50-100 million people within two years.


What is bird flu? From symptoms to treatment, all you need to know about the fatal disease [International Business Times, India Edition, 9 Jan 2018]

By : Ilin Mathew

1515494450_bird-flu.jpg
Representational image

Cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai are on high alert as a bird flu outbreak has been reported in the country.

An outbreak of bird flu has been reported in Bengaluru city of Karnataka, India, five years after
an avian influenza virus scare affected the city.

The Health Department has already started taking precautionary measures. The officials are screening meat stalls in various parts of the city, including KR Market and Shivaji Nagar.

The Health Department officials have also alerted the zoo authorities near Karanji Lake Nature Park and Mysuru to take precautionary measures.

Meanwhile, the Animal Husbandry Department has sealed many of the meat stalls around Dasarahalli, wherein a dead chicken is being confirmed to be infected by the deadly virus.
A total of 11 districts in Maharashtra have also been put on high alert as the neighbouring state is being reported with an outbreak of bird flu.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu, which is also called avian influenza, is a contagious viral infection that can infect birds, humans and animals. There are three types of influenza viruses that can be deadly for both birds and humans. Among them, H5N1 is one of the most common types of bird flu that can easily affect humans.

Transmission of bird flu

Human transmission of bird flu has not been reported yet. Humans are primarily infected through contact with contaminated environments or infected animals. Poultry preparation for consumption, defeathering, slaughtering and handling carcasses of infected poultry can also cause transmission of avian influenza viruses.

Signs and symptoms of bird flu in human:

Avian influenza viral infection in human could cause various diseases ranging from gastrointestinal problems to respiratory infections. While vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea are some of the most commonly reported symptoms of H5N1, mild upper respiratory infection, acute respiratory distress syndrome, rapid progression, severe pneumonia and even shock and death can be caused due to Avian influenza.

Some of the most common initial symptoms of bird flu are high fever and cough followed by difficulty in breathing. Encephalitis, abdominal pain, chest pain and bleeding from the nose or gums are also reported by some of the patients, according to World Health Organisation.

Treatment of bird flu:

Zanamivir and oseltamivir are the two most common types of antiviral medications that can be used to reduce the severity of bird flu. However, these medications should be consumed within 48 hours after the person gets infected with the virus.

The treatment of bird flu is recommended for a minimum of five days and it could be extended depending on the clinical improvements.

Antiviral medications, such as rimantadine and amantadine, can be used to develop resistance. However, these medications cannot be used for treatment.

Prevention of bird flu:

Some of the preventive measures for bird flu include good respiratory hygiene, regular hand washing and avoiding physical contact with sick people. Bird flu can also be prevented by avoiding contact with birds in the live poultry market, slaughtering areas, poultry farms and infected people.

Consuming undercooked poultry should also be avoided to keep this fatal disease at bay. Early self-isolation is also an important part of prevention.


Bird flu virus spotted in Bengaluru, Maharashtra border on alert [Daily News & Analysis, 9 Jan 2018]

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The state machinery is on alert for bird flu after poultry was detected with the avian influenza virus in Bengaluru. The Maharashtra public health and animal husbandry departments have stepped up surveillance in border districts and cities like Pune which have links with Karnataka's capital due to the presence of IT and ITES sectors. However officials urged that there was no need for alarm and added that samples of birds taken in the state had tested negative for the virus.

"A bird flu outbreak was reported in urban Bengaluru on December 29. We have asked our machinery to be on guard in border districts like Kolhapur, Solapur, Latur and Osmanabad and surveillance is also underway. After the 2006 outbreak, we have learned a lot and guidelines are issued annually to stay prepared for the disease," said a senior official from the state animal husbandry department. He added that while over 7,000 samples from domestic poultry and other birds were taken, 5,000 had tested negative for the avian influenza virus.

"We are co-ordinating with the animal husbandry department. But for now there is no risk to Maharashtra as the area in which the virus has been isolated does not border our state. Even then, we have kept our surveillance system on alert in the border districts and cities like Pune which have linkages with Bengaluru due to the IT sector," said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer of the public health department.


MONITORING ONGOING DISEASE OUTBREAKS IN EUROPE: HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA (BIRD FLU) 2017-2018 [epic, 8 Jan 2018]

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is currently circulating in Europe, with outbreaks of disease in a number of countries. Three high pathogenic strains of Avian Influenza (AI) have been identified in the 2017/18 AI season: 1) HPAI H5N6 in England (Dorset), Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, 2) HPAI H5N8 in Russia, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria, 3) HPAI H5N2 in Russia.

On the 10th January 2018, 3 Mute Swans found in Dorset (England) tested positive for HPAI H5N6.
_________________________________________________________________________________
The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has updated the risk assessment for incursion of HPAI into the UK via wild bird movements.

Given the uncertainty in the distribution and prevalence of H5N8 in wild birds in northern Europe and the new evidence of a single outbreak with H5N6, it is appropriate to keep the risk level at “MEDIUM” for the present but keep under continuous review.

The risk for poultry remains “LOW” for introduction of infection onto individual premises, but will depend on levels of biosecurity which we recommend should be increased, particularly for seasonal fattening farms of poultry.
_________________________________________________________________________________
Scottish Government strongly recommend that all poultry keepers (including backyard keepers) review their biosecurity measures and business continuity plans now, as the risk level may well increase in the coming weeks (as at 11/12/2017).


Philippines may regain bird flu-free nation status by April–B.A.I. [Business Mirror, 8 Jan 2018]

By Jasper Y. Arcalas

The Philippines could regain its bird flu-free status by April, a month later than the government’s target date, as authorities experienced delays in sanitizing the affected farm in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija.

Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Animal Health and Welfare Division Chief Aryln Vytiaco said provincial veterinarians in Central Luzon were not able to complete the cleaning and disinfection of a farm struck by bird flu in Cabiao before Christmas.

This, she noted, pushed back the government’s timetable for notifying the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that the country is already free from avian influenza (AI).

“The critical part here is the last day of cleaning and disinfection. [Provincial veterinarians] were not able to achieve it before Christmas, so they said they would finish it before the New Year,” Vytiaco told reporters in an interview recently.

“Probably, the earliest would be the first week of April,” she said when asked about the earliest possible date for notifying the OIE.

In its report to the OIE, the BAI said 42,000 birds were affected by the bird flu that struck the Fourth District of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. Of the total population, 27,675 instantly died from the virus, while the remaining 14,325 were killed and disposed of.

Under the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the OIE, a country will only be declared free from bird flu if it would not report any outbreak within 90 days after the final disinfection of the affected areas.

The discovery of AI in a layer farm in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, reset the country’s countdown to bird flu-free status, as the government has earlier targeted to notify the OIE that the country is free from the virus as early as December 20, after the cleaning and disinfection of AI-affected farms in San Isidro and Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

Earlier, Vytiaco said the country may lose its market share for poultry products in Japan if the Philippines will not be cleared from bird flu soon.

Citing industry reports, she said Japanese importers may be forced to source its chicken imports from other countries next year to fill in the supply void left by the Philippines after it was banned from exporting poultry products to Japan.

“The cold storages have been communicating with me, and they are saying that their problem is that, if it takes us so long to be AI-free, then we may lose our market for yakitori,” Vytiaco told reporters in an interview last December.

“The Philippines is banned from exporting yakitori chicken since August. Our traditional markets for yakitori could source products from other countries like Thailand if we’re unable to resolve the AI problem,” she added.

Local poultry products were banned by Japan last August after the Philippine government confirmed that bird flu struck a poultry farm in Pampanga.

At present, Philippine poultry exports are banned in a number of countries, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. However, even before AI struck Central Luzon, Philippine chicken exports have been declining as government data indicated a double-digit drop in the volume of outbound shipments in January to July 2017.

Data from the BAI obtained by the BusinessMirror showed the country’s chicken-meat exports during the seven-month period reached 2,609.374 metric tons (MT), 12.23 percent lower than the previous year’s 2,973.064 MT. BAI data indicated that Japan was the sole buyer of chicken products exported by the Philippines during the period.


Nasty flu season isn't over yet [Windsor Star, 8 Jan 2018]

by KELLY STEELE

There have been 25 patients admitted to hospital at the Ouellette campus and four to Met with confirmed flu.

Influenza season has officially peaked in Windsor and Essex County and it’s being called one of the worst in years.

“If I had to compare a season that was this bad I would have to say during the pandemic which was H1N1 (bird flu) season 2009,” said Erika Vitale, manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Windsor Regional Hospital. “But, I would have to say this is the worse we’ve had in a long time.”

There have been 25 patients admitted to hospital at the Ouellette campus and four to Met with confirmed flu. But Vitale expects that to increase. Last year 20 people for the whole season were hospitalized with the flu virus. Public health labs only test patients who are admitted to hospital for flu, so those numbers don’t take into account all the people in the community fighting the flu at home. Flu season is expected to run until April.

“We are seeing a lot of patients admitted with respiratory symptoms that would be consistent with the flu as well as a lot of people who are testing positive for flu,” Vitale said.

Windsor Regional Hospital declared an Influenza B outbreak at its Ouellette campus last week and on Monday the Met campus reported an outbreak when two people were confirmed with Influenza B. The latest Public Health Agency of Canada Flu Watch report, which covered the last two weeks of 2017, said influenza across Canada continues to increase and is hitting those 65 and older the hardest. The report says, in Canada, 11,275 cases have been confirmed with more than 1,000 hospitalizations reported and at least 34 deaths.

Vitale said it’s unclear why the flu season has been so severe. Public health agencies won’t be able to reach any conclusions about how effective the flu vaccine was this year until around February. There has been a broad range in symptoms from people presenting with cough and fever to others with general weakness.

“Not every patient that’s being confirmed with flu is looking like a truly affected case,” she said.

“The other thing that’s interesting is we are seeing a lot of Influenza B where we typically would just be seeing Influenza A and B would come up around March and impacting just the elderly.” Influenza B is a less severe strain of the flu.

Vitale said patients being confirmed with the flu have been both vaccinated and unvaccinated. In 2015, the flu season was bad and was later blamed on a strain mismatch in the vaccine, something that may account for the increase this year. But the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, wash your hands often and avoid people who are sick.

“It’s not too late to get the vaccine although I know I’m not sounding too positive about the efficacy,” Vitale said. “But even if you do get it, it may not be 100 per cent effective but it will reduce your chances of being admitted to hospital or the ICU or even potentially dying from the flu.”

The flu is not only affecting humans this season. The H3N2 canine influenza has been confirmed in two dogs in Essex County.

“It’s a virus,” said Dr. Alanna Holmes, President of the Essex County Veterinarian Association.

“The strain that they are infected with is a canine strain of the influenza virus. It’s different than the strain in humans.”

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said two dogs imported from South Korea in late December were showing signs of a respiratory disease when a veterinarian examined them.

This is the first known appearance of the canine flu in Canada however the virus is widespread in parts of Asia and various locations in the United States.

Most dogs who develop influenza do not normally get seriously ill. The infected dogs can usually shed the influenza virus for a short time prior to the onset of disease so often dogs that appear to be healthy are still a potential source of infection. One of the best ways to prevent your family pet from getting influenza is to get a vaccine from your veterinarian. Cats can also become infected but appears to be rare.

“With infectious respiratory diseases there is always the concern that they can be contagious,” Holmes said. “So if your dog is sick don’t take it out in public. If you’re walking your dog and noticing another dog is coughing or sneezing keep away from it.”

Any dogs with symptoms of respiratory disease which include cough, decreased appetite, nasal and eye discharge and fever should be kept away from other dogs for at least two weeks. There is no known human risk from H3N2 canine influenza.

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Registered nurse Mike Drouillard dons protective gear Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, as protection against the influenza virus before dealing with a patient. DAN JANISSE / WINDSOR STAR

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Flu shots are still available for this season. LUKE HENDRY / POSTMEDIA

Why Blaming Migratory Animals for Global Disease Is a Step in Haste [The Wire, 8 Jan 2018]

BY ALICE RISELY, BETHANY J. HOYE AND MARCEL KLAASSEN

Research suggests that ‘pathogens might not get such an easy ride on their migratory hosts as we might assume.’

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Credit: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal

Have you ever got on a flight and the person next to you started sneezing? With 37 million scheduled flights transporting people around the world each year, you might think that the viruses and other germs carried by travellers would be getting a free ride to new pastures, infecting people as they go.

Yet pathogenic microbes are surprisingly bad at expanding their range by hitching rides on planes. Microbes find it difficult to thrive when taken out of their ecological comfort zone; Bali might just be a tad too hot for a Tasmanian parasite to handle.

But humans aren’t the only species to go global with their parasites. Billions of animals have been flying, swimming and running around the globe every year on their seasonal migrations, long before the age of the aeroplane. The question is, are they picking up new pathogens on their journeys? And if they are, are they transporting them across the world?

Migratory animals are the usual suspects for disease spread

With the rate of zoonotic diseases (pathogens that jump from animals to humans) on the rise, migratory animals have been under increasing suspicion of aiding the spread of devastating diseases such as bird flu, Lyme disease and even Ebola.

These suspicions are bad for migrating animals, because they are often killed in large numbers when considered a disease threat. They are also bad for humans, because blaming animals may obscure other important factors in disease spread, such as animal trade. So what’s going on?

Despite the logical link between animal migration and the spread of their pathogens, there is in fact surprisingly little direct evidence that migrants frequently spread pathogens long distances.
This is because migratory animals are notoriously hard for scientists to track. Their movements make them difficult to test for infections over the vast areas that they occupy.

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Many animals migrate, including birds, whales, and fish. Sockeye salmon in Canada migrate huge distances upriver to breed. Credit: Reuters/Andy Clark

But other theories exist that explain the lack of direct evidence for migrants spreading pathogens. One is that, unlike humans who just have to jump on a plane, migratory animals must work exceptionally hard to travel. Flying from Australia to Siberia is no easy feat for a tiny migratory bird, nor is swimming between the poles for giant whales. Human athletes are less likely to finish a race if battling infections and likewise, migrant animals may have to be at the peak of health if they are to survive such gruelling journeys. Sick travellers may succumb to infection before they, or their parasitic hitchhikers, reach their final destination.

Put simply, if a sick animal can’t migrate, then neither can its parasites.

On the other hand, migrants have been doing this for millennia. It is possible they have adapted to such challenges, keeping pace in the evolutionary arms race against pathogens and able to migrate even while infected. In this case, pathogens may be more successful at spreading around the world on the backs of their hosts. But which theory does the evidence support?

Sick animals can still spread disease

To try and get to the bottom of this question, we identified as many studies testing this hypothesis as we could, extracted their data and combined them to look for any overarching patterns.

We found that infected migrants across species definitely felt the cost of being sick: they tended to be in poorer condition, didn’t travel as far, migrated later and had lower chances of survival. However, infection affected these traits differently. Movement was hit hardest by infection, but survival was only weakly impacted. Infected migrants may not die as they migrate, but perhaps they restrict long-distance movements to save energy.

So pathogens seem to pose some costs on their migratory hosts, which would reduce the chances of migrants spreading pathogens, but perhaps not enough of a cost to eliminate the risk completely.

But an important piece of the puzzle is still missing. In humans, travelling increases our risk of getting ill because we come into contact with new germs that our immune system has never encountered before. Are migrants also more susceptible to unfamiliar microbes as they travel to new locations, or have they adapted to this as well?

Guts of migrants resistant to microbial invasion

To investigate the susceptibility of migrants, we went in a different direction and decided to look at the gut bacteria of migratory shorebirds – grey, unassuming birds that forage on beaches or near water and that undergo some of the longest and fastest migrations in the animal kingdom.

Most animals have hundreds of bacterial species living in their guts, which help break down nutrients and fight off potential pathogens. Every new microbe you ingest can only colonise your gut if the environmental conditions are to its liking and competition with current residents isn’t too high. In some cases, it may thrive so much it becomes an infection.

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The Red-necked stint is highly exposed to sediment microbes as it forages for the microscopic invertebrates that fuel its vast migrations. Credit: Author provided

We found the migratory shorebirds we studied were exceptionally good at resisting invasion from ingested microbes, even after flying thousands of kilometres and putting their gut under extreme physiological strain. Birds that had just returned from migration (during which they stopped in many places in China, Japan, and South East Asia), didn’t carry any more species of bacteria than those that had stayed around the same location for a year.

Although these results need to be tested in other migratory species, our research suggests that, like human air traffic, pathogens might not get such an easy ride on their migratory hosts as we might assume. There is no doubt that migrants are involved in pathogen dispersal to some degree, but there is increasing evidence that we shouldn’t jump the gun when it comes to blaming migrants.

Alice Risely is a PhD candidate in Ecology, Deakin University; Bethany J Hoye is a lecturer in Animal Ecology, University of Wollongong, and Marcel Klaassen is a Alfred Deakin Professor and Chair in Ecology, Deakin University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


We’re Not Ready for a Flu Pandemic [The New York Times, 8 Jan 2018]

By MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM and MARK OLSHAKER

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The influenza season is just getting started in the United States, and it already promises to be more severe than usual. Hospital emergency rooms are filling up with flu sufferers, and pharmacies have reported medicine shortages. Twelve children had died as of last month. To make matters worse, in Australia, which experienced its flu season four to six months ago, the current vaccine appeared to be only about 10 percent effective against this year’s dominant strain.

Yet as bad as this winter’s epidemic is, it won’t compare with the flu pandemic that is almost certainly on the horizon if we don’t dedicate energy and resources to a universal vaccine.

Influenza pandemics occur when a novel animal flu virus acquires the ability to infect humans and they, in turn, transmit it to other humans. The 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic (which despite the name may have originated in the American Midwest) killed 50 million to 100 million around the globe. Accounts at the time described people falling ill in the morning and dying that night.
Given the century of medical progress since then, one might conclude that we are far better prepared today to deal with such a worldwide catastrophe. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

The world has about four times the number of inhabitants it did in 1918, including hundreds of millions of people, poultry and pigs living close together. This provides a potent biologic mixing bowl and natural influenza virus mutation factory. What’s more, nearly any point on the planet is accessible to any other point within hours, and there are more than a billion international border crossings each year. The virus will spread rapidly.

When a pandemic does strike, we’ll be in trouble in part because American hospitals and pharmacies keep in stock no more than a few days supply of most lifesaving drugs, almost all of which are made in Asia. Worldwide manufacturing and shipping are highly susceptible to disruption, which could mean shortages in many areas.

A 1918-type influenza pandemic could cause ruin on the order of what the Black Death did to 14th-century Europe, but on a global scale. Like the Black Death, such a pandemic would alter the course of history.

One avian influenza strain, H7N9, is causing widespread infection in Chinese poultry and occasionally infecting humans. During the 2016-17 flu season, 759 Chinese who had been in contact with infected poultry were stricken; 281 of them died. While H7N9 still is rarely transmitted human to human, it may be just one spin of the genetic roulette wheel away from mutations that could make it the next human pandemic strain.

We are not prepared. Our current vaccines are based on 1940s research. Deploying them against a severe global pandemic would be equivalent to trying to stop an advancing battle tank with a single rifle. Limited global manufacturing capacity combined with the five to six months it takes to make these vaccines mean many people would never even have a chance to be vaccinated. Little is being done to aggressively change this unacceptable situation. We will have worldwide flu pandemics. Only their severity is unknown.

The only real solution is a universal vaccine that effectively attacks all influenza A strains, with reliable protection lasting for years, like other modern vaccines. Although the National Institutes of Health has publicly declared developing a vaccine a priority, it has only about $32 million this year specifically for such research. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the other federal agency responsible for developing and making available new vaccines for emergency response, has in fiscal year 2017 only a single project for $43 million supporting game-changing influenza vaccines.

By contrast, the search for an H.I.V. vaccine — still a scientific long shot — receives $1 billion annually (which it should). We estimate that international governments, vaccine manufacturers and the philanthropic community must make a similar commitment to influenza vaccine research if the kind of vaccine we need is to developed in the next 10 years.

But there is no apparent effort to make these vaccines a priority in the current administration. Its national security strategy published last month cites Ebola and SARS as potential bioterrorism and pandemic threats, yet makes no mention of the risk of pandemic influenza nor any aspect of critical vaccine research and development.

The eradication of smallpox in the 1960s and ’70s was arguably the greatest achievement in the annals of public health. We have the tools to potentially accomplish this with influenza, and with the stakes as high as they are, isn’t it worth a Manhattan Project-scale effort to defend ourselves?

The next few weeks will highlight how ill prepared we are for even “ordinary” flu. A worldwide influenza pandemic is literally the worst-case scenario in public health — yet far from an unthinkable occurrence. Unless we make changes, the question is not if but when it will come.

Michael T. Osterholm is a professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Mark Olshaker is a writer and documentary filmmaker.

They are the authors of “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs.”


OIE Notification: H5N8 In Iraq [Avian Flu Diary, 8 Jan 2018]

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Although FluTrackers has had the Arabic language media reports for more than a week, today the OIE published the official notification of HPAI H5N8 in Dilaya, Iraq.

While we've heard occasional (unconfirmed) reports of poultry deaths over the past year in Iraq, this is their first OIE notification since December of 2016.

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Iraq joins Iran, Saudi Arabia in reporting H5N8 outbreaks during this winter of 2017-18. While we are also aware of numerous bird flu outbreaks in Egypt, they no longer submit regular OIE reports, and so it isn't clear how much of their activity is due to H5N1 and how much is due to H5N8.

While H5N8 has been a no-show in most of Europe, South Korea, and Japan this winter, it appears to be alive and well in the Middle East, and in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa as well (see Dec 13th FAO report).

Posted by Michael Coston


Saudi MEWA: Two New Cases Of Bird Fu Reported (H5N8) [Avian Flu Diary, 8 Jan 2018]

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After reporting 11 cases on Saturday, the number of announced H5N8 outbreaks in Saudi Arabia dropped to 3 yesterday, and just 2 today.

While the numbers are moving in the right direction, we've seen a fair number of ups and downs in daily tallies since H5N8 was first announced in Riyadh on December 20th, and so it is too soon to speculate on how much longer KSA's battle against bird flu will go on.

Two New Cases Of Bird Fu Reported (H5N8)

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The ministry continues to cooperate with the relevant authorities efforts to contain the outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8), where the number of new infections confirmed in the laboratory of the disease among birds during the twenty-four hours last in the Kingdom (two cases) only in Darmaa and Al-Ahsa province, source of backyard breeding traditional poultry .

