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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from Dec 1 2016



 Deadly bird flu just 30 miles from UK shore as cases confirmed near Calais [Daily Star, Dec 3 2016]

By Peter Truman

THERE are fears killer bird flu could return to the UK after new cases emerged in France.

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OUTBREAK: Bird-flu is now just 30 miles off the coast

It marks the closest outbreak yet of the killer virus since the famous Bernard Matthews turkey outbreak in 2007.

It comes as more cases have been confirmed in southwest France especially among duck farms.

Two farms in the Tarn district are the latest to be hit with authorities confirming 7,000 animals will be culled.

The news cases are the H5N8 strain of the virus compared to the H5N1 that came to UK shores in 2007.

Although H5N8 has never been detected in humans, a 2014 epidemic in Asia led to the culling of millions of farm birds.

There are fears there could be a repeat with the disease linked to migratory birds following cases discovered in gulls near Calais.
The outbreak follows similar cases in the Netherlands and Japan.

UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: “We are closely monitoring outbreaks of avian influenza across Europe.While no cases have been found in the UK, and PHE advises the public health threat is low, we urge farmers and poultry keepers to look for signs of avian flu, particularly in wild birds, and report any suspicions to their vet immediately.

"While no cases have been found in the UK, and PHE advises the public health threat is low, we urge farmers and poultry keepers to look for signs of avian flu, particularly in wild birds, and report any suspicions to their vet immediately."

Meanwhile Brits are being warned of a Christmas meningitis epidemic – and not to be fooled by flu-like early-warning signs, a health charity warned.

And there are also warnings to avoid mysterious blobs on UK beaches, with authorities insisting they’re deadly.



 Bird-flu outbreak in SW France [The Connexion, Dec 3 2016]


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Photo: Katriona McCarthy / CC BY 2.0

AN OUTBREAK of bird flu has been confirmed on a duck farm in the Tarn department.

The case of the highly contagious H5N8 avian influenza virus was confirmed, the agriculture ministry said, days after the virus was detected among wild birds in northern France and following outbreaks across Europe linked to migrating birds.

The outbreak killed 2,000 out of a flock of 5,000 ducks on the farm and the remaining birds are to be culled, the ministry said. The strain was detected at a second farm nearby - meaning some 7,000 ducks had to be culled.

The H5N8 strains has never spread to humans, but millions of farm birds in Asia were culled in 2014 before the flu spread to Europe.

Officials have also reported cases of H5N8 in three other departments in southwest France - Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées and Lot-et-Garonne. The ministry said all confirmed cases were linked to the initial outbreak in Tarn, and that the spread was caused by transporting livestock.

Meanwhile, France Bleu has reported a the virus has been found in wild birds in the Haute-Savoie.



 New bird flu outbreak hits French foie gras exporters [Bangkok Post, Dec 3 2016]

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The H5N8 variant of bird flu, which also hit duck farmers in the Netherlands last month, is highly infectious for poultry but poses little danger to humans

PARIS - A new outbreak of bird flu hit France's foie gras producers just as a ban on exports outside Europe was about to be lifted in time for the crucial holiday period.

The H5N8 variant of bird flu, which also hit duck farmers in the Netherlands last month, is highly infectious for poultry but poses little danger to humans

The agriculture ministry said the outbreak of the "highly pathogenic" H5N8 strain of the virus was detected Thursday on a duck farm in the southwestern Tarn region, the heart of the lucrative, though controversial, foie gras industry.

Exports outside the European Union had been suspended after an outbreak a year ago, and producers were waiting for the green light -- which had been set for Saturday -- to resume shipments just in time for the Christmas holidays, when the delicacy is especially popular.

Japan, a top export market for foie gras, banned imports from France last December after the
H5N1 strain was detected on 69 farms in southwestern France.

As a result of the fresh outbreak, France will be unable to "recover, as anticipated, its status as (a country) free of bird flu" on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement.

Sales within the EU can continue, however, the ministry said.

It said migratory birds were the likely source of the outbreak.

Some 7,000 ducks were slaughtered while a further 4,500 had died from illness in the region, officials said.

Authorities later announced a number of confirmed or suspected cases of bird flu in the southwestern regions of Gers, Hautes-Pyrenees and Lot-et-Garonne -- where ducks from the supplier of the Tarn farm had been transported -- leading to around 7,000 further birds being culled.

Producers must now wait another three months for the export go-ahead, as long as no further cases are discovered.

A protection zone has been declared within a three-kilometre (two-mile) radius of the Tarn farm, as well as a 10-kilometre surveillance zone.

Foie gras has become a battleground between animals rights campaigners and defenders of France's gourmet traditions.

Force-feeding of geese and ducks to produce foie gras (fatty liver) has been banned in several countries but is legal in France.

The process fattens the birds to around four times their natural body weight.

The H5N8 variant of bird flu, which also hit duck farmers in the Netherlands last month, is highly infectious for poultry but poses little danger to humans.

The H5N1 strain, however, has killed more than 420 people, mainly in southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003.



 Fresh bird flu cases emerge in France [euronews, Dec 3, 2016]

The slaughter of thousands of farm birds in southwest France have been put to the slaughter as the country attempts to halt the spread of bird flu.

A new outbreak of bird flu has been reported in southwest France and is confirmed to be spreading across the region in a fresh blow to the country’s foie gras heartland.

France’s agriculture ministry said new cases of H5N8 avian influenza has been observed on a duck farm in the Tarn administrative department.