Field, finished veterinary teams in the province Dhurma health security to get rid of two poultry which appeared their injury was announced in advance, the total number of birds that were healthy and safe disposal 246 103 birds.

While the veterinary field teams relay in Makkah Region and the provinces of Al-Kharj and Harimlae and Darmaa and Al-Ahsa and Buraidah Bakeereya and Dawadmi and Hawtat Bani Tamim, health safe disposal of birds procedures in a number of backyard traditional education in the vicinity of the areas that were discovered infection where and advertised, and the implementation and completion of control and control procedures those sites.

In the part of the laboratory diagnosis received the ministry laboratories veterinary until this day (2630) sample to be tested for the disease have been completed all, and collected samples based on the reports of citizens, and procedures for epidemiological surveillance in the vicinity of the affected areas, as well as non-infected to detect any new disease spots early in the Kingdom different.

The ministry is continuing to apply Ajerouat prevent the movement of live birds without issuing prior transfer authorization, and calls upon the Ministry Angel of birds and entrepreneurs to abide by the ministry's decision to prevent movement between the regions except prior permission from the ministry according to what has been previously announced, and will be applied to what is stated in Articles ( 51.52) of the Implementing Regulations of livestock issued by Royal decree No. m / 13 dated 10/3/1424 against the violators of the decision to ban the movement of live birds.

The ministry indicated that the toll-free central room information and emergency livestock (8002470000) works around the clock to answer inquiries and provide guidance tips for bird breeders in ways of protection against the disease, in addition to receiving reports of suspected disease of individuals or productive projects, where the number of communications received it during the twenty-four hours last nine reports were all brought in, while the number of inquiries about the disease (36) queries, bringing the total communications and inquiries (1,210) communication and inquiries since the beginning of the discovery of the disease.

In the part of veterinary awareness and guidance ministry is still continuing its awareness of high pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) in the markets and communities in all regions of the Kingdom.


Yunlin farms report H5N2 outbreak [Taipei Times, 9 Jan 2018]

By Lin Chia-nan and Liao Shu-ling

BIRD FLU:The head of the nation’s poultry association assured people they need not worry about potential price increases ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year

The Council of Agriculture (COA) on Sunday confirmed that two more poultry farms in Yunlin County (雲林県) have been found to be infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N2, which brings new infections to three in the first week of the year.

More avian flu infections have been reported from the central and southern regions since November last year.

Of the 15 poultry farms that saw H5N2 infections from November last year to this month, 12 are in Yunlin County, two are in Pingtung County and one is in Chiayi County, council data showed.

After a poultry farm in Yunlin County’s Tungshih Township (東勢郷) had 10,461 chickens culled on Friday, 11,160 chickens were yesterday culled at another farm in Tungshih, as well as 601 ducks at a farm in Huwei Township (虎尾), to prevent further outbreaks of H5N2, council data showed.

The Yunlin Animal and Plant Disease Control Center on Thursday received reports from the two farms about unusual deaths among their fowl and immediately banned them from transporting any livestock.

The council’s Animal Health Research Institute yesterday confirmed that the fowl at both farms had been infected with H5N2 virus, COA Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Shih Tai-hua (施泰華) said, adding that they have been properly disinfected.

However, he said the duck farm did not have official registration records, so its owner would be punished by the Yunlin County Government.

People who do not obtain registration certificates for their poultry farm can be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, according to the Animal Industry Act (畜牧法).

As next month’s Lunar New Year approaches, demand for poultry meat is on the rise. The
spread of avian flu has raised concern about a possible price hike for poultry in the coming weeks.

Avian flu surges seasonally in birds, just as humans are more susceptible to the flu in certain seasons, Poultry Association Republic of China chief executive Lee Ching-te (李進德) said.
As chicken supply and prices are both stable, consumers need not worry too much about market fluctuations, Lee said.


Avian influenza: 942 birds culled off, surveillance to continue. [Times of India, 8 Jan 2018]

Animal Husbandry & Health and family welfare officers will continue the sanitation & disinfection exercise at Dasarahalli of Yelahanka Hobli in Bengaluru East Taluk, Bengaluru Urban District where in a stray incidence of Avian Influenza with H5 virus strain was confirmed few days ago.

Health and Family Welfare Department on Monday said that about 1 kilometre radius of the epicentre was notified as "Infected zone" and 1-10 KM radius notified as "Surveillance Zone" by the Government. "All the 942 birds, in the infected zone, were scientifically culled and disposed off. Sanitation & Disinfection is completed in the infected zone and continued in the surveillance zone. Everyone in 0-3 KM zone has been checked by Health and Family Welfare Department," the statement added.

The department has also clarified that there have been no reports of unnatural death of poultry birds in the surveillance zone. Public need not panic, it added.

The department further said that the experts deputed from the Government of India department Health and Family Welfare have observed and confirmed the same. The team has advised both Animal Husbandry & Health and family welfare officers to strictly continue surveillance and maintain vigilance as per GOI guidelines. Surveillance will continue as per the guidelines issued by GOI during March 2015. For further information public may contact Toll free help line no: 1800 425 0012.


Case of bird flu detected at Korean duck farm [The Korea Herald, 8 Jan 2018]

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Birds fly over a reservoir in Naju, 355 kilometers south of Seoul, on Dec. 29, 2017. (Yonhap)

SEJONG -- A new case of bird flu has been discovered at a duck farm in South Korea‘s southwestern region, the agriculture ministry said Monday, in the latest outbreak in the duck farming region.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said H5 avian influenza was detected at a farm in Naju, 355 kilometers south of Seoul, and culled all of the farm’s 16,500 ducks.

Quarantine officials plan to slaughter an additional 53,500 ducks at five other farms located within 3 kilometers from the affected region as part of preventive measures, the ministry said.

If the case is confirmed as a highly pathogenic strain of the virus, it will be the second AI case in Naju since one confirmed on Dec. 29, the ministry noted.

Since the first outbreak of highly pathogenic AI on Nov. 19, South Korea has confirmed 11 bird flu cases and culled 1.46 million ducks and chickens. Except one confirmed case in Gyeonggi Province last week, all other outbreaks have been isolated to Jeolla Province, a major duck farming region. (Yonhap)


Shipments of birds intercepted [Saudi Gazette, 8 Jan 2018]

ByAbdullah Al-Qarni

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 The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has imposed restrictions on the trade and transport of birds in view of the avian flu epidemic.

RIYADH — Inspectors of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture seized 1,008 birds being transported from Riyadh to Makkah without permit.

Given the recent spread of the bird flu in various parts of the country, the ministry imposed restrictions on selling and transportation of birds in the Kingdom.

The seized birds were being transported in two shipments. The violators will be penalized, the ministry said.

They face a maximum fine of SR1 million or imprisonment for five years and the suspension of commercial license.

Eleven new cases of avian flu were detected on Saturday alone. Five of the patients were in Al-Ahsa, four in Dharmaa and one in Al-Kharj. Another patient was in Houtat Bani Naeem governorate. All of these patients contracted the disease after direct contact with the birds.

The ministry’s laboratories received a total of 2,541 samples for analysis. The samples were collected from bird markets all over the Kingdom, particularly of birds kept in unhygienic environments based on reports the ministry received from the public.


SAUDI ARABIA Pelican takes ill at Kokkarebellur as bird flu scare returns [Deccan Herald, 8 Jan 2018]

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The pelican that has fallen from a tree at Kokkarebellu, near Bharthinagar, in Mandya district.

Fear of bird flu has returned to Kokkarebellur Bird Sanctuary after a pelican took ill on Monday evening. So far, 11 pelicans have died in the sanctuary.

Meanwhile, the death of pelicans at Soolekere recently has also created anxiety among the people of the surrounding villages.

According to B Lingegowda, president of Hejjarle Balaga, no pelican that has fallen from the tree has survived.

Speaking to DH, he said, the death of pelicans in the sanctuary last month was due to worm infection, according to laboratory reports and officials. But, the people are under fear due to bird flu outbreak. The authorities concerned should camp here and observe the health of pelicans. This will lessen the anxiety among the villagers. Measures should be taken to end the death of pelicans here, Lingegowda said.


Two More H5N6 Bird Flu Outbreaks in Gyeonggi, South Jeolla Provinces [www.thepoultrysite.com, 8 Jan 2018]

SOUTH KOREA - The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has reported two further outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu in farms located in the provinces of Gyeonggi and South Jeolla.

The OIE received follow-up report no. 7 on Friday, 5 January, after real-time reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR) tests were carried out at the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency on 4 and 5 January. The results for both tests were found positive.

According to the report, the affected population consists of egg layers in Gyeonggi Province and parent ducks in South Jeolla Province.

A total of 197,000 layers showed signs of susceptibility, out of which 26 cases and deaths were reported. The remaining 196,974 were killed and disposed of.

In South Jeolla Province, 21,700 parent ducks were found susceptible, out of which 40 cases and deaths were discovered. The veterinary authorities killed and disposed of the remaining 21,600 birds.

Although an epidemiological investigation is ongoing, the source of the outbreak still remains unknown.


Bird flu scare badly hit chicken business in B'lore [ANI News, 8 Jan 2018]

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Hubli (Karnataka) [India], Jan 8 (ANI): The bird flu scare, which gripped the Bengaluru city, has severely dipped the sale of chicken.

Meat-sellers are in distress across the state as the sale has gone down drastically in some markets due to fear among buyers.

Talking to ANI, meat seller Aslam said, "The sale of mutton has gone up. Sale of chicken has gone down by at least 25 percent."

A public health officer on Sunday had said that the authorities were taking all necessary steps to keep bird flu at bay.

Earlier this week, a stray incidence of Avian Influenza, with H5 Virus Strain, was confirmed in around 942 chickens at Bengaluru's Dasarahalli, after which the infected birds were culled and disposed.

Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds (especially wild water fowl such as ducks and geese). Wild birds can carry the virus without showing symptoms of it and transmit it to poultry through their feathers or feces.

The public is appealed to not panic and guided that chicken, meat and eggs can be consumed only after proper cooking.

Iraq reports outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu: OIE [Reuters, 8 Jan 2018]

PARIS (Reuters) - Iraq has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu in Diyala in the center of the country, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

The virus was found on Dec. 27 at a farm of 43,000 birds and killed 7,250 of them, the OIE said in a report posted on its website, citing the Iraqi ministry of agriculture.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Valerie Parent, editing by David Evans


Import of poultry meat and products from Gyeonggi-do Province in Korea suspended [satPRnews (press release), 8 Jan 2018]

BY LUDWIK DONIMIRSKI

Import of poultry meat and products from Gyeonggi-do Province in Korea suspended

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (January 8) that in view of a notification from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) about an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza in Gyeonggi-do Province in Korea, the CFS has instructed the trade to suspend import of poultry meat and products (including poultry eggs) from the province with immediate effect to protect public health in Hong Kong.

A CFS spokesman said that in the first nine months of last year, Hong Kong imported about 77 tonnes of frozen and chilled poultry meat and 390 000 poultry eggs from Korea.

“The CFS has contacted the Korean authorities over the issue and will closely monitor information issued by the OIE on avian influenza outbreaks. Appropriate action will be taken in response to the development of the situation,” the spokesman said.


Bird flu detected at South Korean duck farm [New Straits Times Online, 8 Jan 2018]

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A quarantine official disinfects an ambulance in the vicinity of a layer chicken farm where the quarantine authorities confirmed an outbreak of an avian influenza virus, in the city of Pocheon, northeast of Seoul, South Korea, 04 January 2018. EPA-EFE/YONHAP

SEJONG: A new case of bird flu has been discovered at a duck farm in South Korea’s southwestern region, the agriculture ministry said Monday, in the latest outbreak in the duck farming region, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said H5 avian influenza (AI) was detected at a farm in Naju, 355 kilometers south of Seoul, and culled all of the farm’s 16,500 ducks.

Quarantine officials plan to slaughter an additional 53,500 ducks at five other farms located within three kilometers from the affected region as part of preventive measures, the ministry said.

If the case is confirmed as a highly pathogenic strain of the virus, it will be the second AI case in Naju since one confirmed on Dec 29, the ministry noted.

Since the first outbreak of highly pathogenic AI on Nov 19, South Korea has confirmed 11 bird flu cases and culled 1.46 million ducks and chickens. Except one confirmed case in Gyeonggi Province last week, all other outbreaks have been isolated to Jeolla Province, a major duck farming region. --Bernama
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Zoonotic Swine Flu News from 1 Jan 2018


45 deaths caused by H1N1 virus since beginning of winter in Tunisia [Xinhua, 18 Jan 2018]

TUNIS, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Avian influenza has caused the death of 45 people with H1N1 virus in Tunisia since the beginning of winter, a health official said on Wednesday.

"Most cases of death concern patients over the age of 50, particularly those who are chronically ill, or who have not followed the instructions of the National Plan for the Prevention of Seasonal Influenza launched by Ministry of Health", said Insaf Ben Alaya, Director of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases.

"Almost all of these deaths were recorded in the four provinces of the Grand Tunis area and the province of Bizerte (extremely north of the country)," said Alaya.

The official also said that no less than 300 people are in hospitalization for intensive care including some cases qualified as critical.

"Currently, the rate of infection with this virus is 7.2 percent, in a downward curve. We have not yet crossed the epidemic phase, but the situation remains under control", assured Alaya.

The Director General of Health Ministry, Nabiha Borsali, insisted in a media note that vaccination represents a better protection against this virus, especially for elderly people over 60, pregnant women, overweight individuals as well as infants.


What Makes This Flu Season So Bad [National Geographic, 17 Jan 2018]

By Sarah Gibbens

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A woman receives a free flu shot from a Walgreens employee during a free flu shot clinic at Allen Temple Baptist Church on December 19, 2014 in Oakland, California.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JUSTIN SULLIVAN, GETTY

A dangerous strain paired with less effective vaccines has created a dangerous recipe for illness.

A person, commuting to work on a packed bus, coughs. If they're infected with the flu virus, it could be a recipe for disaster.

Imperceptible to the human eye, the flu virus is one of the most pervasive and persistent on the planet. It mates and spreads in the air. One strain is capable of circumventing the globe in a matter of months.

A recently published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report confirmed what hospitals around the U.S. already know—2017/2018 is a bad year for the flu.

Out of every 100,000 hospitalizations in the U.S., 22.7 were for the flu in the first week in January. According to the CDC, the number had doubled from the week before. During the severe flu season that ended in 2015, rates of hospitalizations reached 29.9 for every 100,000.

During a recent January 12 call with reporters, CDC doctor and director of the influenza division Dan Jernigan noted that the flu was widespread across the continental U.S. In the U.K., flu cases have skyrocketed. It follows a similar pattern seen in Australia during their flu season.

National Geographic spoke with three experts about why this year's flu season is unique. Below, we share their responses.

HOW BAD IS THIS YEAR'S FLU?

The winter season that began in 2017 and will end in 2018 "unquestionably falls into a bad year," says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

"Flu seasons every year are bad so there's never a mild flu season," Jernigan noted on the call.

Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist at George Washington University, is taking a bit more measured view. "It looks right now like a moderate season, but it takes a few weeks to make the final verdict," says Simonsen.

The CDC measures rates of hospitalizations and illness by weeks, and the last time the flu was historically bad was during the beginning weeks of 2015. However, it’s important to remember that flu levels exceed the CDC's threshold to be considered an epidemic almost every year.

This year's flu rates have yet to reach the levels seen three years ago, but flu season is currently at its peak and current trends suggest they could get worse.

WHY IS IT SO BAD?

This year's unfolding flu season can be explained threefold, says Fauci.

First, he says, is the nature of the most dominant flu strain infecting people—H3N2. Flu viruses mutate every year, and it's common to see several strains of flu during the same season. A similar strain called H1N1 was responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, and the 2009 "swine flu" outbreak.

"H3N2 is historically the bad actor among influenzas," he says. "It's also associated with complications."

H3N2 is also the dominant strain in the U.K. and was the dominant flu strain in Australia.

The second reason H3N2 has been so pervasive, says Fauci, is people have less exposure to it. When the same flu strain strikes repeatedly, people and thus regions tend to build up immunity.

The third reason this year's flu has been so bad is complications with the vaccine. Most influenza vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, and when this year's vaccine was being incubated, the virus mutated while it was growing and became less effective.

Scientists think it may only be about 30 percent effective against H3N2. In Australia, the vaccine was only 10 percent effective.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

At best, says Fauci, flu vaccines are only ever about 60 percent effective. While that makes it at least 60 percent more effective than not getting a vaccine at all, it still means the rapidly mutating virus has a fighting chance.

Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) meets to determine what specific flu strains should receive vaccines in the northern hemisphere. H3N2 was one of several identified as a threat.

THE "HOLY GRAIL" OR UNIVERSAL VACCINE

There are four different types of influenza virus, three of which infect people. Of those three, influenza A and B are the most common and each of those subsets develops different strains. H1N1 and H3N2, for example, are strains of influenza A, and they adapt by constantly changing their surface proteins.

"The holy grail is to target a piece of the virus by antibody or t cell," says Tom Evans, the CEO of a company called Vaccitech that is working on a universal vaccine they hope can be used to treat all strains of influenza A.

"The body prefers to make a response to the part of the virus that changes," says Fauci, who is also overseeing NIH groups working on universal vaccines. "It's our job to present to the body this molecule that makes a specific response against the part that doesn't change."

Through clinical trials, Evans hopes to answer his current hypothesis within two years but says an additional five years after that will be needed to improve upon the research group's findings. Fauci, too says that some headway has been made, but a universal vaccine is still at least several years in the works.

WHAT TO DO NOW

Available flu vaccines should still be taken, says Simonsen, though she adds it's important to remember they take a week or two to become effective. Not only do they increase the odds of not getting the flu, she says, but they also prevent spreading the virus to at-risk groups like the young, elderly, or those with serious medical conditions. The flu is rarely lethal in healthy individuals.

Once infected, flu patients can also take antivirals to help kill off the virus more quickly.


Flu: why this year’s outbreak is one of the worst [The Conversation UK, 17 Jan 2018]

The UK is being hit with one of the worst flu seasons in recent decades. A total of 664 hospital admissions and 85 confirmed deaths have been reported since the beginning of winter 2017.

The British media have blamed “Aussie flu” for the outbreak. The truth is, there is not just one flu strain we should be worried about, and “Aussie flu” is a bit of a misnomer.

First, a bit about flu strains. There isn’t really a flu virus. Flu virus is a name we give a group of four closely related viruses: influenza A, influenza B, influenza C and influenza D. While humans can’t catch influenza D (that’s for pigs and cows), we can be infected with influenza A, B and C.

Public health officials, however, are less worried about influenza C as it isn’t a major cause of illness. But influenza A and B are a real worry.

Influenza A has been found in – and causes disease in – lots of animals, including birds, bats, dogs, pigs and penguins. One of the major worries is pandemic influenza, where a new virus jumps from animals and spreads across the world easily because we haven’t had a chance to build up immunity to that new type.

Influenzas A and B can be subdivided even further by the proteins they carry on their surface – hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). These proteins help the virus identify the right cells to infect.

For influenza A there are 18 Hs and 11 Ns identified so far. Hence we get names such as H1N1 for swine flu or H5N1 for bird flu. Contrast this with the fact that there are really only two lineages of influenza B, named after cities in Japan and Australia: Yamagata and Victoria, respectively.

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Artists representation of a flu virus (H1N1). supergalactic/Shutterstock.com

The Hs and Ns are continuously evolving in response to our immune systems, which recognise and make antibodies to stop the virus taking hold. A vaccine usually supplies the H and N proteins without the potentially dangerous virus. Scientists also continuously track the H and N of circulating influenza viruses and adjust the vaccine to match what’s out there. This is the basis for flu vaccination and why you have to get a new vaccine jab every year.

Enter ‘Aussie flu’

“Aussie flu” refers to one kind of influenza A virus strain, the H3N2 strain.

The southern hemisphere, including Australia, just experienced one of its worst influenza seasons in recent history and this is the virus that has reached British shores. But we don’t actually know where the virus originated from. All we can say is, it probably wasn’t from Australia.

One place it is more likely to have come from is the sub-tropical regions that do not have winter seasons. These regions do not suffer from the same large flu epidemics that temperate countries like the UK and Australia have (we don’t know why, but some scientists have suggested it’s to do with temperature or humidity), but have continuous lower-level circulation of flu that allows influenza viruses to persist between winters.

What’s worrying about this season is the experience Australia had last flu season. Australia was hit particularly hard by influenza virus H3N2. H3N2 is a typical seasonal flu strain – like H1N1 – but it tends to be more difficult to control.

There are three red flags this flu season, and they are that H3N2 viruses typically causes more hospitalisations and deaths in older people, there are difficulties in producing effective H3N2 vaccines (explained below), and there’s more than just H3N2 to consider, especially in the UK this year.

Although good against the other strains, this season the vaccine is about 20% protective against H3N2 viruses (not great, but better than nothing) as the virus changed unavoidably during production. This is due to a quirk of how flu vaccines are produced. They are grown in chicken eggs, and then inactivated before being used in vaccines.

Flu viruses mutate quickly and they mutate to adapt to their environment. Of course, a chicken egg is a different environment to a human body, so the end result may be a virus that’s not best suited to a flu vaccine. This appears to have been what happened with the latest H3N2 vaccine.

Seasonal flu epidemics are usually caused by a mixed bag of viruses. This year, the mix is so far mainly shared between H3N2 and influenza B.

What’s worse is that this increase in proportion of influenza B makes it more difficult to protect from because the most popular vaccine in the UK is a “trivalent” that protects against three flu viruses (H1N1, H3N2 and one of the two kinds of influenza B). This year, though, the other type of influenza B (Yamagata) is more common meaning that those with the trivalent vaccine will be protected less, although they would likely get some cross-influenza B protection.

One vaccine to rule them all

Influenza is incredibly diverse. And this diversity can have devastating consequences for human and animal health. Although our ability to track flu, predict the viruses making up the next season and produce safe and effective vaccines is improving, we are always playing catch up.

Efforts to produce a universal flu vaccine are, however, being pursued by scientists across the world. The idea would be that a single vaccine given a few times during your life would protect you from any flu virus, irrespective of H, N, A or B.

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Researchers are working on a universal flu vaccine that will protect against all strains of the virus. Manjurul Haque/Shutterstock.com

But, until then, you can defend yourself and your loved ones from the flu this year by getting your vaccine, practising good personal hygiene, such as handwashing, and avoiding crowded spaces if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.