Local authorities in Tarn said the virus had been detected on a second farm nearby and that some 7,000 ducks were to be culled in the area.

The disease is confirmed to have spread to four other departments in southwest France after cases were discovered in Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées and Lot-et-Garonne, which neighbour Tarn.

Although this particular strain of the virus has never been detected in humans, a 2014 epidemic in Asia led to the culling of millions of farm birds.

Following the discovery of cases in wild birds in northern France a few days ago and further outbreaks across Europe, the disease has been linked to migratory birds.

Cases were discovered in gulls in Pas-de-Calais and Haute-Savoie.

The country’s poultry and foie gras producers are still reeling from a bird flu epidemic a year ago, and the latest series of cases has led to the slaughter of livestock on some farms.

Duck farmer Frédéric Florenchie said: “It is a question of re-stocking here, and it is likely to affect prices. We just don’t know yet what the economic effect will be.”

Preventative measures such as keeping commercial flocks inside are also being taken.
This is the latest set back for the country’s foie gras heartland which is still reeling from an outbreak of the H5N8 virus last year.

Producers estimate that recent measures to halt the spread of the disease have cut output of the delicacy by a quarter and driven up prices by 10 percent.

Exports of the product, made from duck or goose livers, to countries outside Europe have been banned since late 2015.



 H5N8 expands in France as H5N6 strikes more Korean farms [CIDRAP News, Dec 2 2016]

Lisa Schnirring, News Editor

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Barry Lewis / Flickr cc
Ducks in Tarn department, France, where H5N8 recently struck.

French veterinary officials today said the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu strain spreading quickly though Europe has been detected for the first time in the country's poultry in the south.

Also South Korea is reporting several new outbreaks of H5N6 avian flu, which, according to a new report from China, has replaced H5N1 as the dominant strain in that country's poultry.
French outbreak strikes foie gras ducks

In a report today to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), France's agriculture ministry said H5N8 struck an open-air farm in Tarn department that raises ducks for foie gras production. An increase in duck deaths was noted on Nov 25, and samples taken on Nov 28 yielded positive results for H5N8 yesterday.

The virus killed 2,000 of 5,143 ducks, and the remaining birds will be culled today, as well as those on a nearby farm as a precautionary measure.

Tarn is located in southwestern France, in an area that saw its foie gras industry hit hard this time last year by outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1, H5N2, and H5N9.

France's first detection of the H5N8 strain came about a week ago when the virus turned up in wild ducks in Pas de Calais department in northern France.

H5N6 expands in South Korea

In H5N6 developments in Asia, South Korea today reported six more outbreaks in two provinces where the virus has already struck poultry: Chungcheong and South Jeolla.

According to a report to the OIE, the outbreaks began on Nov 21 and Nov 22 at farms housing 53,024 birds. Officials didn't include the number of poultry deaths but said the birds were stamped out to curb the spread of the virus.

In Japan, where H5N6 has already been confirmed in poultry in two prefectures, the environmental ministry said it is investigating avian flu detections in five more: Fukushima,
Hyogo, Miyagi, Iwate, and Ibaraki, according to a government statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

It's not clear yet if the detections involve H5N6. The eight new events in the Japanese government report involve wild birds, protected birds, and poultry.

In Taiwan, which is on the same migratory pathway as the birds thought to have spread H5N6 from China to South Korea and Japan, enhanced surveillance has found several low-pathogenic H5 and H7 avian flu viruses in environmental samples collected from area wetlands. The Bureau of Animal Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine detailed the findings in a report translated and posted by AFD.

In their report, the Taiwanese officials urged poultry producers to enhance their biosecurity measures.

Chinese team warns of H5N6 threat

Researchers from China who tested birds at live-poultry markets from 2014 to 2016 to assess what subtypes are circulating and how they are evolving reported their findings yesterday in Cell Host and Microbe. They based their analysis on 3,174 samples and sequences from 1,135 of the viruses.

H5N6 was first detected in Laos in 2013, then spread to China and Vietnam, according to the report. The virus is a novel reassortant between H5N1 and H6N6 and has caused 17 human illnesses in China since 2014.

The virus has become one of the dominant subtype in southern China, especially in ducks, replacing H5N1, the group wrote. Their genetic analysis showed 34 distinct H5N6 genotypes, including 4 that have infected people. One of the 4 was linked to five human illnesses.

Though waterfowl are the natural reservoirs of avian flu virus and play a role in their geographic reach, China's live-poultry trade enhances their transmission and spread, and the team noted that almost all of the people infected with H5N6 had exposure to poultry or live markets, underscoring the importance of infection prevention in those settings.

Chickens vaccinated against H5N1, routinely done in the country, show protection against H5N6 but still shed the live virus. The authors said a large number of healthy birds sampled in the study were positive for H5N6, revealing flaws in current vaccination strategies.

The researchers wrote that broad distribution of H5N6 in China and Southeast Asia increases the threat to humans, and they said studies have hinted that the virus has increased capacity to bind to human receptors and increased transmissibility in mammals.

"These findings combined with our results demonstrate that H5N6 viruses pose a considerable threat to public health despite the limited number of human cases," they concluded.



 Bird flu found on French farm [CBS News, Dec 2, 2016]

PARIS -- France has detected a case of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu on a duck farm in the southwest of the country, the agriculture ministry confirmed Friday.

This is the first outbreak of the virus on a farm in the European Union’s biggest poultry breeder since a case of H5N8 was confirmed among wild ducks in Normandy last week, the ministry said.