Swine flu: Govt orders probe into negligence of staff [Times of India, 17 Jan 2018]

Jaipur: Not worrying too much about her own risk of getting infected with swine flu, additional chief secretary (health) Veenu Gupta inspected houses of persons diagnosed with swine flu to check if her rapid response teams (RRT) have done their job properly to prevent the spread of swine flu.

However, she found that out of four places inspected, there were two places where negligence of RRT was reported. She immediately issued directions to take action against the two RRT team officials and set up department disciplinary inquiry.

She inspected houses wearing mask and taking all necessary precaution to ward off possibilities of getting infected with the disease. She visited Mansarovar, Gandhi Nagar, Bapu Nagar and Imli Ka Phatak areas.

In Bapu Nagar, she visited a house in which three persons were tested positive for swine flu. When she inquired about screening performed by her department's RRT, she got a response from the people of the area which shocked her. The residents complained that the screening was not performed properly. In Mansarovar area too, the residents complained that no proper screening of people for swine flu was conducted. Under screening, RRT examines people living in 50 houses in nearby areas and if it finds any suspected case of swine flu, it inform the higher officials about their treatment, a health department official said.

Chief medical and health officer (CMHO I) Dr Narottam Sharma said, "We will check from tomorrow by visiting the houses of patients of swine flu and their neighbourhood, if the activities by RRT were done properly to prevent spread of swine flu to others."


Steep rise in flu cases slows [Korea Biomedical Review, 16 Jan 2018]


By Lee Min-ju


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(Source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The steep rise in flu cases in late last year has slowed this month, government data showed Monday. The nation had suffered a nine-fold surge in flu cases in December from the previous month.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly tracking of infectious diseases, 72.1 patients out of 1,000 outpatients had the flu in the first week of 2018 (between Dec. 31 and Jan. 6), inching up only by 0.3 from 71.8 in the last week of 2017 (between Dec. 24 and Dec. 30).


Influenza cases had continued to go up since the health authorities issued a flu warning on Dec. 1. However, the rapid increase entered into a gentle maintenance curve in the first week of this year.

The slower pace of growth in flu cases this year is in stark contrast to last year’s flu season when influenza cases plunged to less than 40 patients per 1,000 outpatients in the first week of 2017 from 86.2 in the last week of 2016.

By type, influenza with B virus took up more than half of all influenza cases. Among the locally detected 749 influenza viruses, 409 cases (54.61 percent) were type B influenza, 294 (39.25 percent) were type A (H3N2), and 46 (6.14 percent), type A (H1N1) pdm09.

Although the sharp increase slowed down, those in a high-risk group -- including young children and the elderly aged more than 65 who are more likely to be admitted due to influenza infection -- should see a doctor and receive proper treatment as soon as possible, the KCDC noted.


Cases of 'Aussie flu' rocket by 35% in a week and death toll is officially 97, figures reveal, as 15-year-old schoolboy becomes the latest victim [Daily Mail, 15 Jan 2018]

By STEPHEN MATTHEWS

・Official figures shows 4,128 people were struck down across England last week
・This is compared to the 3,044 cases of influenza recorded the week before
・It comes as the flu death toll across the home nations is known to have hit 93

The dreaded flu outbreak shows no signs of stopping as cases of the killer virus have rocketed by 35 per cent in a week, official figures reveal.

Government data shows 4,128 people were struck down across England last week - compared to the 3,044 new cases recorded the week before.

It comes as the flu death toll across the home nations is now officially 97 - with many more fatalities expected in the coming weeks.

However, the total amount of deaths is likely to be much higher as laboratory tests only capture a fraction of the true number.

A 15-year-old boy, Sean Hughes, is believed to be the latest victim in Ireland, with his death adding to the country's toll of at least 10.

A 'beautiful' 18-year-old girl, from Scotland, made national headlines last week after dying from flu leading to her mother posting a heartbreaking tribute on social media.

Projections claim the flu virus will become an epidemic by the end of the month, with the UK being hit by a number of strains simultaneously.

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Government data shows 4,128 people were struck down across England last week - compared to the 3,044 new cases recorded the week before

Public Health England data, released today, showed there were 4,128 confirmed cases of flu in the week ending January 14.

Some 1,785 people were found to have influenza A, 2,278 were shown to have influenza B and a further 65 were unclassified.

This winter's outbreak appears to be 16 times more severe than that of 2015/16 - when just 262 cases of flu had been recorded at the same point.

During that winter, Government figures suggested the winter flu played a role in more than 16,000 deaths. Only 577 were recorded in the previous winter.

However, this winter's outbreak shows no signs of slowing down, as flu cases are expected to rocket even further in the coming weeks.

Similar laboratory figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are released later this week. They are expected to follow similar trends.

A precise toll is unavailable for Wales. Eight have died in intensive care units in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland. A total of 85 have died in England.

The rocketing number of flu cases has been put down to a surge in two aggressive subtypes attacking the population simultaneously.

ASPIRING RAPPER, 15 DIES FROM THE 'FLU'
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Sean Hughes, from Dublin, passed away in hospital on Friday from 'flu' A 15-year-old boy died from the 'flu', his heartbroken parents have revealed. Sean Hughes, from Dublin, passed away in hospital on Friday - after being rushed for emergency treatment the evening before. Doctors were adamant the aspiring rapper, known to his friends as Lil' Red, had the flu when they saw him on Wednesday. Tributes have flooded in for Sean, who was 'loved by everyone' and described as a 'larger-than-life young man' who was 'way ahead of his years'. Speaking at their family home, his grieving father Joe told the Irish Sun: 'We are still waiting for answers. 'It was a very bad chest infection to start off with and there were complications after that. 'He went into the hospital. He had the chest infection a few days before that. He just passed away after a sudden illness.' His mother, Karen, revealed they took him to the GP on Wednesday - two days before he died - to discuss his flu-like symptoms. The doctor said 'he has the flu'. His condition rapidly worsened and he was taken to Temple Street Hospital on the Thursday. His parents are reluctant to talk about Sean's death because they can't confirm that it was the flu that killed him. Hundreds of relatives, friends and locals have since visited the family's home to pay their respects for the young rapper. Touching stories of how Sean, a fan of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, helped the elderly and bullying victims have also been unearthed. His father plans to give out some of his CDs in the next few days as the community copes with the 'big impact' his death has had.


One includes the so-called 'Aussie flu', a strain of influenza A which triggered triple the number of expected cases in Australia during the country's winter.

Experts fear the virulent H3N2 strain, which has now reached the UK, could prove as deadly to humanity as the Hong Kong flu in 1968, which killed one million people.

The other is a strain of influenza B, called Yamagata and dubbed 'Japanese flu', which has been blamed for the majority of cases so far this winter.

Its rapid spread has raised concerns because it is not covered in a vaccine given to the elderly. However, experts claim it is less severe.

WHAT FLU STRAINS ARE IN THE UK?
There are many different types of flu circulating around the world, but four main types are being seen in Britain this winter. H3N2 - Dubbed ‘Aussie flu’ after it struck Australia hard last winter, this strain is more likely to affect the elderly, who do not respond well to the current vaccine. This is one of the most common strains seen so far this winter, with 63 confirmed cases seen in official laboratories. H1N1 - This strain – known as ‘swine flu’ - is generally more likely to hit children, who respond well to vaccination. This has been seen nearly as often as H3N2 so far this year, with 50 cases confirmed in labs. In the past it was only commonly caught from pigs, but that changed in 2009 when it started spreading rapidly among humans in a major global pandemic. B / Yamagata - This is known as 'Japanese flu'. Only people who received the ‘four strain’ vaccine - which is being slowly rolled out after it was introduced for the first time this winter - are protected against the Yamagata strain. Those who received the normal ‘three strain’ vaccine are not protected, and it has been seen in 63 lab cases so far this winter. B / Victoria - This strain is vaccinated against in the normal ‘three strain’ vaccine, but has hardly appeared so far this winter, with just four confirmed cases.


Usually, just one subtype, either influenza A or B, is responsible for the majority of cases. It spreads easily in the cold weather.

It is too early to say exactly what is causing the high death numbers, but a bad flu season was blamed for high numbers of winter deaths last year, when 34,300 additional deaths were seen.

Experts fear the flu outbreak this year is already far worse than last year.

Flu was also blamed when 43,850 extra deaths were seen in 2014/15 in England and Wales, in a particularly bad influenza season.

Figures on Thursday showed there has been 1,938 confirmed hospital cases of flu in England so far this winter. Some 432 have been caused by H3N2.

Some 199 were caused by H1N1, which triggered the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed 50 million. A further 448 strains of influenza A were unidentified.

The remaining 859 cases were caused by strains of influenza B, including 'Japanese flu', which usually produces less side effects, according to PHE data.

At the same point last year, deemed week two by health officials, just 497 people had been hospitalised by flu in England.

The flu outbreak is putting a huge strain on hospitals, with doctors warning the conditions in the NHS are the worst they have ever seen.

Patients are dying in the corridors of overcrowded A&E units because there are not enough beds, leading doctors warned in a letter to the Prime Minister last week.

Health bosses have blamed the rapidly escalating cases of flu for their controversial decision to cancel 55,000 operations last week.

The same move was also made by French officials as the European country battles an epidemic of 'exceptional magnitude'.

Experts fear H3N2 is more severe than the Swine flu pandemic of 2009 which killed nearly 300,000 people across the world.

MOTHER'S HEARTACHE AS HER 18-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER DIES FROM FLU
An 18-year-old girl has become the tragic victim of the flu, her heartbroken mother has revealed. Bethany Walker, from Applecross, died after taking ill at home - initially from flu symptoms which later developed into pneumonia. Miss Walker was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness but died later last Friday. Tributes have poured in on social media.
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Bethany Walker, from Applecross, died after taking ill at home - initially from flu symptoms which later developed into pneumonia Her mother Heather Teale wrote on Facebook: 'My beautiful Daughter Bethany Walker was taken from me yesterday (Jan 5). 'She had been suffering from a flu virus, which became pneumonia. 'She was airlifted to Raigmore with me by her side yesterday morning (Jan 5), where she rapidly deteriorated. 'The staff in Intensive Care could not have done more, she was given the best possible treatment from a team of eight people for over two hours, they tried everything possible but sadly despite their best efforts she didn't make it.' She added: 'I am broken, the bottom has fallen out of my world. I have my mum with me, and my wonderful son Danny Walker who are both feeling the same loss as I am.
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Miss Walker was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness but died later last Friday. Tributes have poured in on social media 'Life will never be the same again. Bethany, I love you to the moon and back, I always have and I always will, you were the best daughter I could have ever wished for and I will always be the proudest mum in the world. 'I have no more words. I'm truly devastated. Sleep tight my beautiful girl, your brother and I will love you forever, you will never be out of my thoughts as long as I live.' Among those paying his respects was TV adventurer Monty Halls, who lived on the Applecross peninsula in 2008 for his Great Escapes series. He wrote: 'Heather, I am so, so sorry to hear this news - it is beyond comprehension. Words seem so completely inadequate. 'Every member of the film crew for Great Escapes remembers her so fondly, a total delight. 'My deepest condolences to you, and your family. I know the entire team send their best wishes, their thoughts, and their love. Monty xxx' The Applecross Inn Facebook also paid its own special tribute: 'Farewell to dear Bethany another fantastic member of our team who we sadly lost last Friday after a short illness, you were the 'belle of the ball' at Hogmanay......and indeed everywhere. 'Such a tragic loss of someone so perfect in every way, so polite, such beauty, humour, fun, music and studies. 'You were pure pleasure as an employee.....loved by every member of our team, so much devotion and dedication to all you did.' Miss Walker wanted to study midwifery and was due to head for Aberdeen University later this year.



Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at Oxford University, believes this winter 'may well be worse than others'.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline yesterday, Professor Horby said: 'Generally H3N2 tends to be a bit more severe than the H1N1 in 2009.'

His comments came as a leading virologist predicted another cold snap will fuel the spread of H3N2 and 'kick cases into another orbit'.


Professor John Oxford, of Queen Mary University in London, exclusively warned that the killer virus spreads much easier when temperatures plummet.

CASES OF INFLUENZA

Statistics from Public Health England reveal how many people were infected during week two of the previous four winters.

2018
Influenza A 1,785
Influenza B 2,278
Ungrouped 65
Total 4,128

Influenza A 1,426
Influenza B 31
Ungrouped 58
Total 1,515


2016
Influenza A 239
Influenza B 23
Ungrouped 0
Total 262

2015
Influenza A 1,179
Influenza B 8
Ungrouped 0
Total 1,187

Forecasters believe the cold weather will continue - forcing adults to flock indoors and be surrounded by others where they can catch flu easier.

The sharp rise in flu is only expected to cause further problems for the NHS, with cases of the winter vomiting bug also continuing to soar.

Latest figures show 2,551 people have been infected with norovirus since July. The figure has raised at a steady level week-on-week since October.

Flu is also 'actively circulating' in Ireland, with less than ten people having lost their lives to the killer virus so far in this winter's outbreak.

And in the US, the flu is already gripping 36 states and has killed at least 100 people in the US, according to data released by the CDC.

Professor Oxford has also revealed he is keeping his 'fingers crossed' as he fears the current epidemic in France could replicate itself in Britain.

The European country has been rocked by an 'exceptional' outbreak, with nearly 12,000 people having been left hospitalised and more than 30 dead.

Figures show the UK is heading the same way, with scientists concerned the flu causing havoc on the over-stretched NHS is 'unpredictable'.

The Ministry of Health in France issued an alert about flu earlier this week, warning that the outbreak has still yet to reach its peak.

It read: 'The influenza epidemic is of an exceptional magnitude, by the number of cases, which risks exceeding those of the last two years.'

The rocketing cases prompted Marisol Touraine, the country's health minister, to delay non-urgent operations to free up hospital beds.

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France has been rocked by an 'exceptional' outbreak, with nearly 12,000 people having been left hospitalised (the graphic shows how many people per 100,000 have been infected for each region - any more than 400 is considered an epidemic)

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Public Health England data also shows the killer virus has left 1,938 in hospital - a quarter of which because of so-called 'Aussie flu'

WHERE IS BEING HIT THE WORST?
Currently, Scotland is reporting the highest number of GP consultations for flu in the UK - rising from 46.3 per 100,000 people to 107.2 per 100,000 people. This is more than double the amount in Northern Ireland (52.6) and almost triple that of Wales (38.9). In contrast, England’s rate is 37.3. Officials class an outbreak as reaching epidemic levels when flu-like symptoms being reported in GP consultations hit a certain rate. Each of the home nations has a different level, with England's being set at 109 cases per 100,000 people. In Scotland it is 419, Northern Ireland 142 and Wales 75. Between the last week of December, dubbed 51, and the first week of January, dubbed one, England saw a 77 per cent jump in flu symptoms. Using this percentage, MailOnline predicted that England will reach epidemic levels by week three - before the end of January. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all saw jumps of between 131 and 132 per cent in flu symptoms. These figures were used for their projections. Scotland and Northern Ireland will hit epidemic levels at the same time as England. Wales will reach its epidemic threshold by next week, if current trends continue.


Australia - whose winter occurs during the British summer - had one of its worst outbreaks on record, with two and a half times the normal number of cases.

Some of the country's A&E units had 'standing room only' after being swamped by more than 100,000 cases of the H3N2 strain.

The elderly with their compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible, and a spike in cases among young children has also been shown.

The flu season in the UK and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere tends to mirror what has happened in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.

The same strains of the virus will circulate north in time for the British flu season, which typically begins in November and lasts until March.

Flu viruses are constantly changing proteins on their surface to avoid detection by the body's immune system - making it more deadly.

This transformation is called an 'antigenic shift' if it's large enough, and can lead to a pandemic.

This was responsible for the swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The Aussie flu is transforming quickly, but not fast enough for experts to describe it as a shift.

However, it is slowly building up immunity.

WHERE CAN YOU GET THE FLU JAB?
Flu can be a serious illness. If you become very ill with it, it can cause complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle, and kidney failure. People at most risk of serious illness or death if they get flu are offered the vaccine on the NHS. Ideally you should have this before the end of December, when flu peaks (it takes about two weeks after the jab for antibodies to develop completely). At-risk groups include anyone aged 65 and over; people living in long-stay residential care homes; carers and pregnant women. The vaccine is also offered to anyone aged six months to 65 years with certain conditions, such as diabetes. It is available via your GP's surgery. All children aged two to eleven (on August 31, 2017) are also offered the vaccine as a nasal spray. The UK introduced the child vaccination programme in 2013 — last year, the vaccine had 66 per cent effectiveness. Australia does not have a similar programme. If you don't qualify to have the jab on the NHS, you can pay to get it at a pharmacy. Well Pharmacy charges £9 to £14 (depending on the number of strains in the vaccine), Superdrug from £9.99, Lloyds Pharmacy £10, Boots £12.99, and Tesco £9. Older children who fall outside the NHS scheme can get the nasal spray vaccine from some pharmacies such as Well (£23 for those aged between two and 18; this may involve a second dose at least four weeks later for another £23) and the injection for those 12 and over for £9. Boots offers the jab to those aged 16 and over at £12.99. Tesco offers it to those 12 and over at £9.



CDC quietly postpones nuclear war prep briefing to focus on the flu epidemic instead [FierceHealthcare, 15 Jan 2018]

by Ilene MacDonald

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The CDC reports that the most recent hospitalization rate for the flu was 22.7 per 100,000 people. (Image: CDC.gov)

The nationwide flu epidemic has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to postpone its planned briefing on preparation for nuclear war and replace the topic with how healthcare officials can respond to severe influenza.

The previously scheduled briefing on how public health officials should respond to a nuclear detonation raised alarm bells given the announcement in the wake of President Donald Trump’s tweet about North Korea and a nuclear button. And this weekend residents of Hawaii were sent into panic when a false alert urged them of an incoming missile attack.

In the announcement for the nuclear war preparation briefing, the agency said nuclear detonation is unlikely but if an event were to occur healthcare professionals must understand how planning and preparation efforts are similar and different from other emergency responses.

But on Friday the CDC changed the topic scheduled for Jan. 16 to the public health response to severe influenza. The agency said that due to the spike in flu cases around the country, the grand rounds session will offer the latest information for public health professions on how to reduce the spread of the seasonal flu and how to adjust to spot shortages of antiviral drugs.

The agency said it will reschedule the topic on nuclear detonation response but didn’t list a new date.

The flu has hit all areas of the country and the CDC reports that the most recent hospitalization rate for the illness was 22.7 per 100,000 people. The week prior it was 13.7 per 100,000 people. The flu also led to the death of seven children last week, the agency said. In total 20 children have died this season from the flu.

Indeed, hospital emergency rooms and doctor offices across the country have been swamped with cases of the flu. In a media briefing, Dan Jernigan, the director of the Influenza Division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said this is the first year since his office has tracked flu maps that the entire continental United States has had a widespread flu outbreak, USA Today reports.

In Rhode Island, emergency departments at three Providence hospitals had to divert ambulances to other facilities because they were overwhelmed with patients, the Providence Journal reported. On the West Coast, hospitals in San Diego county also were inundated with patients and Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa had to set up a "surge" tent outside the entrance its ER to triage patients with flu-like symptoms, in order to be able to triage patients with flu symptoms, according to NBC 7 San Diego.

In Alabama, WBRC reports that the surge in flu cases forced UAB Hospital to reschedule non-urgent elective surgeries that required hospitalizations, and Arizona state officials said the flu is so widespread that it has caused ER wait times to increase across the country, according to ABC 15 Arizona.


Aussie flu and swine flu epidemic warning as Cornwall fifth worst for infection in the UK [Cornwall Live, 15 Jan 2018]

By Mike Smallcombe

Numbers battling the virus have rocketed 78%


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Flu is on the brink of epidemic levels in parts of England ? with Cornwall among the worst for infections.

Numbers battling the virus have rocketed 78% in a week, says the Royal College of GPs.

Separate stats reveal GP flu consultations in Cornwall are at 85.8 per 100,000 people, the fifth-highest in the entire country.

A level of 108.9 per 100,000 signals an epidemic.

The worst hit area is York (104.2), followed by Herefordshire (99.7), Gateshead (88.2), Hampshire (86.8) and Cornwall.

The average across England is 34.9.

Meanwhile, experts have warned the crisis may get worse before it improves.

Prof Simon de Lusignan, of the Royal College of GPs, told The Sun: “We can certainly say that last week was when flu in England took off.

"However, given how unpredictable flu can be, it is impossible to say how this will progress. Rates may increase, level out or even decline.”

Aussie flu (H3N2) and swine flu (H1N1) are the main strains circulating at present.

As Aussie flu continues to hit the country, separate warnings have been issued around French flu and Japanese flu.

Three strains are proving problematic for Brits as winter rages on - but what are the signs and symptoms, and which is worse?


A severe flu season is stretching hospitals thin. That is a very bad omen [STAT, 15 Jan 2018]

By HELEN BRANSWELL

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A nurse administers antibiotics to a patient at a hospital in Toledo, Ohio.

A tsunami of sick people has swamped hospitals in many parts of the country in recent weeks as a severe flu season has taken hold. In Rhode Island, hospitals diverted ambulances for a period because they were overcome with patients. In San Diego, a hospital erected a tent outside its emergency room to manage an influx of people with flu symptoms.

Wait times at scores of hospitals have gotten longer.

But if something as foreseeable as a flu season ? albeit one that is pretty severe ? is stretching health care to its limits, what does that tell us about the ability of hospitals to handle the next flu pandemic?

That question worries experts in the field of emergency preparedness, who warn that funding cuts for programs that help hospitals and public health departments plan for outbreaks and other large-scale events have eroded the very infrastructure society will need to help it weather these types of crises.

“There’s nothing really that can impact on a national level ? or for that matter on an international level ? more quickly than influenza,” warned Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

A dozen years ago or so, government officials placed pandemic influenza preparedness efforts on the front burner because of fears that a dangerous bird flu strain ? spreading quickly across Asia at the time ? might trigger a catastrophic pandemic.

Those worries were focused on H5N1, a poultry flu virus that infects few people but kills more than half of those confirmed to have been infected.

Then in 2009, the first flu pandemic in four decades did hit. But instead of bird flu, it was a swine flu virus called H1N1. There were not mass casualties. In fact, the global death toll was estimated at just over 200,000 ? fewer people than the World Health Organization says die from seasonal influenza most years.

Pandemic influenza lost its big, bad bogeyman status. And in the years since, budgets for preparedness work have suffered.