The virus killed 2,000 out of a flock of 5,000 ducks on a farm in the Tarn region, and the remaining birds were to be culled, the Reuters news agency reported.

France was one day away from attempting to reclaim its international status as free of highly pathogenic avian flu, according to Reuters. The latest case means a ban remains in place preventing France from exporting poultry or foie gras beyond Europe.

Earlier this year, a severe bird flu epidemic in the southwest of the country led to import restrictions from trading partners and a 25% drop in duck and geese output from France’s foie gras-producing region. Foie gras is a traditional holiday staple in France, and the industry had warned of shortages and soaring prices over the festive season.



 France detects H5N8 bird flu on duck farm [The Daily Star, Dec 2, 2016]

Reuters
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PARIS: France has detected a case of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu on a duck farm in the southwest, the first on-farm outbreak of the virus in the European Union's biggest poultry breeder, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

The outbreak follows a case of H5N8 confirmed among wild ducks in northern France this week and is the latest of a series of outbreaks in Europe.

The virus killed 2,000 out of a flock of 5,000 ducks on a farm in the Tarn region, and the remaining birds are to be culled as part of preventative measures, the ministry said in a statement.

The new case means France will not be able to regain its international status as being free of
highly pathogenic avian flu, a status it aimed to recover on Dec. 3 if no further cases had been found following the wild bird outbreak.

France, which has the largest poultry flock in the EU, is recovering from a severe bird flu epidemic in the southwest earlier this year, which led to a halting of duck and geese output in the foie gras-producing region and import restrictions from trading partners.

International animal health standards should allow France to continue exporting after the new outbreak, the ministry said, referring to the practice of restricting exports from specific affected areas rather than the whole country.



 Bird flu returns to France's southwest foie gras heartland [Reuters, Dec 2, 2016]

France confirmed on Friday an outbreak of severe bird flu on a duck farm in the southwest and said the virus was spreading in the region, in a setback for French poultry and foie gras producers recovering from a bird flu epidemic a year ago.

The H5N8 avian influenza virus was confirmed at a farm in the Tarn administrative department, the agriculture ministry said, days after the virus was detected among wild birds in northern France and following outbreaks in Europe linked to migrating birds.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans, unlike some other strains, but it led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia in 2014 before it spread to Europe.

A series of cases of H5N8 and other bird flu strains in Europe in recent weeks has led to slaughtering of poultry on some farms and preventative measures such as keeping commercial flocks indoors.

In France, the H5N8 outbreak killed 2,000 out of a flock of 5,000 ducks on the first identified farm in the Tarn and the remaining birds are to be culled, the ministry said.

The authorities in the Tarn later said the virus had been detected at a second farm nearby and that some 7,000 ducks were being slaughtered in the area.

Local officials also reported cases of the H5N8 virus in three other administrative departments in southwest France, the region famous for its production of foie gras, the specialty made from duck and goose liver.

The ministry later confirmed the spread of the virus, saying the different cases were linked to the initial outbreak in the Tarn and caused by transport of infected animals.

The outbreak means France, the European Union's biggest poultry breeder, will not be able to regain for now its international status as being free of highly pathogenic flu.

It had aimed to recover that status on Dec. 3 had no further cases been found, the ministry said.

Now it won't be cleared for at least another 90 days, delaying a return to normal trade with countries such as Japan that imposed blanket bans on French poultry products during the previous wave of outbreaks.

"The immediate consequence is regarding the bird flu-free status," Marie-Pierre Pe, spokeswoman for foie gras makers' group CIFOG, said. "This outbreak puts back by four months the possible reopening of trade barriers."

Producers estimate that a four-month halt to duck and geese breeding earlier this year to stamp out the previous wave of bird flu will reduce foie gras output by a quarter this year and raise prices by about 10 percent, just as demand peaks in the year-end festive season.

Some countries have limited trade restrictions to areas of France where bird flu has been detected and the agriculture ministry said this practice should allow France to continue exporting after the new outbreak.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Valerie Parent and Gerard Bon; Editing by Richard Balmforth/Ruth Pitchford)



 Niigata records another bird flu outbreak; 230,000 chickens culled [The Japan Times, Dec 1, 2016]

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Chickens are culled Wednesday at a poultry farm in Sekikawa, Niigata Prefecture, where bird flu was detected. | KYODO

NIIGATA – An outbreak of bird flu is suspected in a coastal area of Niigata Prefecture, the local government said Wednesday, following the recent discovery of highly pathogenic avian flu in an inland area.

The announcement came as the country is trying to stem the spread of avian influenza, which has also affected ducks on a farm in Aomori Prefecture.

In the latest case in Niigata Prefecture, around 100 chickens died between Tuesday and Wednesday morning at a farm in Joetsu on the Sea of Japan coast, and six of those birds tested positive after preliminary analysis.

The prefectural government began culling all the 230,000 chickens on the farm Thursday without waiting for the outcome of further tests, based on the request of the farm ministry.

The Niigata government is also in the process of culling approximately 310,000 chickens at a poultry farm in Sekikawa — about 140 km from Joetsu — after announcing Tuesday that tests had confirmed the presence of the highly virulent H5 strain of the bird flu virus.

In Aomori, around 18,000 ducks have been culled at a farm where ducks tested positive for the H5 bird flu strain. Prefectural officials and construction company workers are burying them.