“It’s true to some degree that we’re even more vulnerable now than we were at the time when H1N1 hit,” said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, head of infectious diseases for the Seattle & King County public health department.

“We did learn a lot during the H1N1 outbreak about how to do things better,” Duchin noted. “But we haven’t invested in turning those learnings into action and better preparedness…. After H1N1, it’s pretty much fallen off the radar.”

Hospital and public health preparedness programs have sustained cuts in the order of about 30 percent in recent years, said Dr. Oscar Alleyne, a senior adviser with the National Association of County and City Health Officials, adding: “The level of funding is a concern to us.”

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Congress freed up money to help hospitals plan for and respond to mass casualty events, said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University.

That has helped institutions respond to contained events ? incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings or last year’s Las Vegas shooting, Inglesby noted. “But when you start scaling up beyond that and you introduce the variable of contagious disease, hospitals are pretty brittle,” he warned.



See the benefits of cross protection against swine influenza [www.thepigsite.com, 12 Jan 2018]

By Micah L. Jansen

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Can you see swine influenza in your operation right away? Often, we can’t answer this question just by looking because clinical signs aren’t always visible, even when disease is present.[1]

It is easy to see how quickly this hidden challenge can get out of control. Vaccination can help protect pigs from respiratory challenges and costly economic losses due to influenza. More specifically, vaccination with FluSure XP[レジスタードトレードマーク] or FluSure XP combination vaccines offers broad cross-protection against the most relevant strains of influenza in swine to help you be more in control. Here’s how:

Help Protect Against More Strains

A vaccine that helps protect against one strain does not always cross-protect against other strains. Swine influenza A virus (IAV-S) has evolved into more than one subtype and cluster that continues to menace veterinarians and producers trying to help prevent respiratory disease. Swine influenza is complicated, so I recommend this video and article to help provide clarity about the changing genetic and antigenic characteristics of IAV-S field strains and exactly what you need to consider cross-protecting against.

Coverage Against the Most Relevant Strains

Because of the rapid pace of IAV-S genetic changes and transmission, vaccines used for disease prevention need to be updated regularly to maintain efficacy against the most important IAV-S subtypes and clusters currently circulating in swine. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) surveillance, H1N1 Gamma, H1N2 Delta-1 and H3N2 Cluster IV-A are the most prevalent strains of IAV-S that can impact U.S. farms today.[2] The FluSure XP vaccine family was updated in late 2016 to meet the changing antigenic picture to help protect against these most prevalent IAV-S strains. Additionally, Zoetis has ongoing surveillance monitoring in place to help us ensure we are helping provide the right protection for your pigs now and in the future.

Demonstrated Protection

The influenza virus can spread rapidly through herds ? even herds with pre-existing immunity.[3] A vaccine that has been demonstrated to be up to this challenge can help give you peace of mind. FluSure XP has demonstrated protection against the most prevalent swine influenza strains ? Delta-1 H1N2, Gamma H1N1 and H3N2 Cluster IV-A2,[4,5] ? as well as cross-protection against H3N2 Cluster IV-B, H1N1 alpha and H1N1 beta.[5-8] In one study, when pigs vaccinated with FluSure XP were challenged with a virulent H3N2 Cluster IV-A strain, protection was demonstrated by reduction of lung lesions, rectal temperature, nasal shedding and viral titer in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid at necropsy.[4]

Protection Right When You Need It

We typically think of flu season being in the fall and winter months, but swine influenza can strike at any time. No matter when influenza threatens, you need a vaccine that’s available right when you need it. In the time it can take to create an autogenous vaccine, disease could already be spreading. Plus, autogenous vaccines often lack demonstrated efficacy against all the most relevant strains.

This information provides only a small look at some of the advantages and results you’ll see from a vaccine that offers cross-protection against different swine influenza strains. In our next article, we’ll take a look at some real-world results that a couple operations found by rethinking their vaccination program. For additional guidance on managing swine influenza, I encourage you to work with your veterinarian. For more information and resources, please visit FluSureXP.com

About Zoetis

Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2016, the company generated annual revenue of $4.9 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetisUS.com.

References:

1 Corzo C, Gramer M, Lowe J, Webby R. Swine influenza active surveillance in the United States, in Proceedings. 6th Inter Symp Emerg Re-emerg Pig Dis 2011;Abstract 30.

2 Veterinary Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, US Department of Agriculture. Influenza A Virus in Swine Surveillance: Fiscal Year 2017 Quarterly Report; Surveillance Summary for Third Quarter FY 2017. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/swine/downloads/fy2017quarter3swinereport.pdf. Published July 2017. Accessed September 9, 2017.

3 Sandbulte MR, Spickler AR, Zaabel PK, Roth JA. Optimal use of vaccines for control of influenza A virus in swine. Vaccines. 2015;3(1):22-73.

4 Data on file, Study Report No. B820R-US-14-436, Zoetis Inc.

5 FluSure XP[レジスタードトレードマーク] [package insert]. Kalamazoo, Mich: Zoetis Inc., 2016.

6 Kitikoon P, Thacker E, Nilubol D, et al. Immune response and effect of maternal antibody interference on vaccination with bivalent swine influenza virus vaccine, in Proceedings. Amer Assoc Swine Vet 2005;363-365.

7 Gramer M, Rossow K. Epidemiology of swine influenza and implications of reassortment. Proceedings. Allen D. Leman Swine Conf 2004;69-73.

8 Rapp-Gabrielson V, Wicklund E, Ficken M. Efficacy of FluSure against challenge with heterologous reassortant swine influenza H1N1 viruses, in Proceedings. Allen D. Leman Swine Conf 2005;32(Supplement):14.


The H3N2 flu virus is known as the hospitalizer. Here’s why. [The Daily Breeze, 10 Jan 2018]

By SUSAN ABRAM

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 The H3N2 flu virus is known as the hospitalizer. Here’s why.

Stay home. Don’t go to work. Keep sick children out of school.

That’s some of the stern advice Los Angeles County health officials offered on Wednesday to people and their loved ones suffering from coughs, sneezes, aches and fevers as a result of the flu circulating at elevated levels throughout the region. Health officials also continued to urge the public to get vaccinated.

The advice came a day after a state epidemiologist told reporters that this could be the worst influenza season since 2009, when the H1N1 or Swine flu pandamic killed 12,469 people nationwide.

At a news conference at their downtown Los Angeles office, county public health officials said it was not too late to get the flu vaccine, since they said it perfectly protects against three of four of the strains circulating. They also said that because the flu season started a month earlier than usual and its peak has yet to be identified, the bug could circulate for a longer period of time.

“We’ve seen an elevation in the number of outbreaks that have been reported to us from nursing homes and other congregate living facilities,” said Dr. Sharon Balter, director of acute communicable disease control for Los Angeles County. “All this points to an earlier and somewhat more severe flu season this year than last year.”


H1N1 flu not lethal, but prevention vital: expert [The News, 10 Jan 2018]

by M. Waqar Bhatti

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Karachi has regularly reported H1N1 influenza (swine flu) cases in the months of December and January since 2009, but this particular strain is not causing any severe infection, as its mortality rate is only 0.1 per cent, or one in a thousand, an expert told The News on Tuesday.

The Sindh Health Department has also woken up after H1N1 flu cases surfaced, as they have decided to launch an awareness campaign, establish control rooms in all the districts of the province, direct public hospitals to report suspected flu cases and to purchase flu vaccines.

“This disease used to be known as swine flu, but the World Health Organisation renamed it as the H1N1/09 pandemic, and since 2009 its cases are being reported in Karachi in the months of December and January,” says Dr Bushra Jamil, head of Infectious Diseases Department at Aga Khan University Hospital. “So far Aga Khan University Hospital has received 100 suspected patients, of which 43 were tested positive for influenza. Of them, 38 were infected with the H1N1/09 pandemic.”

Dr Bushra warns that seasonal influenza can prove to be lethal for children under the age of five, the elderly over 55 years of age, and those afflicted with asthma, cancer, diabetes or compromised immunity.

She urges people to get the flu vaccine, which is available in the market for a few hundred rupees so they can protect themselves from the disease. “Although this influenza is different from the common cold, this is not as lethal as it was in 1918 or in 2009. The symptoms include high fever with pain in the body, cough, sneezing and headache. In case of complications, the patient may find it difficult to breathe, may vomit or get an upset stomach.”

She advises people to adopt coughing etiquettes in case they contract the flu so they can protect others from the highly infectious disease. She says that people can use paracetamol in case of fever, and that they should consume plenty of fluids and rest a lot. She stresses providing supportive care to flu patients.

She says the flu virus transmits among humans in three ways: by direct contact with infected individuals, by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces, and by inhaling virus-laden aerosols or droplets when a person sneezes and coughs without covering their mouth.
“Instead of using their hand to cover their mouth while sneezing and coughing, they should use their arm to cover their face so that their hands are not infected with the influenza virus.

Washing hands after shaking hands with infected people or touching surfaces also reduces the risk of contracting the flu.”

Meanwhile, the health department has asked all the major public hospitals in the province, especially those in Karachi, to report suspected flu cases to the health authorities despite the fact that no public hospital in the province is equipped to detect H1N1 flu.

The News has learnt that the only machine capable of conducting the test to detect H1N1 flu is lying useless at the Civil Hospital Karachi due to unavailability of the relevant kits, but the authorities decided not to order them because it would be a “waste of time and money”. “The health department has decided that flu vaccines will be purchased, public awareness campaigns will be launched through banners and posters and control rooms will be established in every district,” said an official.


The influenza pandemic of 100 years ago killed many [Gloversville Leader-Herald, 8 Jan 2018]

By PETER BETZ

Two thousand eighteen is notable as the 180th anniversary of Fulton County, but it’s also notable as the hundredth anniversary of the great Influenza pandemic which killed more people than both world wars. Starting in January 1918 and continuing worldwide for the next 15 months, the so-called “Spanish influenza” (now believed to have actually started on pig farms in Haskell County, Kansas), didn’t decline before killing more than 50 million people, some in our local counties.

The purpose of this article isn’t to repeat the story of this worldwide devastation, but to relate how it affected our own upstate world, and for that we need only consult contemporary newspaper articles preserved in the Leader Herald’s ‘morgue’.

The flu arrived here in early fall. The Oct. 5, 1918 Morning Herald gave an accounting of the influenza’s local progress in two articles. One titled, “Spanish Influenza Still Continues Its Rapid Spread” related the influenza’s international progress, but another of greater importance here, was headlined, “Sweeping Orders by City Health Officer.” It informed nervous readers, “Theaters and all places of amusement are closed, while ban is placed on all public gatherings; churches will be closed entirely on Sunday. Some local physicians are of opinion the epidemic won’t be stamped out until all factories and shops are closed.”

Gloversville’s health officer was Dr. A.L. Johnson. The previous Thursday, the Herald related, Dr. Johnson was given complete authority by the Board of Health to do everything necessary to contain the epidemic.

People were dying: the deadly influenza citizens had read about for months was no longer elsewhere: it was here. Dr. Johnson’s ‘sweeping orders’ closed all schools, churches, movie theaters, dance halls, skating rinks and “all other places where people congregate in large numbers.”

But Johnson’s measures apparently should have been taken much sooner: in a matter of only three weeks in late September and early October, Gloversville experienced over 1,500 cases, with the number growing daily.

The Morning Herald expressed criticism of city government for not empowering Johnson sooner, editorializing, “Much more toward stamping out the disease could have been accomplished had the Board of Health acted earlier. The action of Health Officer Johnson is the only effective way to check further spread of the germ, but to have accomplished the greater good, should have been taken several days ago”.

Even at that, local ministers first balked at closing churches, and factory owners refused outright to close for even a few days.

A week later, on Oct. 12, the Herald ran another headline simply stating, “The Situation Is Unchanged”.

By this date, beleaguered Dr. Johnson had added virtually every remaining type of public venue to his don’t-go-there list, and statistics were grim: “New cases are reported daily and there are deaths daily.” In the midst of this chaos, the Herald expressed what seems now a rather naive viewpoint on the situation.

It tried soothing frayed public nerves by prophesying, “If everyone just takes safe courses to keep from catching the influenza, or takes the precaution to call a physician as soon as they have taken to their beds, the epidemic will be adequately checked.”

Oddly, while Gloversville was battling well over 1,500 cases on Oct. 5 and experiencing a death rate averaging three victims per day, on that same date, Amsterdam, with a higher population, reported only 50 cases, and its health officer, Dr. Hicks, refused to close any public places until the city was “visited by the disease in full force.”

Before the influenza finally subsided in late November, the ‘carpet city’ experienced fewer than 500 cases and considerably fewer deaths than Gloversville.

On Oct. 8, Hicks solicited “volunteers to work with the Department of Health fighting the epidemic threatening the city. Men and women, young and old, plus automobiles, are needed.”

Once ill, people called their doctor and prayed for relief, but nothing helped beyond taking to bed, waiting it out, and hoping one’s constitution was strong enough to outlast the ravenous ‘bug’.
Nevertheless, fast buck opportunists offered various medications supposed to help, unless of course they didn’t. One hot seller was a pill called “Fruit-a-Tives.”

Made by “The Fruit-a-Tive Limited Company at Ogdensburg”, the company was at least honest enough to admit, “It is not a germ killer. It is a body builder, a strength-maker, a blood purifier, a power in protection against ravages of disease, available from your local druggist at only fifty cents per box.”

With or without swallowing ‘Fruit-a-Tives’, new cases gradually diminished. By early November, schools restarted, churches and businesses reopened, and all three of our bi-county cities began reestablishing normal existences. Although influenza deaths had broken spirits and emptied chairs at family tables, people’s attention rapidly retuned to food rationing, coal shortages, and more deaths caused by our involvement in World War I.

Among old family papers, I once discovered a rolled-up 1918 ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ awarded to my grandmother, signed by New York Gov. Al Smith, in recognition for her service as one of those Amsterdam influenza-fighting volunteers. She never spoke of it, and I only discovered it well after she’d passed on. I asked my mother why grandmother never mentioned it and was informed that, while grandmother was proud of it, she was a staunch Republican, Al Smith was a Democrat, and it wouldn’t have been like her to brag about the connection.


Hospitals busy as Michigan flu season gains power [Crain's Detroit Business, 8 Jan 2018]

By JAY GREENE

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 The best way to prevent getting and spreading the flu is to get a flu shot each year, health officials say.

・Flu season in Michigan expected to gain intensity this month
・Flu symptoms hit Michiganders earlier this year than in past three years
・Hospitals busy treating flu and respiratory patients

Michigan's flu season appears to be gaining intensity with spikes in hospitalizations, emergency department visits and the numbers of primary care outpatient visits for flu-like and respiratory illnesses trending higher than last year and above Midwest regional averages, according to the latest report from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

With January and February being the peak months for the influenza virus, hospital ER visits and hospitalizations at Michigan hospitals had been in normal ranges in mid-December, but have ticked up the past several weeks some three months into flu season, MDHHS officials said.

Detroit Medical Center's Teena Chopra, M.D., a hospitalist and corporate medical director of epidemiology, said DMC's six hospitals are seeing an increase in patients presenting with the flu in the emergency room and outpatient areas.

"It is very much in line with activity in the region," she said. "We are seeing more visits, including at Children's Hospital, a combination of flu and RSV" (respiratory syncytial virus).

Chopra said patients are presenting with high-grade fevers and body aches. Children are more affected by RSV, which is like the flu but with more coughing and mucous with a slightly lower fever, but it can affect all people.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, aches of all types, a runny or stuffy nose and fatigue. Other symptoms could include nausea and diarrhea.

Seth Eckel, Michigan's respiratory disease epidemiologist, said recent voluntary data in late December from hospitals, physician offices and outpatient primary care clinics shows a slight increase in flu-like illnesses, hospitalizations and respiratory illnesses.

"It's been pretty steady (starting in October), but it's been slowly been picking up the last couple weeks," Eckel said. "Over the past five years, the indicators are earlier than usual, except for the 2014-15 season. There is no reason for higher numbers (earlier this year than in previous years).

Costs of flu

Each year, 5 percent to 20 percent of the population nationally get the flu each year ? and some 36,000 people die ? at a cost of $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses to individuals and businesses, according to the CDC.

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 Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the uptick in flu activity in Michigan since the fall.

Since Oct. 1 in Michigan there have been no pediatric or adult deaths attributed to the flu. In a five-county sample area, there were seven pediatric and 77 adult hospitalizations. Counties sampled were Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Genesee and Washtenaw. Nationally, there have been 12 pediatric and more than 350 adult deaths, the CDC said.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the so-called "bird flu," the average cost of a patient hospital stay was $11,000 compared to $8,500 during the 2008 flu season, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

On Dec. 30, the CDC issued a health alert for more than 36 states that reported widespread flu activity, up from 23 states in mid-December. The CDC said a majority of flu cases reported so have been of H3N2 (influenza A), a strong viral strain that is difficult to knock out with flu vaccines.

While Michigan was not listed last month as one of the 36 states with widespread flu activity, the CDC report said Michigan has "widespread" flu activity, meaning that flu symptoms have been found in most areas of the state.

Other Midwest states with widespread flu health alerts include Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Michigan flu hospitalization rate is considered regional and not widespread, as the other Midwest states, the number of outpatient visits for flu symptoms is in line with nearby states.

The latest CDC report shows that outpatient visits for flu-like illnesses increased to 4.7 percent during the last week of 2017, up from 2.8 percent in mid-December, far higher than the regional 1.8 percent Midwest average. Nationally, 5.7 percent of outpatient visits are due to flu symptoms compared with the baseline average of 2.2 percent.

In Michigan, of the 251 patients who tested positive for flu virus infections about 85 percent had the A strain of the flu and 15 percent had the B strain. Nationally, influenza A is 87 percent and the B strain is 13 percent.
It's not unusual for doctors and hospitals to see more patients during the coldest part of the winter flu season, ER doctors said.

Steve McGraw, M.D., chairman of the emergency department at Providence-Providence Park Hospital in Southfield, said he has been busy seeing patients with flu symptoms and ER visits have been steady, yet so far fairly average.

"We are seeing lots of flu and I am seeing impact to my practice, but we are not just seeing it a point that we are concerned that this year will be memorable. Not anything like 2014. That was a really rough year," McGraw said.

McGraw said St. John Providence hasn't yet seen any higher than usual senior or pediatric hospital admissions for the flu. But he said the worst part of the season is coming in mid-January.

As bitter cold ends, illness picks up

The recent extreme cold weather could be one reason Michigan could be running about 1 percentage point lower than national averages for the flu. "Bitter cold temperatures knock the flu down a bit. People stay home. When you seen milder breaks, you see people expose each other. That's not happening now," McGraw said.

For more than a week, metro Detroit and most of Michigan endured temperatures under 20 degrees. Colder air from the arctic hit Michigan, dropping temperatures close to zero with wind chills making the air feel 15 to 25 degrees below zero.

This week, however, metro Detroit's temperatures are expected to be closer to normal in the low- to mid-30s and above.

"The flu is unpredictable and it is still early" in the season, Chopra said. "As soon as school opens up (after holiday break), we will see more flu activity," she said. "Whenever people are gathered in close contact ... there will be higher numbers."

Chopra said the deadly cold weather also is causing more patients to go to the ER at Detroit Receiving Hospital. "They end up in the ICUs with hypothermia. We see a lot of homeless patients come in," she said.

The best way to combat the flu, McGraw said, is to get an annual flu shot.

"The elderly and the very young or those with chronic conditions tend to be hit the roughest with the flu," McGraw said. "We treat all influenzas the same. When you have the flu you try to prevent spreading it. Minimize contact. Stay home; don't send your kids to school. Washing hands and covering your cough or sneeze."

McGraw said he has heard many pharmacies are running out of Tamiflu, a prescription medication that helps shorten the duration of the flu and may help shed some of the virus. "Antibiotics don't work. I wish they did," he said.


Rare type of flu virus is why 2018 outbreak is ‘worst in living memory’ [Raw Story, 4 Jan 2018]

By DAVID FERGUSON

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Young woman patient lying at hospital bed feeling sad and depressed worried. (Shutterstock)

New Scientist magazine has called 2018 “The Year of the Flu” because this year’s influenza outbreak is showing signs of being the most lethal and severe since the 1918 “Great Influenza” pandemic that infected a third of the world’s population and killed between 20 and 50 million people.

People can acquire immunity to flu strains through contracting the virus or receiving a flu shot, but the virus is constantly mutating and multiple strains often circulate simultaneously. Strains of influenza are categorized by two letters, ‘H’ and ‘N,” which stand for hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, two proteins in the surface structure of the virus.

New Scientist‘s Deborah MacKenzie wrote, “A record number of flu strains are currently circulating, two in the influenza B group and two influenza A strains, H1N1 and H3N2. H3N2 is the real problem. Our strongest immunity is to the first kind of flu we caught. Between 1918 and 1968, no H3N2 viruses circulated as winter flu, so people born before 1968 have weaker immunity to it.”

Four times as many deaths occur in flu seasons dominated by H3N2, says the National Institute of Health (NIH) and elderly people are typically among the most vulnerable.

“This year’s H3N2 seems to be especially severe: in Australia in the winter just past, it caused more than three-quarters of all flu cases (see diagram),” MacKenzie said, “and more than 2.5 times more people than usual sought medical help. The likelihood of dying was relatively high, with most deaths among elderly people ? although not all.”

The 1918 flu pandemic killed healthy adults as well as the elderly and very young. A pandemic is when a virus emerges that isn’t the normal variation of the previous year’s mutation, but a completely novel mutation against which the broad population has no immunity.

“In 1918, many people over 71 were also protected, since a related winter virus seems to have circulated before 1847,” MacKenzie wrote. “But the Spanish flu was a bird flu that learned to transmit between mammals, and was equipped with fast gene-replicating enzymes that were adapted well to birds, but deadly in mammals. Young adults especially died in droves.”

The 1918 flu killed its victims via their own bodies’ attempts to defend against it. Patients drowned when their lungs filled with blood and other fluids as their systems frantically tried to fight off the invading virus.

Victims’ lungs would become so degraded that air would escape into their other tissues, causing syndromes called pneumomediastin and subcutaneous emphysema. Nurses named the syndrome “Rice Krispie skin” because the bubbles of trapped gas under the skin would raise blisters in the flesh that crackled when patients were moved.

Scientists are still struggling to understand what makes some flu viruses more lethal than others. The key seems to be a combination of the virus’ own built-in weaponry and our immune system’s ability to recognize the virus as a threat and take action against it.

Derek Smith at the University of Cambridge told New Scientist that this year’s H3N2 ? nicknamed the “Aussie flu” ? strain could be taking advantage of both.

Fortunately, the Aussie flu ? while highly infective and severe ? is not expected to be as lethal as the 1918 pandemic, but it could be enough to wake the world to the threat posed by a disease that most people think of as an inconvenience, not a lethal threat.

A killer pandemic is on the way, however.

MacKenzie said, “The real problem, say epidemiologists, is that flu is so familiar. It can be mild ? except when it isn’t. Until we recognize flu for the killer it is, we won’t do better at stopping it.”


Remembering 1951: The Year Seasonal Flu Went Rogue [Avian Flu Diary, 2 Jan 2018]

#13,022

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The nearly 20 year roller-coaster of flu season P&I (pneumonia and influenza) mortality figures (see above) - lifted and stitched together from multiple CDC's FluView reports - illustrates nicely the variability in intensity of flu seasons in the United States since 1999.

Some non-pandemic seasons - such as 1999-2000, 2003-2004, 2007-2008, 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 - are clearly rougher than others (like 2000-2001, 2002-2003, and 2011-2012), when P&I mortality barely reached the epidemic threshold.


While warnings go out every year that flu can be deadly and that it claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year (see The Lancet: Estimates Of Global Seasonal Flu Respiratory Mortality, this year we appear on track for a particularly rough season across North America.

The predominant strain is H3N2, which hits the elderly particularly hard and against which the vaccine is expected to provide only modest protection, and the season has started early.

While we appear to have all of the ingredients in place for the makings of a bad flu season, it is worth remembering what happened during the winter of 1951 - starting in Liverpool, England - that came essentially without warning.


Across the Northern Hemisphere, the winter of 1950-1951 had been an average flu year, with the dominant flu called the `Scandinavian strain', which produced mild illness in most of its victims. In fact, if you look at a graph of flu activity for the United States, running from 1945 to 1956, you'll see nary a blip.

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But in December of 1950 a new strain of virulent influenza appeared in Liverpool, England, and by late spring, had spread across much of England, Wales, and Canada. While we've looked at this event before, it has been a few years, and today seems a good day to revisit the impact of rogue flu years.

The following comes from an absolutely fascinating EID Journal article: Viboud C, Tam T, Fleming D, Miller MA, Simonsen L. 1951 influenza epidemic, England and Wales, Canada, and the United States.

The 1951 influenza epidemic (A/H1N1) caused an unusually high death toll in England; in particular, weekly deaths in Liverpool even surpassed those of the 1918 pandemic. . . . . Why this epidemic was so severe in some areas but not others remains unknown and highlights major gaps in our understanding of interpandemic influenza.


According to this study, the effects on the city of origin, Liverpool, were horrendous.

In Liverpool, where the epidemic was said to originate, it was "the cause of the highest weekly death toll, apart from aerial bombardment, in the city's vital statistics records, since the great cholera epidemic of 1849" (5). This weekly death toll even surpassed that of the 1918 influenza pandemic (Figure 1)


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This extraordinary graph shows the excess deaths in Liverpool during this outbreak (red line), while the black line shows the peak deaths during the 1918 pandemic. This chart shows excess deaths by A) respiratory causes (pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis) and B) all causes.

For roughly 5 weeks Liverpool saw an incredible spike in deaths due to this new influenza. And it didn’t just affect Liverpool. While it appears not to have spread as easily as the dominant Scandinavian strain, it managed to infect large areas of England, Wales, and Canada over the ensuing months.

The authors of this study describe the spread of this new influenza:

Geographic and Temporal Spread

Influenza activity started to increase in Liverpool, England, in late December 1950 (5,13). The weekly death rate reached a peak in mid-January 1951 that was ?40% higher than the peak of the 1918?19 pandemic, reflecting a rapid and unprecedented increase in deaths, which lasted for ?5 weeks [5 ] and Figure 1).


Since the early 20th century, the geographic spread of influenza could be followed across England from the weekly influenza mortality statistics in the country's largest cities, which represented half of the British population (13). During January 1951, the epidemic spread within 2 to 3 weeks from Liverpool throughout the rest of the country.


For Canada, the first report of influenza illness came the third week of January from Grand Falls, Newfoundland (19). Within a week, the epidemic had reached the eastern provinces, and influenza subsequently spread rapidly westward (19).


For the United States, substantial increases in influenza illness and excess deaths were reported in New England from February to April 1951, at a level unprecedented since the severe 1943-44 influenza season. Much milder epidemics occurred later in the spring elsewhere in the country (9).

Perhaps most telling is this graph showing the death rates in England and Wales between 1950 and 1971, which incorporates the no-name outbreak of 1951, and the 1957 and 1968 pandemics. As you can see, the 1951 event was more severe than either of the two `official' pandemics.

deathratesEnglandWales_thumb[5].jpg


Crude death rates (blue bars), death rates adjusted for summer trends in mortality unrelated to influenza (pink bars).

Getting started relatively late in the flu season, this new strain never managed to spread much beyond UK and Eastern Canada. Nor did it reappear the following flu season. It simply vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.

A good thing, considering its virulence. A return the following year could have sparked a global pandemic.

As far as I know, there are no isolates or genetic sequences available for this rogue flu virus, and so the reasons behind its unusual virulence remain a mystery.

While most striking, 1951 isn't the only pseudo-pandemic year in the 20th century. The second one - which struck while I was an impossibly young paramedic back in the mid-1970s - was the so-called `Russian Flu' of 1977.

From 1918 through 1976 we’d seen three influenza A pandemics (1918, 1957, 1968) and each time the pandemic virus completely supplanted the previously circulating influenza A virus. The descendents of the 1918 H1N1 virus reigned supreme (and alone) until it was unseated by H2N2 in 1957. H2N2 held court until H3N2 pushed it aside eleven years later.

There were certainly influenza B viruses in the mix, but the norm appeared to be only one influenza A subtype each flu season.


In 1977, however, a second influenza A virus abruptly appeared, or rather - re-appeared ? and began circulating along side H3N2. A throwback to the 1950s, the 1977 H1N1 `Russian flu’ was generally mild in adults, but hit children and adolescents born before 1957 the hardest.

Since 1977 we’ve seen two influenza A subtypes co-circulate every year. Even when the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus completely supplanted the old (1977) H1N1 virus, H3N2 continued to circulate.


For years scientists have tried to explain how a virus ? gone from the wild for 20 years ? could just suddenly reappear. Particularly one that was practically identical to a strain last seen more than a quarter of a century before.

The most popular (and plausible) theory has been that of an accidental release from a Russian or Chinese research facility, but solid evidence remains lacking (see mBio The Reemergent 1977 H1N1 Strain and the Gain-of-Function Debate.)

While we wait, and watch carefully, for signs of a novel flu making the jump to humans, it is important to remember that seasonal flu can increase in virulence, transmissibility, or overall impact with little or no warning.

Sometimes it is for reasons we can see coming, such as when a virus `drifts' away from the current vaccine over the summer (see CDC HAN Advisory On `Drifted’ H3N2 Seasonal Flu Virus).

Other times it can be due to an unpredictable mutation that increases virulence, such as D222G which is linked to deeper lung infections and greater virulence, which we saw described during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

This relatively rare amino acid substitution at position 222 (225 using H3 numbering) from aspartic acid (D) to glycine (G) allows the virus to bind to receptors found deeper in the lungs, and is linked to the development of more severe pneumonia.

Since 2009 we've seen this mutation appear sporadically among H1N1 viruses in Russia, India, and the United States (see EID Journal: Emergence of D225G Variant A/H1N1, 2013?14 Flu Season, Florida.

The good news, at least with D222G, is that its incidence has been low ( < 2%) and a 2013 study in EuroSurveillance: Revisiting The D222G Mutation In A/H1N1pdm09, suggested viruses with this mutation don’t transmit well in the wild, and that most of the time this variant comes about through a spontaneous mutation in the host after the host has been infected.


We have just entered the 100th anniversary year of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, and a good deal will justifiably be written and said about that catastrophic event over the next 12 months. I'm sure I'll be contributing my share in this blog.

But it is also important to remember that `no-name' interpandemic flu seasons can kill tens . . . sometimes hundreds . . . of thousands of people in a matter of just a few months.


Influenza & Pneumonia are listed as the 8th leading cause of death in the United States, and there are studies to suggest that ranking is low, as it only counts deaths directly attributed to respiratory infections.

Last year, in Int. Med. J.: Triggering Of Acute M.I. By Respiratory Infection we looked at research from the University of Sydney that found the risk of a heart attack is increased 17-fold in the week following a respiratory infection such as influenza or pneumonia.


Given its impact, and unpredictability, I'm continually amazed that seasonal influenza isn't taken as a serious health threat by the public.

Many people sitll go to work, or school, sick. Too many don't cover their coughs and sneezes in public, or use hand sanitizer. And many eschew the vaccine.

Hopefully it won't take another `Liverpool flu'-like event for seasonal influenza to gain the street creds it truly deserves.

Posted by Michael Coston
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 1 till 4 Jan 2018


South Korea to Cull 197,000 Chickens after New Case of Bird Flu Discovered [Latin American Herald Tribune, 4 Jan 2018]



SEOUL – Some 197,000 chickens at a farm close to the South Korean capital city were culled after a new case of avian influenza was discovered, the South Korean government said on Wednesday after imposing a 48-hour ban on transporting poultry products in the north of the country.

The farm in question is located in Pocheon, 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Seoul, and had recorded the deaths of 30 birds since Tuesday, with preliminary tests showing that they were infected with bird flu, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said.

In order to prevent the virus from spreading, the government has decided to cull the birds and inspect farms located within a 3-kilometer radius of the affected site.

Inquiries were ongoing to determine whether the case involves the same highly pathogenic strain currently affecting the southwest of the country.

The latest case, the first of its kind in the northern province of Gyeonggi, has caused alarm among quarantine officials, who have been fighting to contain the expansion of the H5N6 strain in the southwest of the country since November.

In the province of Jeolla, one of the worst affected, the government confirmed on Wednesday that nine farms had been infected by the virulent strain.

Some 36,700 birds have been culled in three provinces, and disinfection processes were being carried out in farms in the whole region.

After an H5N6 infection was discovered in the area in December, authorities culled 201,000 ducks.

The World Health Organization classifies viruses that cause severe disease in poultry and result in high death rates as highly pathogenic avian influenza.

In 2016, South Korea culled more than 30 million birds to contain the worst outbreak of bird flu in the country’s history.


AI Detected at Chicken Farm in Pocheon [KBS WORLD Radio News, 4 Jan 2018]

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Avian influenza(AI) has been detected at a chicken farm in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, the country's largest chicken production area.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday, the farm with 197-thousand laying chickens in Pocheon reported that about 30 birds have died since Tuesday, with preliminary tests showing that they were infected with AI.

More tests are being run to determine if the birds were infected with a highly pathogenic strain of the AI virus.

Bird flu was detected in wild bird droppings in Anseong and Yongin in Gyeonggi Province, but it's the first time a suspected case was reported at a chicken farm in the province.

The ministry held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and imposed a 48-hour standstill order on poultry farms in the province.


Gov't Unveils Measures to Contain Spread of AI Ahead of Olympics [KBS WORLD Radio News, 4 Jan 2018]

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South Korea has restricted eggs from leaving farms throughout the country to twice a week, as a means of containing the spread of the avian influenza(AI) before the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games kick off next month.

This comes after a strain of the H5N6 virus was detected at an egg farm in Pocheon, near Gangwon Province where the global sporting event will be held.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday announced a number of control measures which include a weekly check of eggs on farms across the nation.

Those given the all clear will be allowed to ship out the eggs up to twice a week.

In order to contain the spread of the virus, the government will also set up a base near farms where trucks can collect the eggs to block vehicles from entering and leaving the farms. The trucks' coming in and out of egg farms had been cited as the main culprit of the spread of AI last winter.


Suspected avian influenza case in Pocheon Gyeonggi-do Province confirmed to be H5N6 [The World On Arirang, 4 Jan 2018]

South Korea has confirmed that the suspected case of avian influenza at a chicken farm in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do Province,is the H5N6 strain of the virus, although it has not yet been confirmed whether it is highly pathogenic.

Agriculture Minister Kim Yong-rok, said the government was implementing additional countermeasures.

(KOREAN)

"It is unfortunate that the latest case of avian influenza comes just ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month. The ministry will do its utmost to help contain the virus and will work to minimize the impact on people's livelihoods."

The government said it will limit the shipping of eggs from farms to twice a week, as it aims to prevent the virus from spreading.

This is the first time bird flu has been detected so close to the capital Seoul, as previous cases had been detected in southern parts of the country.

Around two dozen birds had died at the farm, just 45 kilometers north of the capital, and officials say all 197-thousand chickens at the farm will be culled, and they will increase inspections at farms within three kilometers of the affected site.


Suspected bird flu sees BBMP cull 50 chickens [Times of India, 4 Jan 2018]

BENGALURU: With eight chickens dying due to suspected H5N1 virus infection on December 29 at a retail outlet at Bhuvaneshwari Nagar in Dasarahalli, the state health and family welfare department on Wednesday began awareness campaigns to put in place preventive measures.

They chickens were supplied from Tamil Nadu on December 28.

As per reports available with the BBMP, the birds died due to H5N1 virus or avian flu, and the tests were done at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal. The results were known late on Tuesday, post which the Palike began its awareness drives.

Bird flu is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza.

The animal husbandry and fisheries department has issued a notification declaring 1-10km radius of Bhuvaneshwari Nagar as 'surveillance zone' and a km around the chicken centre as 'infected zone'.

According to World Health Organization, though cases of avian flu among humans are rare, if affected, mortality rate could be as high as 60%.

On Wednesday, BBMP culled more than 50 chickens and buried them near Hebbal, while the health department team visited and closed down many chicken shops in Yelahanka zone.

"We have taken up preventive measures as per the Centre's guidelines. Sale of chickens and eggs has been stopped in the vicinity of Bhuvaneshwari Nagar in Yelahanka zone, and the shops have been closed for now," said Dr Nagaraj S, joint commissioner, Yelahanka zone, BBMP.


Avian flu: Unlicensed shops make monitoring difficult [The Hindu, 4 Jan 2018]

by Chitra V Ramani

Even the shop where the infected bird was found is not licenced

With the proliferation of unlicensed shops selling poultry, the Department of Animal Husbandry is finding it difficult to monitor the situation amidst fears of an outbreak of avian flu in Bengaluru.
On Tuesday, one country chicken from a shop in Dasarahalli tested positive for the H5 strain of avian flu. Following this, 12 samples from Dasarahalli, apart from five live birds from the probable supplier, were tested. The results of the test on the samples, which were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, are negative, officials said.

Officials told The Hindu that tracing suppliers is proving to be a difficult task as many unlicensed shops sell meat in the city. Even the shop where the infected bird was found is not licenced.

“We believe that an estimated 150-190 country chickens are sold per week in the Dasarahalli zone, unlike broiler chicken, which is sold in much larger numbers. That apart, country chicken is supplied by those having backyard farms, making monitoring and tracing the source difficult,” said an official.

A high-level meeting of officials of the Departments of Health and Animal Husbandry, Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was held on Wednesday. Principal Secretary of the Department of Animal Husbandry Rajkumar Khatri said that culling of chicken from Dasarahalli area is being carried out by three teams that are following a strict protocol. After the culling is completed, the team members will be put in quarantine for 10 days.

Ajay Seth, principal secretary, Department of Health, said that the possibility of the H5 strain transmitting to humans is low. “However, we are not taking any chances. A central team is likely to visit the city on Thursday and any recommendations they give will also be followed. We have asked all health workers to watch out for flu-like symptoms and bird deaths, apart from taking up door-to-door surveillance. The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has also been intimated in this regard,” he said.

Helpline set up

Reiterating that there is no need to panic, Rajkumar Khatri, principal secretary of the Department of Animal Husbandry, said that a helpline had been set up. All precautionary and surveillance measures are in place. The helpline is being manned by doctors and veterinarians.

For any questions or to report any instance of flu-like symptoms or unnatural death of birds, call toll free number 1800-425-0012, or (080) 23417100.

Bird flu scare in Bengaluru after chicken dies of H5N1 virus [The News Minute, 3 Jan 2018]

poultry farm PTI 750x500-compressed.jpg


The scare comes more than five years after the last reported bird flu scare in the city in October 2012.

Fears of a bird flu outbreak spread through Bengaluru after a confirmed case of a dead chickens infected with H5N1 virus was reported at Dasarahalli near Yelahanka in north Bengaluru.

The scare comes more than five years after the last reported bird flu scare in the city in October 2012.

A few days ago, a chicken stall in Dasarahalli reported that all the chicken at the stall died.

Alarmed by this, officials collected samples and had them tested at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal. Only one bird tested positive for the H5N1 virus.
After the case was confirmed, all chicken stalls in Dasarahalli were immediately closed down to prevent the chance of the virus spreading.

The Health Department assured that there was no reason to panic. "We closed KGN meat shop on December 30 and will hold a medical examination on five people working there on Wednesday. Officials checked people in 40 houses in Dasarahalli and did not find anyone infected with the flu," District Malaria Officer Dr Sunanda Reddy said speaking to Deccan Herald.

Precautionary measures have been put in place as officials have begun screening poultry in Shivaji Nagar and KR Market. “The reports arrived on Tuesday afternoon, following which measures to contain the virus were put in place,” said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Health, BBMP speaking to The Hindu.

Officials are trying to determine where the chicken was sourced from while the government issued a notification marking an area of one km radius from the chicken stall in Dasarahalli as an infected area.

Thousands of chicken and duck were culled in Bengaluru when there was an outbreak of bird flu in 2012.

Bird flu is a fever affecting birds including chicken, duck and swan due to H1N1 virus. The virus can also be contracted when humans come into contact with an infected bird.


Bird flu or Avian Flu: 5 important facts you must know about [The Health Site, 3 Jan 2018]

by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti
|


Did you know India was declared free from bird flu in 2017?

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Image Source: Shutterstock

The scare of Avian influenza (commonly known as Bird flu) in Bangalore has gripped the state as reports have confirmed that at least one chicken was infected with H5N1 virus. This was the first case in the city after a gap of five years, when bird flu was last reported in the city.

Although there have been no positive cases. as per the reports, the government issued a notification declaring the area of 1 km radius from the chicken centre as infected zone and the area within the 10-km radius as surveillance zone. Here’s everything you need to know about bird flu.

#1. Did you know India was declared free from bird flu? But this news of bird flu in India comes as a shocker because according to a report dated 6th July 2017 by the Press Information Bureau India (PIB) has declared itself free from Avian Influenza (H5N8 and H5N1) from 6th June, 2017 and notified the same to OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). You can check the official website of PIB to know about the same.

#2. Avian influenza virus not only infects the birds and poultry but also infected humans. The virus has subtypes namely A(H5N1), A(H7N9), A(H5N8)and A(H9N2), of which type A H5N1 virus is one of the most pathogenic one. Also read bird flu can be transferred from person-to-person.

#3. Bird flu in humans can be acquired either through direct contact with the infected animals or through contaminated environment. The majority of cases, reported so far, have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected poultry, which is either dead or live. Hence, consumption of cooked meat (infected with the virus) also carried the risk of infection in humans.

#4. The incubation period for the avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infections in humans ranges from 2-5 days (however, in severe cases, it can range for 17 days). For infection with the A(H7N9) virus, the incubation period is 1-10 days. Hence, the symptoms of A(H5N1) infection include mild upper respiratory infections (fever and cough) to gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting) should not be ignored.

#5. The best and most effective way to prevent infection with avian influenza A virus is to avoid exposure with infected poultry (direct and close contact). Although antiviral drugs are used to treat influenza, it some cases it can also be used to prevent infection in people who have been exposed to the virus. Also read about your birth year can predict how likely you are to get seriously ill or die in outbreak of animal-origin influenza virus.


Emergence and Adaptation of a Novel Highly Pathogenic H7N9 Influenza Virus in Birds and Humans from a 2013 Human-Infecting Low-Pathogenic Ancestor [Journal of Virology, 3 Jan 2018]

Authored by Qi W, Jia W, Liu D, Li J, Bi Y, Xie S, Li B, Hu T, Du Y, Xing L, Zhang J, Zhang F, Wei X, Eden J-S, Li H, Tian H, Li W, Su G, Lao G, Xu C, Xu B, Liu W, Zhang G, Ren T, Holmes EC, Cui J, Shi W, Gao GF, Liao M.

ABSTRACT

Since its emergence in 2013, the H7N9 low-pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) has been circulating in domestic poultry in China, causing five waves of human infections.

A novel H7N9 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) variant possessing multiple basic amino acids at the cleavage site of the hemagglutinin (HA) protein was first reported in two cases of human infection in January 2017.

More seriously, those novel H7N9 HPAIV variants have been transmitted and caused outbreaks on poultry farms in eight provinces in China.

Herein, we demonstrate the presence of three different amino acid motifs at the cleavage sites of these HPAIV variants which were isolated from chickens and humans and likely evolved from the preexisting LPAIVs.

Animal experiments showed that these novel H7N9 HPAIV variants are both highly pathogenic in chickens and lethal to mice.

Notably, human-origin viruses were more pathogenic in mice than avian viruses, and the mutations in the PB2 gene associated with adaptation to mammals (E627K, A588V, and D701N) were identified by next-generation sequencing (NGS) and Sanger sequencing of the isolates from infected mice.

No polymorphisms in the key amino acid substitutions of PB2 and HA in isolates from infected chicken lungs were detected by NGS.

In sum, these results highlight the high degree of pathogenicity and the valid transmissibility of this new H7N9 variant in chickens and the quick adaptation of this new H7N9 variant to mammals, so the risk should be evaluated and more attention should be paid to this variant.

IMPORTANCE Due to the recent increased numbers of zoonotic infections in poultry and persistent human infections in China, influenza A(H7N9) virus has remained a public health threat.

Most of the influenza A(H7N9) viruses reported previously have been of low pathogenicity.

Now, these novel H7N9 HPAIV variants have caused human infections in three provinces and outbreaks on poultry farms in eight provinces in China.

We analyzed the molecular features and compared the relative characteristics of one H7N9 LPAIV and two H7N9 HPAIVs isolated from chickens and two human-origin H7N9 HPAIVs in chicken and mouse models.

We found that all HPAIVs both are highly pathogenic and have valid transmissibility in chickens.

Strikingly, the human-origin viruses were more highly pathogenic than the avian-origin viruses in mice, and dynamic mutations were confirmed by NGS and Sanger sequencing.