These are the first cases of infection in domestic poultry since January 2015, when bird flu was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.

Farm minister Yuji Yamamoto called for further steps to prevent bird flu from spreading, saying in a government meeting Wednesday that “the initial response is important.”



 Aggressive H5N8 Bird Flu Strain Prompts Duck Culls in Europe [Care2, Dec 1, 2016]

By: Steve Williams

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Photo Credit: MiNe/Flickr

An estimated 190,000 ducks have been culled in the Netherlands as health authorities attempt to stop the spread of a highly virulent strain of bird flu throughout northern Europe.

The outbreak affected six farms near the village of Biddinghuizen, about 70km from Amsterdam. So far, officials have not confirmed which strain of the virus was detected, however the BBC reports that the H5N8 strain is currently impacting Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Finland.

According to Reuters, French authorities have also detected H5N8 in wild duck populations. That latter outbreak has not found its way to domestic farms. For the moment, France’s farming community remains on high alert, but the country has not yet mobilized a response.

The cull in the Netherlands is the first that the region has had to implement this year. While the loss of 190,000 birds may seem severe — and, indeed, may raise questions about farming practices — there is a lot at stake.

Because the Netherlands houses one of the world’s largest intensive farming operations, the nation’s livestock and fowl populations are high. Certain H5 strains of the avian flu virus — like this one — are notoriously aggressive and spread quickly, meaning that swift action is necessary to safeguard animals.

Of course, this situation highlights persistent criticisms of intensive farming. Inevitably, keeping animals in such close confines makes them vulnerable to disease.

Does H5N8 pose a risk to humans?

In total, it’s estimated that eight European countries have experienced H5 outbreaks in wild bird populations — and in a minority of cases, domestic farm birds. According to research, this is only the second time that H5N8 has reached European shores via bird migration and managed to cause a significant outbreak.

The burning question is: does H5N8 have the potential to threaten human lives?

At the moment, the answer is no.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC):

No human infections with this virus have ever been reported world-wide. ECDC’s updated rapid risk assessment concludes that the risk of transmission to the general public in Europe is considered to be very low.

The ECDC also points out that the virus itself has remained relatively unchanged since it started circulating across Asia in 2010, suggesting that, in the near future at least, it is unlikely to pose a significant health to humans.

That doesn’t mean we should diminish the potential for the virus to spread through bird populations, however. Viruses can change, so monitoring and limiting bird flu exposure is the best way to safeguard animal and human health.

It is also recommended that members of the public steer clear of areas where birds have died to minimize human exposure.

Bird flu: Not just a European problem
Europe isn’t the only region battling bird flu, however. For example, Japan has been fighting a highly pathogenic H5 strain of the virus since 2015.

It was confirmed on Tuesday of last week that poultry farms in the Niigata and Aomori prefectures were affected after the discovery of dead birds that tested positive for the virus.

This led to a cull of about 330,000 chickens and ducks. Transport restrictions have now been placed on the farms in question and surrounding areas to minimize any broader impact.
Infections are not expected to peak until January, so there will likely be more culling to come.

Millions of animals are slaughtered every year to prevent the spread of bird flu, swine flu and other diseases like BSE, adding to the criticism that intensive farming is simply unsustainable.

Regardless, health agencies are keen to push forward with bird flu vaccines for the H5N8 strain, among others. They cite that because these strains are virulent, standard containment isn’t always effective.

Whether the farming industry will welcome that decision is another matter.

Accepting vaccines would mean admitting that bird flu is endemic to the U.S., Europe and/or Asia. This, the farming sector argues, would impact sales. However, as bird flu continues to spread, the farming industry is running out of options.

The industry must either act now or face a more desperate future.



 OIE: First high-path avian flu in Tunisia [CIDRAP News, Dec 1, 2016]

Stephanie Soucheray, News Reporter

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Len Blumin / Flickr cc

Today the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) released three new reports that show highly pathogenic avian flu spreading in both northern Africa and northern Europe.

Tunisia confirms H5 in wild birds
Thirty wild wigeons and coots were found dead in Ichkeul National Park, on the northern tip of Tunisia, according to an OIE report. The birds tested positive for highly pathogenic H5 on Nov 30, but the subtype is still unknown.

This is the first time Tunisia has reported a highly pathogenic avian strain. The country, however, is located in the center of a migration corridor that takes birds from Europe to northern Africa during the winter months, and Ishkeul Lake and the surrounding wetlands is a major stopover point for migratory birds.

As more countries in Europe and the Middle East report instances of high-path avian flu, the risk of more wild birds in North Africa could rise.

Though access to the national park is temporarily suspended, the OIE said the outbreak does not change the avian flu status of the country. A 3-kilometer (km) protection zone and a 10-km surveillance zone have been put in place; there are no industrial poultry farms within the protection zone.

H5N8 in Finland, Austria
Also today the OIE said Finland has confirmed that nation's second incidence of H5N8, at a zoo in the southern tip of the Scandinavian nation.

The outbreak in a bird zoo occurred in a group of 150 galliform birds, or fowl. Nine birds died and another 28 were destroyed. The outbreak began on Nov 26, and birds housed in separate
buildings in the zoo are being monitored for signs of H5N8.

Finland reported its first H5N8 outbreak—in two dead tufted wild ducks—on Nov 25.