Our findings offer important insight into the origin, adaptation, pathogenicity, and transmissibility of these viruses to both poultry and mammals.


Iowa State researchers look for avian flu in small birds, rodents [Feedstuffs, 3 Jan 2018]

Iowa State airodentstudy.jpg
About 450 animals at wetlands and near poultry facilities were tested for the presence of the influenza A virus.

About 450 small animals were captured tested for presence of influenza A virus, but no sign of virus was found.

Iowa State University research found no evidence that small wild birds and rodents were possible sources of the avian influenza virus that decimated Iowa poultry flocks in 2015.

Jim Adelman, an assistant professor in natural resource ecology and management, and Dr. Kyoung-Jin Yoon, professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, were the co-principal investigators who studied wild birds and rodents around poultry operations to see if they carried the virus or had been exposed to it. A paper on the project was published recently by PeerJ.

Avian influenza is caused by Type A influenza viruses that exist naturally in populations of waterfowl and shorebirds and can somehow occasionally move from these wildlife to domesticated animals.

The avian influenza epidemic in 2015 occurred in facilities practicing strict biosecurity controls, which opened the possibility of alternative infection sources like small songbirds and mammals, the researchers said. In Iowa, more than 30 million chickens had to be destroyed during the epidemic, which had an estimated economic impact of at least $1.2 billion.

The study captured about 450 animals at wetlands
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Zoonotic cat flu since 19 December 2017


What would you do if faced with “cat flu”? [World Health Organization Western Pacific Region, 19 Dec 2017]


Thirty countries and areas in the Western Pacific Region test their outbreak response capacity through an annual simulation exercise

A mystery illness is spreading in cats. At the same time, doctors are starting to notice an increasing number of cat-owners and vets coming to their clinics, reporting flu-like symptoms…

This is the hypothetical scenario that 30 countries and areas of the Western Pacific Region faced in this year’s Exercise Crystal, an annual simulation designed to test familiarity with the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) and communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) during a large-scale outbreak. By the end of the exercise, the fictional disease had infected hundreds of people in the participants’ own country and had spread internationally.

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The Emergency Operations Centre for the Western Pacific Region abuzz with activity, supporting IHR Exercise Crystal.WHO/L. O'Connor

“While a scenario involving pet cats initially seems absurd, it is actually not too far from the truth,” said Dr Masaya Kato, Programme Area Manager for Country Preparedness and IHR (2005) at the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific. “Zoonotic diseases—that is, diseases which are transmitted between animals and humans—are something we have to prepare for. Some recent examples have been avian influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome and plague. We wanted participants to think through what they would do if faced with such a scenario. Do they know how to reach their animal health counterparts? And do they know when and how to notify WHO?”

Many of the participants in the exercise were National IHR Focal Points—the people and centres responsible for reporting significant public health events to WHO and the international community.

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The team from Viet Nam crafts a message to WHO, sharing information on the fictional outbreak as part of the simulation exercise. Viet Nam National IHR Focal Point

WHO has conducted IHR Exercise Crystal in the Western Pacific Region almost every year since 2008. The exception was in 2009, when resources were instead directed to a real-life event—pandemic influenza H1N1.

However, simulation exercises are just one of the ways that WHO helps the countries and areas of the Western Pacific Region ensure that they have the appropriate systems and capacities in place long before a public health emergency occurs. The cornerstone of WHO’s work to support country preparedness in the Region is the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies (APSED III). APSED III is a common framework outlining how countries can work together with WHO and partners to advance IHR (2005) implementation and protect their citizens—and the citizens of neighbouring countries—during outbreaks and other public health events.

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WHO’s Regional Emergency Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Ailan Li, thanks participants for their engagement with the exercise.WHO/D. Rivada

“We don’t know when and where the next health security threat will emerge, but it will happen,” said Dr Ailan Li, WHO’s Regional Emergency Director for the Western Pacific. “Outbreaks and health emergencies can claim thousands of lives and devastate economies. However, careful preparedness, prompt detection and rapid response can save lives and limit economic losses. We have been incredibly impressed with the level of enthusiasm countries and areas have brought to IHR Exercise Crystal over the past 9 years and we will continue to work together to build the capacities needed to cope with potential health emergencies.”
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 23 till 31 Dec 2017


WHO EMRO Weekly Epidemiological Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 53 (31 December 2017) [ReliefWeb, 31 Dec 2017]

Current major event

Health threats reported in 2017

In 2017, a variety of emerging and reemerging infectious disease threats were reported in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). Most of the threats began in 2016, including chikungunya in Pakistan, or were already endemic in the country, for example, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in Afghanistan. However, new threats, such as diphtheria in Yemen, have also been observed this year.

Editorial note

Several countries of the EMR have been facing severe humanitarian emergencies in the past few years. This, coupled with ongoing conflicts and insecurities in the region, has increased the risk of emergence and active transmission of infectious disease threats in a number of countries in the Region. The increasing number of internally displaced people living in over crowded conditions with little access to health services and/or damage to water and sanitation systems, as the case in Yemen, Iraq and Somalia have augmented this risk manifold. The cholera trend continues to dramatically increase in Yemen, whereas the cholera situation in Somalia was well controlled and the number of cases dropped significantly throughout this year, possibly following introduction of mass vaccination campaign with oral cholera vaccine (OCV).

An increase in cases of zoonotic infections was also observed this year. Pakistan was most affected as it suffered from an increase in chikungunya, dengue and CCHF cases. In
Afghanistan, the number of CCHF cases in 2017 exceeded those reported in previous years. In addition, MERS cases increased in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman this year.

Avian influenza (H5N1) continues to circulate in Egypt, with a total of 349 cases reported so far.

Other ongoing outbreaks, such as Polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan and dengue in Yemen, continue to pose perennial threats in the Region . On the other hand, due to the collapse of healthcare infrastructure and routine vaccination programme, new infections have re-emerged such as meningitis Yemen. Diphtheria is another vaccine preventable disease which has been reported in increasing number in recent time.

As conflict-affected countries are disproportionally affected by infectious disease threats, establishing and strengthening an early warning system for disease outbreaks in those countries is imperative.

This system would allow rapid identification and response to outbreaks when routine surveillance system remains fragile or dysfunctional. Implementing such a system would require continuous collaboration and commitment from all agencies and partners working with the ministries of health of high risk countries. Early detection and control of outbreaks is a crucial component of global health security efforts and it remains a shared responsibility.

REPORT
from World Health Organization ☞ https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Epi_Monitor_2017_10_53.pdf


Highly Pathogenic AI Confirmed in Gyeonggi, Chungcheong [KBS WORLD Radio News, 31 Dec 2017]

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South Korea has confirmed fresh cases of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza in wild bird droppings in Gyeonggi and South Chungcheong Province.

The National Institute of Environmental Research notified on Sunday the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and said that the highly pathogenic strain of H5N6 was detected in wild bird droppings collected at a stream in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province last Friday and Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province last Saturday.

The ministry said that it designated the two areas a monitoring zone for wild birds and banned the movement of poultry for 21 days immediately after a H5 strain was detected in preliminary tests on Thursday.

The ministry asked the municipalities and poultry farms in the affected regions to take thorough quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus.


Saudi MEWA: Four More Detections Of H5N8 In Riyadh Area - Dec 31st [Avian Flu Diary, 31 Dec 2017]

#13,018

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The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture (MEWA) continues to provide us with daily updates on their surveillance and containment efforts against the recently arrived H5N8 avian flu. The latest report finds 4 new detections in the Riyadh region. bring the total over the last 3 days to 16.

Recording (4) new infections in the Riyadh area of bird flu (H5N8)
13/04/1439

・ During the twenty-four hours past the ministry recorded 4 new cases of bird flu H5N8)) among birds, in the city of Riyadh, and the province Dhurma in the Riyadh region, all of them in the backyard traditional breeding.


・ The number of samples that arrived at the veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Riyadh to this day (1851) sample since the beginning of the outbreak, and collected samples based on the reports of citizens, and procedures for the survey and investigation in the vicinity of the affected areas.

・reached the number of communications to the emergency room during the past twenty - four hours (19) tip, were directly (8) of which, while arrived in the emergency room 66 inquiries.


・bulg the number of rounds the awareness of bird flu during the twenty-four hours last (25) awareness tour of the markets and communities in all regions of the Kingdom.


・the continuation of the ministry ban on all poultry projects and transport companies, as well as bird breeders and individuals, any transfer of birds between the regions of the Kingdom without obtaining a permit from the ministry.


The ministry also emphasizes the poultry farms in the Kingdom of the need to tighten biosecurity measures, and the lack of transport in the incidence of areas of bird flu, and the need to cleanse and wash transport vehicles at the entrances of farms and poultry processing plants and feed mills in the projects, and will field teams of the Ministry of its visits of inspection, and the closure of offending facilities and the rhythm of the sanctions on the violator according to the regulations. The ministry let bird breeders in the kingdom to avoid buying live birds from unknown sources, and not to bring birds to markets and places selling random, to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease.

Posted by Michael Coston


Iran: Bird Flu, Food Insecurity & Civil Unrest [Avian Flu Diary, 31 Dec 2017]

#13,017

iran Iran.jpg


Although Iran has not reported an outbreak of avian flu to the OIE since February of 2017, we continue to see unofficial reports of large losses in their poultry sector due to HPAI H5. Five days ago, Iran's Hidden Bird Flu Burden, we looked at recent reports that bird flu has - over the past 8 months - caused the culling of more than 12 million birds.

Whether that number is low, or accurate, is impossible to assess. Iran routinely holds such numbers close to their vest.


But it comes on the heels of reports last February of 6 million birds having been culled (see H5N8 & H5N1: Murmurs From The Middle East) and OIE reports from earlier in 2017 that totaled in the millions.

This has led to shortages both in poultry, and in eggs, and steadily rising prices for Iranian consumers - not to mention serious losses for farmers, and those who sell, distribute, or work with poultry products.

Over the past three days the world has watched as Iranians have taken to the street - initially due to rising prices - but increasingly over a long list of grievances with their government. Some of those protests have ended with violence, and overnight, media reports suggest some protesters have been killed.


The Washington Post's most recent report (Report: 2 protesters in western Iran killed at night rally) actually cites government officials as blaming `bird flu' as responsible for the rising poultry prices (up 40%) that supposedly started this civil unrest.

Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.


While this overlooks other factors (e.g. Internet access and the proliferation of cell phones providing Iranians a `window to the outside world', a repressive government, etc.), food insecurity historically has been the straw that has broken many a repressive regime's rule.

The FAO's report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 shows a sharp rise in food insecurity around the world since 2014 (see chart below), and warns:

Food Insecurity 2017.jpg


・ In 2016 the number of chronically undernourished people in the world is estimated to have increased to 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015 although still down from about 900 million in 2000.


・After a prolonged decline, this recent increase could signal a reversal of trends. The food security situation has worsened in particular in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia, and deteriorations have been observed most notably in situations of conflict and conflict combined with droughts or floods.

・This report sends a clear warning signal that the ambition of a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030 will be challenging – achieving it will require renewed efforts through new ways of working.


Even before the return of avian flu to Iran in 2016, food insecurity there was a serious concern. In 2016's Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Iran: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, researchers found:

The prevalence of food insecurity was 49% among households (95% CI: %40-%59), 67% in children (95% CI: %63-%70), 61% in mothers (95% CI: %35-%88), 49% in adolescents (95% CI: %33-%66) and 65% in the elderly (95% CI: %44-%86).


One of the reasons we devote so much time tracking avian influenza - beyond the obvious concern that one could someday spark a pandemic - is that it has the ability to cause food shortages and economic losses that could potentially drive major world events.

Not unlike the civil unrest we are seeing in Iran.


In 2013's Food Insecurity, Economics, And The Control Of H7N9, we looked at some of the factors that led China to move to a vaccination policy - rather that stamping out the virus through strict culling - as is done in most of the rest of the world.

A brief excerpt from that blog reads:

In many parts of the world - poultry - whether factory farmed or from backyard flocks, represents a major source of income, protein, and accrued wealth for hundreds of millions of people.


Take that away, and you risk destabilizing an entire region.

China, which produces more poultry than anyplace else on earth, reportedly raises in excess of 15 Billion birds (cite Vaccines for pandemic influenza as of 2005) each year.


Any avian virus, or a culling policy to control that virus, that seriously threatens their poultry industry also raises the specter of mass hunger in the world’s most populous nation.


And hunger, as China’s leaders know, often leads to social unrest and political instability.


The results from China's vaccination policy have not been entirely positive, however.

While they've reduced poultry losses, the problem is that as avian viruses evolve, poultry vaccines become increasingly less effective; often only masking the symptoms of infection.


Poor vaccine matches can allow AI viruses to spread silently among flocks, to continue to reassort and evolve, and potentially lead to the emergence new subtypes of avian flu. A few earlier blogs on that include:

Subclinical Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus Infection among Vaccinated Chickens, China). Study: Recombinant H5N2 Avian Influenza Virus Strains In Vaccinated Chickens EID Journal: Subclinical HPAI In Vaccinated Poultry – China


Over the past 12 years we've gone from dealing with just one major HPAI virus (H5N1), to seeing the emergence in China of multiple clades and/or lineages of H7N9, H5N8, H5N6, H10N8, H5N2, H5N3, H5N5 and more.

Some of these subtypes pose a pandemic threat, while others currently only affect avian species. But all are threats to global stability.


Of course, it isn't just avian flu. Climate change, the emergence of new plant viruses and fungi (i.e. wheat rust, Banana blight, etc.), FMD and African Swine Fever, and yes - even the prospects of agroterrorism - all threaten the world's food supply.

There's a prepper's adage that the world is only 9 meals away from anarchy.

A prospect that has many governments around the globe - and particularly Iran's right now - laying awake at night, wondering how to deal with whatever comes next.

Posted by Michael Coston


Egypt slaughters 17.5K poultry after bird flu outbreak reported [egypt today, 31 Dec 2017]

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Chicken – Flickr/Laughlin Elkind

CAIRO – 31 December 2017: Egypt has slaughtered more than 17,500 poultry in a farm where bird flu cases were reported in the Dakahlia governorate (Delta), said Head of Veterinary Medicine Directorate, Abdel Moneim Al Mongy, on Saturday.

After taking samples from infected poultry, vets buried the dead and slaughtered poultry to control the spread of viruses, Mongy added in remarks to Al-Watan newspaper.

Dakahlia’s Mit Ghamr and Gharbyia’s Santa cities were ranked as the most dangerous places, as they have the virus, he continued.

During the veterinary inspection, the vets reported new H5N2, H8N2, H9N2 and IB strains. The fact that these strains are appearing for the first time in Egypt has made the situation all the more serious.

“After the death of my poultry, I informed the Veterinary Medicine (Directorate) immediately,” the owner of the farm, Maged Atman, confirmed. The government should produce local veterinary medicine to cure the local virus strains and stop exporting drugs for strains not existing in Egypt, Mongy stated.

The virus first appeared in Egypt in 2006, and caused 41 deaths during 2015. Most cases are detected in impoverished rural areas that raise poultry.

The Ministry of Health repeatedly urged all residents dealing with poultry to take all protective measures against the virus. Adv Mobile


Bird flu spreads ahead of Olympics [The Korea Times (press release), 31 Dec 2017]

By Kim Bo-eun

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Authorities block entry to a duck farm in Naju, South Jeolla Province, Friday, after the H5 avian influenza virus was detected there. The strain was confirmed as the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain the following day. / Yonhap

Authorities are on alert to contain the spread of avian influenza ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics in February, after highly pathogenic strains were confirmed at Anseong in Gyeonggi Province and Cheonan in South Chungcheong Province, Sunday.
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The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed it detected the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain in the excrements of wild birds in Anseong and Cheonan on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.

The ministry had earlier placed a three-week transport ban on poultry in the area, as well as ordered disinfection measures and monitoring after the strain was detected.

The ministry has ordered local governments and poultry farms to prevent migratory birds from flying in, and take disinfection measures.

Eight cases of highly pathogenic strains have been detected in wild bird excrement _ one each in Suncheon in South Jeolla Province and Yongin and Anseong in Gyeonggi Province, two on Jeju and three in Cheonan.

Meanwhile, the H5N6 strain was also confirmed at duck farms at Naju and Yeongam in South Jeolla Province on Saturday.

The highly pathogenic strain that broke out in the Naju duck farm came after three outbreaks in Yeongam. Naju has the highest concentration of duck farms in the nation _ with over 810,000 birds being bred at 54 farms.

After the virus was detected, the ministry placed a transport ban in the area from Friday to Saturday, culled 23,000 birds at the farm where the virus was detected, and ordered disinfection measures be taken for surrounding areas.

Following the confirmation of the highly pathogenic strain, the ministry has placed a one-week ban on the movement of persons and vehicles, as well as the entry of outsiders, at all poultry farms in Naju. It will conduct detailed examinations at all poultry farms. The ministry has also banned the retail of poultry products for traditional markets in Naju.

The authorities also confirmed the H5N6 strain at a duck farm in Yeongam.

The farm, which is breeding 35,000 birds, has been confirmed to be located within 3 kilometers of another duck farm in Yeongam where a highly pathogenic strain broke out on Nov. 19.

Authorities said the H5N6 strain which broke out at duck farms has similar levels of contagiousness and pathogenicity as the H5N1 type which wreaked the greatest scale of damage last year.

Since the beginning of winter, eight cases of highly pathogenic strains have been found at duck farms in the Jeolla provinces _ one each in Gochang and Jeongeup in North Jeolla Province, while in South Jeolla Province there have been four in Yeongam, one in Goheung and one in Naju.

A total of 579,000 birds have been culled at 24 farms.


New bird flu cases reported in KSA; transport of live birds between regions banned [Arab News, 31 Dec 2017]

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An auction assistant holds aloft a bird for sale during the York Auction Centre's Christmas Poultry Auction of dressed poultry in York, in this December 21, 2017. (AFP)

RIYADH: The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday that seven cases of H5N8 avian flu had been recorded in the country in the previous 24 hours, five in Riyadh, one in Qassim and one in Tarout Island.

Field teams in Kharj and Dharma provinces have instigated a cull of infected birds on two poultry farms — with 813 birds safely disposed of in Dharma — while an overall emergency plan is being implemented to clear the infected areas.

In Ahsa province, teams finalized measures to safely cull 1,325 birds on a number of farms where the H5N8 virus was detected. In Qassim, 800 birds were euthanized.

Veterinary teams from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture conducted 25 inspections of markets and bird-breeding farms across the Kingdom in the 24 hours before the SPA report.

The ministry has banned all poultry farms, transport firms and bird breeders from transporting birds between different regions of the Kingdom without obtaining the necessary licenses.

It also asked bird breeders in the Kingdom to avoid purchasing live birds from unknown sources, and taking their birds to unauthorized markets, in order to minimize the spread of the H5N8 avian flu.

The director of Animal Resources Services, Dr. Ibrahim Qasim, said 358,134 birds infected with the H5N8 virus have been destroyed across the Kingdom as of Friday.

Speaking to Al-Riyadh daily, he said all reported cases outside Riyadh region originated from private fenced yards and traditional farms, while some cases were reported at three poultry projects in the Riyadh region.

Dr. Abdullah Kadman, a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Poultry Producers Association, said the ministry’s ban on transporting birds between regions is expected to be lifted within two weeks.

Head of the National Committee for Poultry Producers, Jamal Al-Sadoun, has requested strict compliance with the ministry’s instructions on the transfer of birds between regions to curb the spread of the disease. He confirmed that the infections were centered in the Riyadh region, specifically Dharma, Muzahmiyah and Hiraimla.

A reported 850 samples have been sent to the Riyadh-based Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory since the latest outbreak of the disease, some based on reports from citizens, and some randomly collected from infected areas.


What we hope not to expect in 2018 [ReporterNews.com, 30 Dec 2017]

by Glen Harlan Reynolds(Photo: University of Tennessee)

2016: ‘It was the craziest year ever.’

2017: ‘Hold my beer.’”

Well, we did think that things couldn’t get crazier after 2016, and yet I’m pretty sure almost everyone would agree that 2017 beat it in spades.

So what’s up for 2018? Well, I can’t predict the craziness (that’s why it’s crazy), but I want to look at a few things that could go wrong, and suggest things we might do about them, before they happen. 2017 hasn’t been that bad, really, even if you’re not Taylor Swift, what with record high stocks, super-low unemployment, and the defeat of ISIS’s “caliphate.” But craziness comes in all flavors, and it isn’t always about the antics of gropey politicians.

So here are a few potential wild cards for 2018, along with the hope that my end-of-year column next year says that none of them happened.

Electrical breakdown. Earlier this year we saw what experts called a ”game-changing” cyberattack on critical infrastructure. “The malware was most likely designed to cause physical damage inside the unnamed site ... It worked by targeting a safety instrumented system, which the targeted facility and many other critical infrastructure sites use to prevent unsafe conditions from arising."

We have lots of important stuff, not just in the electrical world, but in all utilities, that’s connected to the Internet. This turns out to be a bad idea. Sooner or later, someone is going to figure out how to bring large sectors of the American grid down — or, I should say, someone who already knows how is going to decide that they want to do so. 2018 just might be the year.
People are talking about making the electrical grid more resilient. That means not only making it more reliable, so that it’s less likely to fail, but also better at putting itself back together if pieces of it collapse. I think that this sort of thing deserves at least as much attention as cyberdefense efforts designed to frustrate hackers. All sorts of things besides hackers could bring down the grid: A massive solar flare, an EMP attack, a software “bug” rather than a hack. The better the grid is at recovering, the better it will be if any of them happen.

The Bitcoin bubble bursts: Bitcoin has been skyrocketing, and I confess that I wish I’d put, say, a thousand bucks into it a few years back, when my crypto-enthusiast friends were encouraging me to. But many people think it’s in a bubble, and all bubbles burst. Perhaps they’re wrong, but if they’re right, many people — especially in Asia, where millions of investors are driving up the price according to the Wall Street Journal — will wind up losing their shirts and angry. Asia doesn’t need destabilizing right now, with North Korea and China rattling sabers. (And for added fun, North Korea is hacking Bitcoin exchanges.)

There’s not much bankers and regulators can do to stop a bubble bursting, but they should be ready for its possibility. And ordinary folks can prepare by keeping their debt and spending on a tight leash, which is a good idea anyway. Or maybe it’s not a bubble, and I’m missing out by not buying Bitcoin even at its current soaring price. By way of comfort, that would be consistent with my investment performance.

Some sort of pandemic: We’ve had scares with SARS, bird flu, Ebola, etc., but so far none of these really broke through into a global threat. Sooner or later, something will, and the public health community’s response to these earlier outbreaks wasn’t entirely confidence-building.

Over a decade ago, then-Senator Bill Frist was calling for a crash program to vastly speed up vaccine development and production. It’s still a good idea.

War in Korea: 2017 was a crazy year, which means that Kim Jong Un was really in his element.

Alas, that’s likely to continue in 2018. There’s some sign that U.S. efforts to get China to exercise a restraining influence might be working, but North Korea is in terrible economic shape, and Kim Jong-Un is, well, kind of crazy.

The U.S., South Korea and Japan already are trying to get ready for this, but I’m sure more can be done. And now that he has missiles that might reach the United States, it’s time to brush up on our “Duck and Cover” skills.

A singularity of stupid: OK, this last seems the most likely. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that our politics have become increasingly foolish and hysterical in recent years — in a recent column, I blamed social media for a lot of it. Like Nigel Tufnel’s guitar amp in Spinal Tap, every issue today goes to 11. Every election is an existential threat, every politician people don’t like is Hitler, every policy change is going to kill millions of people. As with Bitcoin I’m assuming (OK, in this case I’m hoping) that this trend will reach a top. But it’s possible that the irrationality will grow to the point of producing actual social breakdown. Mass hysteria has afflicted societies for millennia, but we have created conditions that let it spread much faster and farther than ever before. It’s the intellectual-hygiene equivalent of everyone sharing everyone else’s toothbrush.

Sadly, I don’t have any suggestions on what to do about this problem. When it comes down to it, 2017 may just have to hold 2018’s beer.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law and a USA TODAY contributing columnist.


(LEAD) Additional bird flu case confirmed at duck farm in central S. Korea [Yonhap News, 30 Dec 2017]

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Quarantine officials discard duck eggs from a poultry farm in Yeongam, 380 kilometers south of Seoul, on Dec. 11, 2017, following the outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza. (Yonhap)

(ATTN: ADDS additional confirmed highly pathogenic case in 6th para)

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has confirmed a fresh case of avian influenza at a duck farm in the southwestern region, the agriculture ministry said Saturday, raising alarms in the major poultry production region already infected with highly pathogenic bird flu.

The H5N6-strain bird flu was detected on a farm with 35,000 ducks in Yeongam, 380 kilometers south of Seoul, while quarantine officials were conducting an inspection in the county, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said.

It was located within 3 kilometers of another farm that reported the outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain on Dec. 19, which was put under restriction of movement of poultry, livestock breeders and equipment.

An in-depth analysis into the virus has been under way to figure out whether it is highly pathogenic, and the inspection result will be released in a couple of days, the ministry said.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza refers to viruses that cause severe disease in birds and result in high death rates.

The bird flu detected at a farm with about 23,000 ducks in Naju and found to be the H5N6 strain on Friday was confirmed to be highly pathogenic, the agriculture ministry said.

South Korea has been stepping up quarantine measures in the southwestern region, including the culling of over 200,000 birds, to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus.

Last year, South Korea slaughtered more than 30 million birds to contain the worst outbreak of bird flu in the country's history.


The 10 Biggest Infectious Disease Outbreaks of 2017 (excerpt) [Contagionlive.com, 29 Dec 2017]

connector 8. Avian Influenza (H7N9) .jpg

8. Avian Influenza (H7N9) Returned to China.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most concerning of the avian influenza strains, are subtypes A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and A(H9N2). China is being hit with their fifth epidemic of Asian H7N9 human infections, a lineage that was first reported in China in March 2013. This is the largest annual epidemic to date, according to the CDC, as WHO reported 764 human cases as of September 13, 2017.

The good news is, contracting the virus through person-to-person contact is rare; individuals typically get infected after being exposed to contaminated poultry. The CDC reports that the current risk posed by the virus to public health is low, however, “the pandemic potential” is unsettling. “Of the novel influenza A viruses that are of special concern to public health, Asian lineage H7N9 virus is rated by the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool as having the greatest potential to cause a pandemic, as well as potentially posing the greatest risk to severely impact public health.”


Russia Reports Virulent H5N2 Bird Flu at 660,000-bird Farm [Voice of America, 29 Dec 2017]

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FILE - Veterinary workers give a lethal injection to chickens at a farm affected by bird flu in Russia, Aug. 22, 2005.

PARIS —

Russia has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu on a farm in the central region of Kostromskaya Oblast that led to the deaths of more than 660,000 birds, the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said Friday.

The virus killed more than 44,000 birds in an outbreak first detected on December 17, the OIE said, citing a report from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.

The rest of the 663,500 birds on the farm were slaughtered, it said in the report. It did not specify the type of birds that were infected.

It is the first outbreak of the H5N2 strain in Russia this year, but the country has been facing regular outbreaks of H5N8 since early December last year, with the last one reported to the OIE detected late November.

Bird flu has led to the deaths or culling of more than 2.6 million birds on farms between December last year and November this year, a report posted on the OIE website showed.

Neither the H5N2 or H5N8 strains has been found in humans.

The virulence of highly pathogenic bird flu viruses has prompted countries to bar poultry imports from infected countries in earlier outbreaks.


Three Books That Track Diseases, Drugs and the World They Made (excerpt) [Reuters, 29 Dec 2017]

By AMANDA SCHAFFER


PALE RIDER
The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World
By Laura Spinney
332 pp. PublicAffairs. $28.

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Each time the specter of bird flu arises, so too do grim references to the global pandemic that killed tens of millions of people in 1918. And yet Spinney, a novelist and science writer, argues that almost a century later, the Spanish flu is “still emerging from the shadows of the First World War” in our collective memories. She sets out to rectify this, knowing just which medical mysteries and haunting vignettes will give the pandemic full purchase on our imaginations.

Researchers now believe that the 1918 virus originated in birds, but exactly when and where it made the leap to humans remains under debate. Spinney explores three possibilities: In March 1918, a mess cook at the United States Army’s Camp Funston in Kansas contracted the disease, possibly from a nearby farm. Yet more than a year earlier, a flulike illness had ravaged a military camp, close to the Western Front in northern France. And in 1917 an unknown respiratory disease also swept communities in Northern China, which sent workers to assist the allies as part of the Chinese Labor Corps.

Wherever human transmission occurred, as soon as it did the disease spread around the world, accelerated by troop movements, poor nutrition and overcrowding. At the time, no one knew where the flu had come from or why it was so deadly; misinformation abounded as, Spinney writes, “news of the flu was censored in the warring nations, to avoid damaging morale.” The French, British and American publics blamed the Spanish, generating its ubiquitous misnomer (the pandemic had already struck France and the United States before it arrived in Spain in May 1918), the Brazilians accused the Germans, “the Persians blamed the British, and the Japanese blamed their wrestlers.”

Spinney describes how various communities tried to make sense of the disease and manage its impact. Some areas instituted public health measures like banning funerals and parades. Others tried mixtures of ritual and desperation, which Spinney describes with a novelist’s eye: In Odessa, Russia, the community held a “black wedding” between beggars to defend against the disease. In Rio de Janeiro, individuals positioned corpses’ feet in their windows so that public agencies would know to remove the bodies.


Russia reports outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu: OIE [Reuters, 29 Dec 2017]

PARIS (Reuters) - Russia has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu on a farm in the Kostromskaya Oblast region, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Friday.

The disease was detected on Dec. 17 and led to the culling of more than 660,000 birds, the OIE said, citing a report from the Russian ministry of agriculture.

It did not specify the type of birds that were infected.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Susan Fenton


Saudi government clamps down on bird trade to curb H5N8 spread [Gulf Digital News, 28 Dec 2017]

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Riyadh: The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture banned any transportation of birds between regions in Saudi Arabia without authorisation.

The ban applies to poultry projects, transportation companies, bird breeders and individuals, according to Okaz.

The ministry urged breeders to avoid buying live birds from unknown sources or bringing birds to markets or makeshift selling points to limit the danger of an outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu.

Meanwhile, the number of samples which were taken from the virus-hit areas for lab-testing in Riyadh has reached 1503 since the outbreak of the avian influenza.

The ministry reported only one case of H5N8 over the past twenty-four hours in a private poultry farm in Al-Ahsa in the Eastern province. The emergency plan has been launched in cooperation with competent authorities.

The specialised field teams have so far culled 120,000 birds at a poultry farm in cooperation with the municipality of Dharma. A total of 4240 live birds were also culled in Al-Kharj.

The ministry has also announced the culling of 103,640 live birds at a poultry project in Riyadh.


Russia’s consumer rights watchdog warns tourists about bird flu outbreaks in Europe [TASS, 28 Dec 2017]

A bird flu outbreak was reported in early December at a duck farm in Biddinghuizen, Felvoland
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MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. Russia’s consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has warned Russian tourists about risks association with bird flu outbreaks in Europe.

"The Dutch official authorities have reported another outbreak of avian influenza H5N6 in wild waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans, etc.) in two provinces," Rospotrebnadzor said on its website on Thursday. "Rospotrebnadzor asks to reckon with this information while planning trips."

A bird flu outbreak was reported in early December at a duck farm in Biddinghuizen, Felvoland.

A total of 16,000 ducks were culled. Transportation of domestic birds, poultry, eggs, droppings and nesting litter has been banned within ten kilometers around the infected farm.


Infectious H5N8 bird flu spreads to two more governorates in Riyadh [Gulf Digital News, 28 Dec 2017]

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(Photo: argaam.com)

Riyadh – The infectious bird flu disease (H5N8) has spread to two new governorates in the province of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

New cases of the avian influenza were discovered at Al-Quaiya and Dharma.

The H5N8 disease was first discovered at Al-Aziziya Market before hitting the governorates of Al-Kharj and Huraimila.

The Ministry of the Environment, Water and Agriculture reported 8 new cases at a poultry project in Riyadh, which led to the culling of 85627 birds.

The authorities have also culled 1232 birds at 12 locations in the region of Mazahmiya.

Saudi Arabia had confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said last Friday.


Taiwan Reports Low-Path H5N6 Bird Flu [The Poultry Site, 27 Dec 2017]

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Map of outbreak locations [Credit: OIE]

TAIWAN - Dr Tai-Hwa Shih, Chief Veterinary Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture in Taipei, has reported two outbreaks of the H5N6 strain of low pathogenic avian influenza at two farms located in Zhushan, a township in Taiwan.

The outbreak, which was initially observed on 19 December was confirmed on 24 December after reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and gene sequencing tests were carried out on 21 December and 24 December respectively at the Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI). Both tests gave out positive results.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) received an immediate notification on Tuesday, 26 December. According to the report received, the affected population comprised ducks in both farms.

A total of 11848 ducks showed signs of susceptibility. However, the number of cases have not been clarified and no deaths were reported. All susceptible birds were killed and disposed of.

The OIE reports that when an active surveillance program was performed, the samples collected from the two duck farms in Nantou County on 19 December 2017 were sent to the National Laboratory, Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) for analysis.

Low pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 subtype was confirmed by AHRI on 24 December. The farms have been placed under movement restriction. All animals on the infected farms were culled.

Thorough cleaning and disinfection have been conducted after stamping out operation. Surrounding poultry farms within a three-kilometer radius of the infected farms are under intensified surveillance for three months, according to the OIE.

The source of the outbreaks remains inconclusive.


UAE Bans Poultry Imports from Saudi Arabia Following H5N8 Bird Flu Outbreak [The Poultry Site, 27 Dec 2017]

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UAE - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced Sunday a ban on poultry imports from Saudi Arabia following a reported outbreak of a bird flu in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment took the measure following a notification from the Gulf Early Warning Centre of the outbreak of a "highly contagious" strain of bird flu, H5N8, in the Azizia market in Riyadh, the UAE state news agency WAM reported.

The precautious measures include a ban on the import of all kinds of domestic and wild live birds, ornamental birds, chicks, hatching eggs and non-heat-treated wastes from Saudi Arabia, said the report.

A ban on the import of poultry meat, non-heat-treated products and table eggs from the affected area in Riyadh was also implemented.

The UAE ministry added that the untreated products shipped prior to 1 December 2017 are still permitted following a verification of the accompanying certificates. The heat-treated poultry products - meat and eggs - are also cleared for importing from Saudi Arabia.

In doing so, the ministry hopes to prevent the bird flu virus' impact on the country's poultry health and safety, in addition to protecting public health and well-being, it added.

Bird flu strains have hit poultry flocks in several countries across the world in recent years, with some types of the disease causing human infection and deaths.

Saudi Arabia in earlier this year imposed restrictions on poultry imports from some infected countries such as Bulgaria, in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading.


Cambodia: More Media Reports Of H5N1 [Avian Flu Diary, 27 Dec 2017]

#13,002

On December 9th we looked at Media Reports Of An H5N1 Outbreak In Cambodia, which was quickly confirmed by the OIE. While having no reported outbreaks since January of this year (see OIE Notification), surveillance and reporting from this part of the world can be sub-optimal.

Despite several years of low activity, Cambodia has the 4th highest total of H5N1 human infections and deaths (56/37) globally - with the bulk of those cases recorded between 2012 and 2014.


On December 22nd the Cambodian MOH posted the following (translated) statement suggesting the earlier outbreaks continue to spread.

H5N1 influenza outbreak occurred in poultry

Date: 22/December/2017 (update)

The recent H5N1 influenza outbreak occurred in poultry subsequently exploded Preychhor Stong district, Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom explosion two has not been found yet, but officials ministry is continuing to monitor the situation very closely, let's be very cautious about disease transmission, especially in other festivals Which will be reached soon, please be vigilant about the spread of bird flu.

Do not take a major poultry sick or dead poultry or to prepare a meal or resale shall apply to baochrom hygiene and cook consistently.

Please be reminded that since 2005 to 2014 in our country ever bird flu outbreak that has spread from birds to people of 56 cases of which 37 cases have been killed. In particular, 2013 just over 26 cases, including 14 cases of deaths and in 2014 there are 9 cases and 4 deaths.

For more information, please contact tel. 115


So far we've seen two recent outbreaks confirmed by the OIE, the first in Prey Chhor and the second in Staung. Although slightly syntax-challenged, today there are fresh media reports of what appear to be an additional outbreak of H5N1 in the Leu district, although I haven't found anything posted yet on the MOH or MAFF websites.

Department of Communicable Disease: The H5N1 influenza outbreak found Thom

December 27, 201717:14 pmKuch Naren

Phnom Penh: The Department of Communicable Disease Control on 27 December, people briefed brother said recently H5N1 influenza outbreak occurred on a series of birds exploded Preychhor and Leu district, Kampong Cham and now also erupted in Stong district, Kampong Thom too.


However, all three cases, the Department of Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health confirmed that found no infection in humans yet still ongoing ministry officials the situation very closely to human health, please be careful about A copy of the disease, especially in Other ways that will reach far in soon, let us always be careful about the spread of bird flu.


Department of Communicable Disease Control suggests that important, do not take poultry sick or dead poultry or to prepare a meal or resale Sanitation baochrom and always cook and reported it immediately to the officials.


Please be reminded that since 2005 to 2014 in our country ever happened bird flu, which has spread from birds to people of 56 cases of which 37 cases have been killed. In particular, 2013 just over 26 cases, including 14 cases of deaths and in 2014 there are 9 cases and 4 cases died.

A person with symptoms of fever over 38.5 ° C and cough or sore symptoms. Or breathe and are exposure to sick or dead died during the 7 days before onset of symptoms considered as suspected cases were sent the patient to the nearest health center or hospital to work Our therapeutic drugs for treating the disease.

While H5N1 has taken a back seat to H5N8/H5N6 and H7N9 in recent years, it continues to circulate in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Over the past few months we've seen a bit of a resurgence in reports on this OG of the bird flu world, which serves to remind us it is still out there, and still a threat.

Posted by Michael Coston


Six countries report more avian flu outbreaks [CIDRAP, 27 Dec 2017]

BY Lisa Schnirring

duckfarmtraditional.jpg
pookpiik/ iStock

A handful of countries reported new avian flu outbreaks over the past few days that involved different strains, including H5N6 in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, H5N1 in Bangladesh and Cambodia, and H5N8 in Russia.

H5N6 in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan

South Korea, which is battling a recent spate of outbreaks involving a new reassortant of highly pathogenic H5N6, reported another, which began Dec 21 at a broiler duck farm in North Jeolla province, according to a Dec 23 report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The facility houses 29,000 birds, and all were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus. An investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing.

Also, Hong Kong reported the detection of highly pathogenic H5N6 in a magpie robin found dead on Dec 21, according to a separate OIE report.

The virus was found during ongoing surveillance for avian flu in wild birds. So far, it's not clear if the virus is related to the reassortant recently found in South Korea and a handful of other countries.

In another H5N6 development, Taiwan yesterday reported two outbreaks involving a low pathogenic form of H5N6, both on duck farms in the same township in Nantou County, according to an OIE report yesterday.

The outbreaks began on Dec 19, with the virus found during active surveillance. No illnesses or deaths were reported, but authorities destroyed all 11,848 ducks at the two farms.

H5N1 in Bangladesh and Cambodia

In Bangladesh, livestock officials reported two highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks involving house crows in two different neighborhoods of Dhaka, the country's capital, according to a report yesterday from the OIE. The outbreaks are Bangladesh's first since March.

The crow deaths began Nov 25, with 92 birds found sick or dead. Twenty-eight sick birds were destroyed as part of the response to the outbreak.

Elsewhere, another H5N1 outbreak has been reported from Cambodia, according to foreign-language media reports flagged by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

In mid-December, Cambodia reported its first H5N1 outbreak in nearly a year, which involved a chicken farm in Kampong Chang province. About a week later it reported another at a duck farm in neighboring Kampong Thom province.

H5N8 in Russia

Meanwhile, Russia reported a highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak at a commercial poultry farm in Kostroma Oblast in the west central part of the country, according to a Dec 25 report from the OIE.

The outbreak began on Dec 17, killing 43,714 of 663,503 susceptible birds. The surviving ones were destroyed to control the spread of the virus. Russia's last H5N8 outbreak occurred in the middle of November, affecting village birds in Rostov Oblast in the far west of the country.


Global statistics of avian influenza [Government of Hong Kong, 26 Dec 2017]



http://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/global_statistics_avian_influenza_e.pdf


Awareness meet on bird flu held [Deccan Herald, 26 Dec 2017]

With the fear of bird flu outbreak gripping the district, poultry rearers should take necessary measures, warned Dr Nataraju, Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry department.

Addressing a meeting on awareness about avian influenza or bird flu among poultry rearers, at Mini Vidhana Soudha here on Tuesday, he said, "Bird flu spreads through migratory birds. The local poultry are susceptible to other diseases like Kokkare roga, Gumbaru, Cholera, ILD, EDS and others."

Nataraju pointed out that thousands of fowls (nati koli) have died due to suspected bird flu at Karaswadi village in the district. As the possibility of the disease spreading through the air is more, poultry farmers should be extra cautious. Transportation of the fowls for sale should be stopped till the disease subsides, he said.

Tahsildar Hanumantharayappa and TP EO Mahadevaswamy were present.


NIH Officially Lifts Ban on Research Studying Germs with Pandemic Potential [Futurism, 26 Dec 2017]

by Brad Jones

PANDEMIC POTENTIAL

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has lifted a three-year freeze in federal funding for research projects pertaining to germs that can cause pandemics. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new framework dictating how research that could create newer and deadlier germs with pandemic potential is funded.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that research with infectious agents is conducted responsibly, and that we consider the potential biosafety and biosecurity risks associated with such research,” wrote NIH director Francis S. Collins in a statement published on the organization’s website. “I am confident that the thoughtful review process laid out by the HHS P3CO Framework will help to facilitate the safe, secure, and responsible conduct of this type of research in a manner that maximizes the benefits to public health.

Pandemics are disease epidemics that occur worldwide and affect a large number of people, like the Spanish Flu in 1918 that killed nearly 50 million people. Typically, scientists manipulate existing pathogens – making them deadlier or easier to pass on – to better understand them and develop countermeasures against those that may threaten public health.

But the funding ban was put in place after a string of incidents involving avian flu and anthrax that raised concerns about the consequences of an accident occurring in a lab. Any research involving influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) viruses was blocked.

The issue has become a point of contention among members of the scientific community. While some argue that this work is an essential component of preparing for future pandemics, others maintain that the risks are too great.

“The public and regulators are looking for science-based advice, but, in this case, there is still considerable disagreement within the scientific community,” explained Daniel Rozell, a research assistant professor in the department of technology and society at Stony Brook University, in an email correspondence with Futurism.

“Furthermore, there is some unavoidable bias in the advice. Some of the virologists most acquainted with the specifics of the research have careers that depend on its continuance,” he said. “While they may have the best of intentions, there is still a tendency to underestimate familiar risks and to be partial towards one’s own efforts.”

RISK AND REWARD

When funding was paused in 2014, the NIH Office of Science Policy was tasked with carrying out a “comprehensive, sound, and credible” risk-benefit analysis to inform how the situation should be handled. Even this analysis proved contentious. However, risk assessments don’t just serve to determine whether or not the research can be carried out safely – they can establish best practices for doing so.

“A risk-benefit assessment is still a useful exercise because it can be used for risk exploration,” said Rozell. “When researchers are cognizant of the most likely hazards arising from a line of research, they can take steps to redesign the research to achieve the same outcome without the potential for unintended consequences.”

Research into pandemic pathogens could play a vital role in ensuring that we can respond appropriately to an outbreak – but it’s crucial that such research is carried out in such a way that it doesn’t end up causing the very situation it’s meant to address.

How Influenza Pandemics Occur 


Avian influenza overview September – November 2017 [PoultryMed, 26 Dec 2017]

Between 1 September and 15 November 2017, 48 A(H5N8) highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry holdings and 9 H5 HPAI wild bird events were reported within Europe.

A second epidemic HPAI A(H5N8) wave started in Italy on the third week of July and is still ongoing on 15 November 2017.

The Italian epidemiological investigations indicated that sharing of vehicles, sharing of personnel and close proximity to infected holdings are the more likely sources of secondary spread in a densely populated poultry area.

Despite the ongoing human exposures to infected poultry during the outbreaks, no transmission to humans has been identified in the EU.

The report includes an update of the list of wild bird target species for passive surveillance activities that is based on reported AI-infected wild birds since 2006.