Austria reported more cases H5N8 in several waterfowl found dead in or near Lake Constance on Nov 7. Herring gulls, ducks, and buzzards were among the 17 birds found in Vorarlberg, a town on Lake Constance. Meanwhile Mattsee, a lake near Salzburg, reported an H5N8-related death of a duck on Nov 15 and Gmunden, a city on Lake Traunsee, reported H5N8 in a dead herring gull.

Austria reported its first H5N8 detection, also in migratory birds on Lake Constance, on Nov 11.

DEFRA warns 2 migration paths involved
Finally today, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) released its fourth assessment on the current H5N8 outbreak in Europe. Since its Nov 18 report, there have been four more European countries (Finland, France, Romania, and Sweden) that have reported H5N8.

Thirty-five outbreaks have occurred in domestic poultry, five in captive birds, one in captive wild birds, and more than 150 reports of death in wild birds. DEFRA suggests that the virus may be spreading through not one, but two, migration paths, one toward the Black Sea and another toward the East Atlantic.

"Outbreaks have been reported in Southern Russia, Iran and Israel in the last month and recently in Egypt and the Ukraine which adds credence to the involvement of the Black Sea / Mediterranean and the East Atlantic migration routes," the report stated.



 Tunisia reports H5 bird flu in wild birds: OIE [Reuters, Dec 1, 2016]

Tunisia has reported an outbreak of the highly contagious H5 bird flu virus among wild birds in the north of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday, citing information from the Tunisian agriculture ministry.

The outbreak was confirmed after testing of 30 wild birds found dead last month in the Ichkeul Natural Park, it said.

"Tunisia is located in the main migratory corridor for wild birds going to Africa from Europe during winter migration. Migration is ongoing and this viral strain must have been carried over by migrating birds," the OIE said.

Several countries in Europe and the Middle East have found cases of highly contagious bird flu in the past few weeks, while the outbreaks in Asia have led to large-scale culling of poultry in South Korea and Japan.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)



 Egypt reports outbreak of H5N8 bird flu in wild birds [AI Arabiya, Dec 1, 2016]

Reuters, Paris

Egypt reported an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus in two wild birds in the northern part of the country, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday, citing a report from the Egyptian farm ministry.

Two common coots were found dead in Damietta during routine epidemiological surveillance activity, the Egyptian authorities said in the report.

Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from Nov 26 till 30 2016



 H5N8 avian flu outbreak expands to Egypt [CIDRAP News, Nov 30, 2016]

Lisa Schnirring ,News Editor

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Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya) / Flickr cc

Egypt today reported its first highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza detection, making it the third country in the Middle East to report the new H5 clade, which has also spread to several European countries after it was first identified in Russian migratory birds in June.

Meanwhile, in new developments with H5N6—the highly pathogenic strain that has turned up in two more Asian countries for the first time—Japan reported a third suspected outbreak and South Korean health officials weighed in on the threat to humans.

Egypt finds H5N8 in waterfowl
In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Egypt's agriculture ministry said two common coots found dead in Damietta governorate on Nov 24 tested positive for H5N8.

So far the source of the virus hasn't been determined, and authorities have ordered enhanced surveillance in and around the zone where the birds were found.

Earlier this month, Israel reported an H5N8 outbreak at a large poultry farm, and about a week later Iran reported two H5N8 outbreaks in commercial layer farms.

H5N8 suspected in Ukrainian outbreak
The Ukraine government today reported a highly pathogenic H5 outbreak in backyard birds in a village in Kherson province, located in the southern part of the country on the Black Sea coast, according to another OIE report.

Clinical signs in the flock were noted on Nov 14, and the farmer notified veterinary authorities about an increase in village bird deaths 2 weeks later. Of 2,500 susceptible birds, the virus killed 410. Culling operations are under way.

Test results today on samples from dead birds revealed highly pathogenic H5, but so far tests have not revealed the N type, so for now, it's not clear if the Ukrainian outbreak is part of the wider European outbreaks, which so far have affected 13 countries in the region.

Elsewhere, German veterinary officials today said in a third OIE report that H5N8 struck another location in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state in the northern part of the country. The outbreak began on Nov 28, at a farm housing hens, geese, and ducks. The virus killed 124 of 329 susceptible birds, and the remaining ones were culled to stem the spread of the disease.
H5N6 developments in Japan, South Korea

Japan's government, meanwhile, reported a third suspected H5N6 outbreak, which would be the second from Niigata prefecture, located in the northwestern part of the country, according to a government statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. The new outbreak involves a farm housing 230,000 birds.

A few days ago animal health officials in Japan announced two outbreaks, one in Niigata and the other in Aomori prefecture, north of there. Yesterday they announced that samples were positive for a highly pathogenic H5 strain, but so far the N type hasn't been identified. Earlier this month H5N6 was confirmed in black swans and in environmental samples in Japan.

In South Korea, which has confirmed H5N6 in farms in at least three provinces, agriculture and health officials have weighed in on investigations and the potential threat to humans, according to notes posted from an agriculture avian flu committee meeting and a statement from the country's Center for Disease Control (CDC), translated and posted by AFD.

The avian flu committee, which met yesterday, said the virus was likely carried from China by migratory birds. South Korean scientists recently said the H5N6 virus appears to be a reassortant containing different internal genes than earlier strains isolated in China. The committee experts noted that the outbreaks in South Korea have been marked by rapid development of clinical symptoms in both ducks and chickens.

Meanwhile, South Korea's CDC said today that an early genetic analysis hasn't found any red flags about an increased risk to mammals, adding that the risk to humans is very low. Officials noted that animal experiments are under way to gauge the pathogenicity and potential risk to humans and that South Korea's CDC has established a human infection response team.