The purpose of this list is to provide information on which bird species to focus in order to achieve the most effective testing of dead birds for detection of H5 HPAI viruses.

Monitoring the avian influenza situation in other continents revealed the same risks as in the previous report (October 2016-August 2017): the recent human case of HPAI A(H5N6) in China underlines the continuing threat of this avian influenza virus to human health and possible introduction via migratory wild birds into Europe.

Close monitoring is required of the situation in Africa with regards to HPAI of the subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H5N8), given the rapidity of the evolution and the uncertainty on the geographical distribution of these viruses.


S. Korea Kills 201,000 Birds to Stem Spread of Bird Flu [The Korea Bizwire, 26 Dec 2017]

4052_8988_155.jpg
Quarantine workers culled the ducks between Nov. 18 and Friday, said an official handling the issue at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He asked not to be identified. (Image: Yonhap)

SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean quarantine officials have slaughtered 201,000 birds in the country’s southwestern areas to contain the spread of avian influenza, an official said Sunday.

Quarantine workers culled the ducks between Nov. 18 and Friday, said an official handling the issue at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He asked not to be identified.

The culling came after the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain hit four duck farms in Jeongeup, Gochang and Yeongam in the country’s southwest.

Kim Yung-rok, head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, held a meeting with officials earlier in the day and called for disinfection measures at each farm to stem the spread of bird flu.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza refers to viruses that cause severe disease in birds and result in high death rates, according to the World Health Organization.

Last year, South Korea slaughtered more than 30 million birds to contain the worst outbreak of bird flu in the country’s history.


There will be another global pandemic, experts say [Luxora Leader, 26 Dec 2017]

Story highlights

・As people cross borders regularly and live closer together, the risk of outbreaks is greater than ever.

・Experts say climate change and civil unrest are also contributing to the risk
(CNN).

・It could take just one cough, one kiss, one touch or even one bite to change not only your life, but the lives of everyone around you — and for months or even years.

・In most cases, the closer those people are to you, the greater the risk. But it isn‘t always that simple.The risk at hand: an infectious outbreak.

・Public health experts believe we are at greater risk than ever of experiencing large-scale outbreaks and global pandemics like those we‘ve seen before: SARS, swine flu, Ebola and Zika.

・More than 28,000 people were infected during the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic, with over 11,000 deaths.

・And as of March 10, 84 countries have reported Zika transmission.

・That disease was , but had its first outbreak in 2007 in Micronesia, and more recently began spreading toward the end of 2015.

・Every time, the infection‘s arrival is unexpected and its scale unprecedented, leaving the world vulnerable.

・Experts are unanimous in the belief that the next outbreak contender will most likely be a surprise — and we need to be ready.

・”We‘re only as secure in the world as the weakest country,” said Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

・With so many health systems and economies in a fragile state, this means we are far from secure.”Infectious diseases respect no boundaries,” he said.

・The World Health Organization is alerted to hundreds of small outbreaks every month, he noted, which it investigates and uses to predict the chances of a bigger problem.”There are little clusters of outbreaks occurring all the time, all over the place,” Whitworth said. But with infections disregarding borders and their battle lines against humans drawn, he believes the way we live today is what opens us up to risk. “(Many) aspects of modern life put us at more risk. We are more ready than before,” he points out, highlighting the and countries with national rapid response teams — such as the United States, UK and China — ready to tackle any emergency.”But the stakes keep getting raised,” he said. Here‘s why.

1. Growing populations and urbanization

The facts around urban living are simple: You live, eat, work and move closer to people than in any rural setting, and with this comes greater opportunity for disease to spread through air, mosquitoes or unclean water .As populations grow, so will the number of city-dwellers, with 66% of the global population will live in urban areas by 2050. More people in cities can “put a strain on sanitation,” said David Heymann, head of the Centre for Global Health Security at the think tank Chatham House. Beyond people‘s close proximity, “this is a second source of infection,” he said, and a third is increased food demand, causing farmers to grow more food, with more animals, making them likely to live closer to those animals as well.Animals are reservoirs for many diseases, including cattle for tuberculosis and African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) and poultry for avian flu. With people moving more regularly from — and between — rural settings to urban ones, the chances of them becoming infected and then living in close quarters with others further boosts the potential for things to spread.

2. Encroaching into new environments

As numbers of people grow, so does the amount of land needed to house them. Populations expand into previously uninhabited territories, such as forests. With new territories comes with new animals and, inevitably, new infections.For one example, “Lassa fever occurs because people live in the forest and destroy it for farming,” Heymann said. is a viral disease spread by with the feces of infected rodents. It can cause fever and hemorrhaging of various parts of the body, including the eyes and nose. Person-to-person transmission is also possible, albeit less common. Outbreaks generally occur in West Africa, with higher than expected rates in Nigeria since 2016.Heymann explains that Lassa is one example of people living near forest environments where infected rodents reside, but destruction of those forests for agriculture leaves the animals nowhere to go — other than humans‘ homes.”The rodents that live there can‘t get food and go into human areas for food,” he said.

3. Climate change

Evidence continues to emerge that climate change is resulting in greater numbers of heat waves and flooding events, bringing more opportunity for waterborne diseases such as cholera and for disease vectors such as mosquitoes in new regions.”Flooding is occurring with increased frequency,” Heymann said, and with that comes greater risk of outbreaks.Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is projected to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year from heat stress, malnutrition and the spread of infectious diseases like malaria, according to the World Health Organization.With disease carriers like mosquitoes increasingly able to live in new unprotected territory, the risk of an outbreak is high.Whitworth cited the current yellow fever outbreak in Angola, which has infected more than 350 people. He explained that as workers from China returned home from Angola, any yellow fever infection could have been transmitted by mosquitoes in China.But, the workers‘ return in winter meant the insects weren‘t around to transmit through bites. Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableGrowing populations and urbanization – The globe‘s growing population creates greater opportunity for disease to spread through air, mosquitoes or unclean water, particularly in urban areas. T 66% of the global population will live in urban areas by 2050.Hide Caption 1 of 7 Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableEncroaching into new environments – As humans expand into previously uninhabited territories such as forests, they are more likely to come into more frequent with wild animals and, inevitably, new infections.Hide Caption 2 of 7 Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableClimate change – Evidence suggests climate change is causing greater numbers of heat waves and flooding events, bringing more opportunity for waterborne diseases such as cholera and for diseases carried by mosquitoes.Hide Caption 3 of 7 Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableGlobal travel – According to experts, infectious agents can live in humans during their incubation period — the time between infection and the onset of symptoms — meaning that travelers can transmit an infection to another region even though they don‘t appear to be sick. International tourist arrivals reached a record of almost 1.2 billion in 2015.Hide Caption 4 of 7 Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableCivil conflict – If a country is on the brink of breakdown from civil unrest, its ability to handle an intense and sudden outbreak could bring its people to their knees — and allow the infection to flourish.Hide Caption 5 of 7 Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableFaster spread of information – In the information age, new means of communication bring higher levels of fear and multiple ways to spread it, experts believe. More than 90% of the world‘s population will be covered by mobile broadband networks by 2021, according to the UN. Hide Caption 6 of 7 Photos: Seven reasons why a global pandemic is inevitableFewer doctors and nurses in outbreak regions – Countries where outbreaks are more likely to occur also have fewer doctors and nurses to treat the population. Most have left for better prospects elsewhere. Here a nurse administers a yellow fever vaccine in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Hide Caption 7 of 7

4. Global travel

“We‘re vulnerable because of increased travel,” Whitworth said.International tourist arrivals reached a record of almost 1.2 billion in 2015, according to the UN World Tourism Organization, 50 million more than 2014. It was the sixth consecutive year of above-average growth. And with greater numbers moving at all times come greater options for infections to hop a ride.Global travel enables infections to spread before symptoms develop.”Infectious agents travel around in humans many times within their incubation period,” Heymann said. An incubation period is the time between infection and the onset of symptoms, meaning people can transmit an infection though they won‘t appear to be sick.Thepandemic of 2003 is thought to have begun with Dr. Liu Jianlun, who developed symptoms of the airborne virus on a trip to Huang Xingchu in China and then went to visit family in Hong Kong. He infected people at his hotel and his family. He was then hospitalized and died, as did one of his relatives. In less than four months, about 4,000 cases and 550 deaths from SARS could be traced to Liu‘s stay in Hong Kong. More than 8,000 other people became infected across more than 30 countries worldwide.But Heymann stresses that “it‘s not just humans” who spread disease through travel. Infections spread through insects, food and animals moved between countries. “It‘s also trade,” he said, pointing to airport malaria, in which people in airports have become infected with malaria through mosquitoes that have hitched a ride on a plane or in food.He also described bird flu that was stopped at the Belgian border in being traded as pets in 2004. Guinea rats shipped as pets in the harbored infections with monkey pox, he noted, which then entered prairie dogs and eventually humans.

5. Civil conflict

“If a health system cannot handle (an outbreak), there‘s pandemonium,” Heymann said. He believes that poor hygiene is not a valid excuse anywhere, even in developing settings, as sterilization and hand-washing are straightforward.Civil unrest can impair the ability of a country‘s health system to handle an outbreak.But if a country is on the brink of breakdown from civil unrest, the ability to handle an intense and sudden problem like an outbreak could bring its people to their knees — and allow the infection to flourish.”Outbreaks can completely paralyze countries,” said Whitworth, citing the 2014 Ebola epidemic in which Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia were “quite close to collapsing.”Civil unrest had plagued all three countries, leaving their economic and health infrastructures in dire need of rebuilding — and ill-prepared for a major infection to strike.That problem combined with human movement between these three countries and others more globally meant Ebola was able to spread, even though dozens of infections in previous years in nearby Democratic Republic of Congo were self-contained and often resolved themselves.”If (an infection) stays local, it burns out,” Heymann said. “People learn what to do.”

6. Fewer doctors and nurses in outbreak regions

Beyond weak health systems, countries where outbreaks are more likely to occur — namely, more developing settings — also have fewer doctors and nurses to treat the population. Most have left for better prospects elsewhere. “We have to deal with that as a reality,” Heymann said, adding that some countries even encourage young medical talent to travel to new regions.”It‘s difficult to manage health worker migration,” he said. But programs and strategies are underway to tackle this by “task-shifting,” moving responsibilities to new groups and training them to deliver care, such as community health workers. “Communities have to be resilient,” he said, and assigning tasks to people at all levels could mean a greater team available when a new infection strikes.

7. Faster information

In the information age, new levels of communication bring even newer levels of fear and multiple ways to spread it, experts believe. Although the majority of small outbreaks may once have gone largely unknown by populations farther from the epicenter, people today are more informed than ever and require transparent, factual information to be fast-flowing.Google has been been using searches for symptoms to help identify when an outbreak may occur, such as with the flu. “The world looks for an authority,” said Heymann, who believes the WHO adopts that role but needs to be faster and more transparent with information. The for being too slow to respond and unprepared for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.”But social media has become active … and that‘s an area that‘s difficult to control,” he said.The posting and shaping of information by multiple people can change messaging and what people read and believe, Heymann added. It may not all be bad, he said, but the point is that it can shape the way information travels, potentially inciting fear and stigma.”Not all information on the internet or social media is accurate,” said Mark Feinberg, chairman of the scientific advisory committee of the recently launched Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. “Ensuring accurate communication to the public is critically important.” The coalition, launched in January, will address the surprise nature of outbreaks and epidemics to try to prevent them, rather than respond to them.

Lining up the elements

Heymann describes the likelihood of a new infection spreading rapidly and becoming an epidemic — and potentially a global pandemic — using the analogy of lining up pieces of Swiss cheese, with the different risk factors equating to holes in the cheese. “When they line up, you get an epidemic,” he said.He highlighted an outbreak of Rift Valley virus in East Africa in 1997.

The combination of an El Niño event pushing humans away from their homes and closer to cattle, combined with increased rainfall producing more breeding sites for disease-spreading mosquitoes, led to the largest documented outbreak of this virus. It involved five countries and infected an estimated 90,000 people.”All these (factors) came together and led to an outbreak,” Heymann said.Despite what we know about the aspects of modern life that put us at greater risk, all three experts believe the world is not quite ready to handle what is inevitably coming.”We need to do a lot better,” Feinberg said. “We need to prepare in advance, not respond.”His program, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is working to do just that. It‘s aiding the development of vaccines against viruses that it believes need attention and are in families of infections that are likely to pose a risk, such as MERS CoV, which continues to persist in the Middle East and has been reported in almost 20 countries outside that region.Join the conversation

The program will also be looking to develop platforms on which vaccines can be made more rapidly so that the general development time frame of 15 to 20 years can be shrunk significantly to respond to a new virus — even moreso than those being developed against Ebola and Zika.”That‘s the kind of capability we need,” Feinberg said. “The pathogens we don‘t know about pose the greatest threat.”Combined with other global and national strategies programs — such as WHO regulations and national response teams — Feinberg is optimistic.”We are far away from that goal,” he said. “But I am encouraged, as they are all working on this.”


Bird flu forces cull of 22 million poultry [Al Jazeera, 25 Dec 2017]

Kore-22m.jpg


South Korean authorities have culled more than 22.5 million poultry this winter, according to an official, as part of intense efforts to contain its worst bird flu epidemic in recent history that has affected farms across the country.

The total number slaughtered since November 18 accounts for about 15 percent of the country's poultry stock. The first outbreak was reported at a chicken farm in Haenam (海南), about 420km south of the capital Seoul.

Authorities also plan to kill an additional 2.97 million chickens and ducks across the country in coming days, the country's Yonhap News Agency reported on Saturday.

"Korea has suffered from several bird flu outbreaks since 2003. I can tell you this year is the worst year ever," said Oh Se-ul, chairman of the Korea Poultry Association.

The outbreak, the first in nearly seven months, has been caused by the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain of bird flu, a new type of virus that was first detected in South Korea.

Previous cases

In 2014, South Korea had culled 14 million birds amid a bird flu outbreak. As of the end of March this year, the country had killed more than 156 million chickens and more than 9.5 million ducks, according to government data.

Because most of the birds culled since last month are egg-laying hens, the consequential shortage in eggs has caused their prices to rise sharply.

In South Korea, the average retail price for 30 eggs has risen nearly 25 percent to $5.68 since November 18 - the highest in more than three years, according to state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.

According to data from the institution, it is the highest month-on-month increase in egg prices in nearly a decade.

Besides the price increases, some stores are restricting egg purchases.

To ease the shortage, South Korea's agriculture ministry is seeking to import egg-laying chickens and eggs from the US, Spain and New Zealand.

Analysts say the egg shortage is expected to last at least one year as it could take up to two years for egg and poultry industry to raise baby chickens and rebuild flocks.

Yoon Se-young, a farmer in Seoul, says he is worried because the government has not yet announced any plans to compensate farmers who had to cull their poultry.

"It has been a month since I had to kill all my chickens and bury them," he said. "However, I have not heard of any clear explanation on how the government will compensate for my loss."

Jeong In-hwa, a member of South Korea's Parliamentary Agriculture Committee, says that with the issue of President Park Geun-hye's impeachment taking the spotlight, the media has failed to highlight the bird flu epidemic.

"As the impeachment becomes the most important national issue, protesters at candlelight rallies are dominating the headlines," he said. "Because of that, the avian flu isn't getting much attention."

Japan and China

Japan and China have also taken serious measures to control the bird flu outbreak that spread across northeast Asia.

Japan launched a new chicken cull on a southern island, days after gassing hundreds of thousands of birds about 2,400km to the north.

Tackling Japan's sixth outbreak since end-November, Kyushu authorities said they will gas just over 120,000 chickens after the H5 virus was detected on a farm.

The outbreak in Japan's Miyazaki prefecture follows the gassing of more than 200,000 chickens at a farm in the northern island of Hokkaido last weekend and brings the country's cull this season to nearly a million chickens and ducks.

The cases in Japan - outbreaks before Miyazaki were all confirmed as H5N6 bird flu - are the first in nearly two years, with the bird cull now standing at its highest in six years.

In China, chickens are being fed more vitamins and vaccines, while farmers also ramp up henhouse sterilisation in an effort to protect their flocks.

As part of its protection drive, China now has bans in place on poultry imports from more than 60 countries, including South Korea and Japan, as well as parts of Europe now also experiencing a bird flu outbreak.

The last major outbreak in mainland China in 2013 killed 36 people and caused about $6.5bn in losses to the agriculture sector.

According to the website of China's agriculture ministry, delegations from Japan, South Korea and China gathered in Beijing last week for a symposium on preventing and controlling bird flu and other diseases in East Asia.


New report from Economic Research Service examines impact of avian flu [High Plains Journal, 24 Dec 2017]

Between December 2014 and June 2015, more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in the United States died of highly pathogenic avian influenza or were destroyed to stop the spread of the disease, according to Impacts of the 2014-2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreak on the U.S. Poultry Sector, a new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service.

These birds accounted for about 12 percent of the U.S. table-egg laying population and 8 percent of the estimated inventory of turkeys grown for meat. In response to this historic animal-disease event, many destination markets for U.S. poultry commodities levied trade restrictions on U.S. poultry exports, distorting markets and exacerbating economic losses.

This report provides an overview of the 2014-2015 HPAI outbreak and its resulting impacts on U.S. poultry production, trade, and prices. For more information about this report, you can contact the lead author, Sean Ramos, at 202-694-5443 or sean.ramos@ers.usda.gov.


S. Korea kills 201,000 birds to stem spread of bird flu [The Korea Herald, 24 Dec 2017]

South Korean quarantine officials have slaughtered 201,000 birds in the country‘s southwestern areas to contain the spread of avian influenza, an official said Sunday.

Quarantine workers culled the ducks from Nov. 19 to Sunday, said an official handling the issue at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He asked not to be identified.

The culling came after the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain hit four duck farms in Jeongeup, Gochang and Yeongam in the country’s southwest.

20171224000078_0.jpg


Highly pathogenic avian influenza refers to viruses that cause severe disease in birds and result in high death rates, according to the World Health Organization.

Last year, South Korea slaughtered more than 30 million birds to contain the worst outbreak of bird flu in the country‘s history. (Yonhap)



Saudi Arabia confirms H5N8 bird flu outbreak [The National, 23 Dec 2017]

US-LIFESTYLE-ANIMAL-FOOD.jpg
Saudi Arabia has confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT

The virus killed 14 birds at an unspecified location in Riyadh, leading to the culling of about 60,000 birds in total

Saudi Arabia has confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks.

Based on information from Dr Ali Al Doweiriej, director general of Veterinary Health and Monitoring Department, the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain infected and killed 14 birds at an unspecified location in the Saudi capital, says the World organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which is based in Paris. Other birds in a flock of around 60,000 exposed to the virus were culled.

Bird flu strains have hit poultry flocks in a number of countries across the world in recent years, with some types of the disease also causing human infections and deaths.

Saudi Arabia this year imposed restrictions on poultry imports from countries such as Bulgaria in an effort to prevent the disease spreading. The Saudi ministry of environment, water and agriculture has also taken other preventive measures including collecting samples for testing and preparing an emergency plan. Last week, the ministry lifted a temporary ban on importing poultry and eggs from Greece, the Czech Republic, Romania and Mozambique after receiving confirmation from the OIE that there had been no new outbreaks of bird flu in those countries in the past three months.

Avian or bird flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that is hosted by birds but may infect several species of mammals, including horses, seals, whales, pig and humans. The virus was first identified in Italy in the early 1900s and has now spread worldwide.


H5N6 strain of avian influenza detected at duck farm in Jeollabuk-do Province [The World On Arirang, 23 Dec 2017]

A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza has been confirmed by authorities on Saturday at a duck farm in Jeongeup city, Jeollabuk-do Province.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it found the H5N6 strain of the virus on the farm, the same strain found among wild birds in Cheonan city, central Chungcheongnam-do Province.

The farm's 29-thousand ducks will be culled, bringing the total number of ducks culled this season to 201-thousand.

This is the fourth case of avian influenza from domestic farms this winter, with all cases coming from duck farms.


Saudi Arabia confirms H5N8 bird flu outbreak [The National, 23 Dec 2017]

The virus killed 14 birds at an unspecified location in Riyadh, leading to the culling of about 60,000 birds in total

Saudi Arabia has confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks.

Based on information from Dr Ali Al Doweiriej, director general of Veterinary Health and Monitoring Department, the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain infected and killed 14 birds at an unspecified location in the Saudi capital, says the World organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which is based in Paris. Other birds in a flock of around 60,000 exposed to the virus were culled.

Bird flu strains have hit poultry flocks in a number of countries across the world in recent years, with some types of the disease also causing human infections and deaths.

Saudi Arabia this year imposed restrictions on poultry imports from countries such as Bulgaria in an effort to prevent the disease spreading. The Saudi ministry of environment, water and agriculture has also taken other preventive measures including collecting samples for testing and preparing an emergency plan. Last week, the ministry lifted a temporary ban on importing poultry and eggs from Greece, the Czech Republic, Romania and Mozambique after receiving confirmation from the OIE that there had been no new outbreaks of bird flu in those countries in the past three months.

Avian or bird flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that is hosted by birds but may infect several species of mammals, including horses, seals, whales, pig and humans. The virus was first identified in Italy in the early 1900s and has now spread worldwide.


S. Korea confirms highly pathogenic AI at another duck farm [Yonhap News, 23 Dec 2017]

SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government on Saturday confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) at a local duck farm, raising the total number of contaminated farms to four throughout the country.
The H5N6 bird flu was discovered on the farm with 29,000 ducks in Jeongeup, 260 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The latest discovery raised the total number of farms contaminated with the disease to four, including one in Gochang, 300 km southwest of Seoul, and two in Yeongam, 380 km south of the capital.
The government said influenza found in wild bird droppings in Cheonan, 90 km south of Seoul, also tested positive as H5N6.
Including the flu found in wild bird droppings, nine cases have been confirmed as highly pathogenic AI this season.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza refers to viruses that cause severe disease in birds and result in high death rates, according to the World Health Organization.
South Korea has been stepping up quarantine measures at duck farms in the southwestern region as outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu caused alarm in the major duck producing area.
Last year, South Korea slaughtered more than 30 million birds to contain the worst outbreak of bird flu to have hit the country.

AEN20171223002400320_01_i.jpg
In this file photo, taken on Nov. 27, 2017, a disinfectant is sprayed by a quarantine vehicle in Goseong, 460 kilometers south of Seoul, to prevent the spread of bird flu. (Yonhap)
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