H5N6, a reassortant between H5N1 and H6N6, has been reported in birds in a handful of Asian countries since 2014, but so far human cases have been reported only in China, where the virus has so far sickened 16 people, 10 of them fatally.



 S. Korea confirms more cases of deadly bird flu [Phys.Org, Nov 30, 2016]


South Korea Wednesday revealed new cases of a deadly strain of bird flu as authorities said they had slaughtered two million chickens and ducks in a bid to control the outbreak.

The H5N6 virus was first confirmed on November 18 at a farm in central South Korea and it has since spread to farms around the country, with the total number of cases now standing at 46.

Authorities have stepped up quarantine measures, culling birds and restricting animal movements which are feared to spread the virus.

"We've culled some two million birds and we will slaughter another one million", an agricultural ministry spokesman told AFP.

Health authorities stressed there had been no cases of human infections from H5N6 in South Korea.

However, between 2014 and April 2016, H5N6 killed six people in China, according to the South's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this year that the strain "has caused severe infection in humans" but added "until now human infections with the virus seem to be sporadic with no ongoing human to human transmission".



 Egypt reports outbreak of H5N8 bird flu in wild birds: OIE [Reuters, Nov 30, 2016]

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Highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus was found in two wild birds in the northern part of Egypt. (File photo: AP)

Egypt reported an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus in two wild birds in the northern part of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday, citing a report from the Egyptian farm ministry.

Two common coots were found dead in Damietta during routine epidemiological surveillance activity, the Egyptian authorities said in the report.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Gus Trompiz)



 Bird flu found at small poultry farm in Germany [Reuters, Nov 30, 2016]

A case of high risk H5N8 bird flu has been found on a small farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in east Germany, state authorities said on Wednesday.

The farm has about 300 chickens, ducks and geese, said the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state agriculture ministry.

H5N8 bird flu has been found in over 370 wild birds in Germany since the present outbreak started in early November. Three large farms have also suffered outbreaks along with a series of small farms, hobby poultry owners and zoos.

The country's government has imposed tougher sanitary rules for farms and warned it may order all poultry to be kept inside.

Several European countries and Israel have found cases of H5N8 bird flu in the past few weeks and some have ordered that poultry be kept indoors to avoid the disease spreading.

Most outbreaks involved wild birds but Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary and Austria also reported cases in duck and turkey farms where poultry had to be culled.

The first case in wild birds in France was discovered this week.



 H5N8 Avian Influenza in India [The Disease Daily, Nov 30, 2016]

by Malav Patel and Emily Cohn

Just one month after being declared free from the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza, India reported several outbreaks of a different strain, H5N8 [1]. The National Delhi Zoological Park in New Delhi reported deaths of nine water birds, including painted storks, ducks and pelicans, which were believed to have migrated locally [2]. In another instance, the H5N8 strain was confirmed in several ducks that died at the Blue Bird Tourist Complex in Hisar, Haryana [3, 5]. Apart from the outbreaks reported in northern states of India, H5N8 outbreaks were also reported in two separate farms in Kerala, a southernmost state in India. 115 birds died on these two farms between 19th October 2016 and 23rd October 2016 [3]. According to the Indian officials, the outbreaks were caused by the same strain, H5N8, found in Punjab, Gwalior and Kerala.

To date, no human cases or deaths from H5N8 strain of avian influenza have been detected, and the World Health Organization concludes that the risk of human infection is low [2,6].

Control Measures:

The officials have temporarily shut down the zoo in New Delhi, India. In Kerala, around 21,000 birds were destroyed to contain the spread of the infection to domestic poultry and to human handlers [1]. The control measures applied in the radius of one kilometer around the outbreak locations and included culling an entire poultry population and destroying all poultry products, including eggs, feed, and litter.

Further control measures included restriction on movement of poultry and poultry products, disinfections and cleaning up of infected premises, and quarantine [2,3]. To be prepared for an outbreak in humans, Government of India has stocked up sufficient amount of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) and has ensured adequate availability of flu masks [2]. The Department of Animal Husbandry has set up biosafety laboratories [2].

Reference:
[1] Government of India. India Declares itself Free from Avian Influenza (H5N1). [Updated: September 14, 2016]. Available from: ☞ [1]  

[2] The Indian Express. Avian Influenza: Bird disease that can be deadly but you won’t get it by eating chicken. [Updated: October 24, 2016] Available from: ☞ [2]  

[3] CIDRAP. Three nations report avian flu in wild birds, poultry. [Updated: November 4, 2016] Available from: ☞ [3]  

[4] OIE. Immediate notification report,6 Report reference: REF OIE 21439, Report Date: 04/11/2016, Country : India [Updated: November 4, 2016]. Available from: ☞ [4]  

[5] OIE. Immediate notification report, Report reference: REF OIE 21461, Report Date: 08/11/2016, Country : India [Updated: November 8, 2016]. Available from: ☞ [5]  

[6] ☞ [6]  



 Ukraine reports outbreak of H5 bird flu in backyard birds: OIE [Reuters, Nov 30, 2016]

Ukraine reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus among backyard birds in the southern part of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday, citing a report from the Ukrainian government.

After veterinary services were informed of an increase in mortality among birds in the village of Novooleksandrivka near the Black Sea, samples were taken from the dead birds and showed a positive result for highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza, the Ukrainian authorities said.

It was not clear whether it was the H5N8 virus which has been found among wild birds and farms across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.



 Another outbreak of bird flu suspected in Niigata Prefecture [Japan Today, Nov 30, 2016]

NIIGATA —
Another outbreak of bird flu is suspected to have been discovered at a Niigata Prefecture farm, the local government said Wednesday, following the recent discovery of avian flu in a separate area in the prefecture.
In the latest case, some 100 chickens died between Tuesday and Wednesday morning at a farm in Joetsu on the Sea of Japan coast, and six of those birds tested positive after preliminary analysis, it said.
The prefectural government is also in the process of culling approximately 310,000 chickens at a poultry farm in Sekikawa after announcing Tuesday that tests have confirmed the presence of the highly virulent H5 strain of virus.

The move signals that Japan may see a spread in the avian influenza, which has also affected ducks on a farm in Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan. Some 18,000 ducks there have already been culled.

Farm minister Yuji Yamamoto called for further steps to prevent the bird flu from spreading, saying in a government meeting Wednesday that “the initial response is important.”

The Niigata prefectural government said further tests have been carried out to check whether the chickens on the farm in Joetsu were infected by the highly pathogenic bird flu virus. Some 230,000 chickens are kept on the farm at any one time.

These are the first cases of infection with the virus in domestic poultry since January 2015 when it was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.



 Another bird flu outbreak suspected in Japan's Niigata Prefecture [Nikkei Asia Review, Nov 30, 2016]

NIIGATA (Kyodo) -- An outbreak of bird flu is suspected in a coastal area of Niigata Prefecture, the local government said Wednesday, following the recent discovery of highly pathogenic avian flu in an inland area.

The announcement came as the country is trying to stem the spread of avian influenza, which has also affected ducks on a farm in Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan.

In the latest case in Niigata Prefecture, around 100 chickens died between Tuesday and
Wednesday morning at a farm in Joetsu on the Sea of Japan coast, and six of those birds tested positive after preliminary analysis.

The prefectural government said it will begin culling all the 230,000 chickens kept on the farm Thursday without waiting for the outcome of further tests, based on the request of the farm ministry.

The Niigata government is also in the process of culling approximately 310,000 chickens at a poultry farm in Sekikawa -- about 140 kilometers from Joetsu -- after announcing Tuesday that tests had confirmed the presence of the highly virulent H5 strain of the bird flu virus.

In Aomori, around 18,000 ducks have been culled at a farm where ducks tested positive for the H5 bird flu strain and prefectural officials and construction company workers are burying them.

These are the first cases of infection in domestic poultry since January 2015, when bird flu was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.

Farm minister Yuji Yamamoto called for further steps to prevent bird flu from spreading, saying in a government meeting Wednesday that "the initial response is important."



 There is no suspicion of avian flu among the population of birds on the territory of Romania [Actmedia, Nov 29, 2016]

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Romania does not record any suspicion of avian flu in the population of domestic and wild birds, although several days ago there was found a dead swan and the laboratory analyses confirmed the presence of the virus, the sub-type H5N8 announced on Monday the National Authority for Veterinary Health and Food Safety (ANSVSA).

A dead wild swan found in southeastern Romania earlier this month was found to be infected with H5N8 bird flu that has hit several countries in Europe, ANSVSA said on Monday.

Officials have imposed two areas of veterinary sanitary restrictions around the area, a 3-km protection area and a 10-km monitoring area, neither of which include commercial poultry farms.

Romania has also tightened controls of shipments of live birds and eggs from EU countries where recent bird flu outbreaks have been discovered.

"So far, based on our information, with the exception of the mentioned case, there is no suspicion that bird flu has appeared in domestic or wild birds on Romanian territory," ANSVSA said in a statement.

Taking into consideration the national and international situation under the aspect of the evolution of avian flu with the sub-type H5N8 ANSVSA imposed several measures, on the territory of Romania with the purpose to avoid the introduction of this virus in the population of domestic birds. Thus, the monitorisation of the health status among domestic birds and wild birds on the territory of Romania and under any suspicion will be notified as emergency to the DSVSA in the counties and the ANSVSA.

At the same time, there were called collaboration protocols with a series of institutions involved in the observation, supervision and monitorisation of the wild birds, ornithological societies respectively, the Danube Delta Biosphere association, hunting associations, and special attention and strengthening of the checking of intracommunity transports with live birds coming from the countries where avian flu points have been recorded lately.

According to the ANSVSA data, fairs, markets and animal exhibitions were forbidden as the official supervision of the population of wild birds, especially water birds and supplementary supervision of the dead and sick birds.

At the same time, the vets required cooperation with hunters and ornithologists to report to the authorities in case they identify dead birds.



 H5N8 Avian Influenza Hits Northern Europe [ContagionLive, Nov 29, 2016]

Following a recent outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu in South Korea, officials in northern European countries and Russia have reported cases of H5N8 bird flu, sparking fears of an epidemic spreading across Europe.

While the H5N8 bird flu virus has been circulating in Europe over the last two years, the recent outbreak began in early November when food safety officials detected the virus at a poultry farm in Hungary, prompting the culling of 9,000 turkeys.

Soon after, Austrian health authorities reported the discovery of H5N8 in five dead wild ducks near the country’s border with Germany and Switzerland and instructed farmers to protect their birds by bringing them indoors.

Since then, the virus has been found circulating in commercial and migratory birds in several countries. In response, officials in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France have ordered poultry farmers to take preventive measures to avoid the transmission and spread of the disease in their flocks, including sheltering bird flocks indoors and monitoring bird health.

However, despite efforts to protect poultry farms from the risk of exposure through infected wild migratory birds, the particularly severe form of bird flu spread to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Croatia, Sweden, and Finland. In addition, health officials in Israel and Iran have also reported outbreaks of H5N8.

After enforcing stringent precautionary measures in France to protect the country’s foie gras farms, agriculture officials have reported the detection of H5N8 in 20 wild ducks in the country, prompting worries about the virus’ spread despite the fact that surveillance efforts have found no new cases in French commercial farms.

The country and its poultry producers are still reeling from a string of outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 earlier this year that impacted French chicken and duck farmers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while the current outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N8 have caused death and disease in birds, there is a low likelihood of humans becoming infected with the virus.

H5N8 viruses belong to clade 2.3.4.4 of the A/goose/Guangdong/1/1996 lineage, which was detected in 2014 and was found in parts of Europe, Russia, Asia, and North America in that same year. While past cases of H5N6 in humans occurred in China, such infections of bird flu in humans are rare; surveillance of countries that have been affected by the current H5N8 outbreak have yet to report any human cases. In a recent report, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) emphasizes there have been no human infections with H5N8 and the risk of zoonotic transmission from birds to humans is low.

Still, the spread of the avian virus poses a health risk to humans and the possibility of a pandemic.

The ECDC recommends that anyone that has been exposed to H5N8 be monitored for 10 days following exposure for any signs of infection, such as conjunctivitis, fever, or any influenza-like symptoms.

Those most at risk include farmers, veterinarians, and other animal workers who come in direct contact with diseased birds or their carcasses. During the current outbreak, WHO officials note that while risk of exposure and illness to the public at large is very low, they remind people to take the following precautions to avoid acquiring the bird flu:
• Avoid contact with any birds (poultry or wild birds) or other animals that are sick or are found dead and report them to the relevant authorities.
• Wash hands properly with soap or a suitable disinfectant.
• Follow good food safety and food hygiene practices.



 Deadly bird flu on Britain’s doorstep as cases discovered in CALAIS [Daily Express, Nov 29, 2016]

A POTENTIALLY deadly bird flu is just a birdflight away from arriving in Britain after the bug was detected in Calais.

By ROMINA MCGUINNESS IN PARIS

Calais-bird-flu-Britain-737857.jpg
A potentially deadly flu may enter Britain after being detected in Calais

The French agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll said that a severe strain of H5N8 bird flu had been detected among a group of 20 wild ducks in northern France.

The sick duck had the same strain of bird flu that has hit several European countries, and which has led to the culling of thousands of poultry.

The discovery is France’s first case of H5N8 – but bizarrely it has been found just 30 miles away from Britain, an easy distance for a duck to fly.

The agriculture minister added that the wild ducks had been used as “callers for waterfowl hunting”, and had not been destined for human consumption.

Mr Le Foll said that local authorities had increased surveillance in the area, before adding that the infected wild ducks had been culled, along with another group of ducks that the animals had been in contact with located in the affected area.

The agriculture minister added that the outbreak had “not affected domestic farms,” and that France should regain its international status of free of highly pathogenic avian flu by Saturday December 3, provided no new case was found in the coming days.


France, however, is still struggling to recover from a severe bird flu epidemic in southwestern France that occurred at the end of 2015.

The outbreak led to a total halting of duck and geese production in the region and to import restrictions for trading partners.

Foie gras producers, who already suffered a considerable revenue drop following last year’s outbreak, are particularly concerned, and fear that they may suffer yet more losses.

Stephane-Le-Foll-738155.jpg
Stephane Le Foll said that a severe strain of H5N8 bird flu had been detected

The news comes just weeks before the Christmas season, which coincides with the year-end peak demand for the delicacy, which is made from the fatty liver of either duck or goose.

Cases of the H5N6 avian influenza virus have been confirmed in several EU countries, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany, and Mr Foll had warned farmers that France could be next earlier this month.

The agriculture minister imposed precautionary measures at farms and restricted hunting and bird gathering: he asked all poultry farmers located in humid regions – where the risk of transmission is considered high – to keep poultry flocks indoors or to apply safety nets to prevent contact with wild birds.

The WHO says they have no recorded cases of the H5N8 strain of bird flu being passed to humans yet – but a very close strain called H5N6 has crossed into humans.

The better-known killer strain of bird-flu is called H5N1. This strain has killed 400 people across the globe – 60% of those contracting the bug.

The effects of H5N8 on humans are unknown.



 Authorities cull 330,000 chickens, ducks amid bird flu outbreak in Niigata, Aomori [The Japan Times, Nov 29, 2016]


AOMORI/NIIGATA – A highly contagious avian flu outbreak has been confirmed at poultry farms in Niigata and Aomori prefectures, forcing local governments to cull a total of about 330,000 chickens and ducks on Tuesday.

The cases are the first of a highly pathogenic H5 strain of the virus in domestic poultry since January 2015 when it was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.

South Korea experienced an outbreak of bird flu earlier this month, possibly transmitted by migratory birds. Experts warned that the outbreak could spread nationwide as infected wild birds have been found in many parts of the country.

Tests have confirmed the presence of the H5 strain at the poultry farm in the village of Sekikawa, Niigata Prefecture, while H5-strain samples obtained in Aomori will be analyzed at a laboratory in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

A local official found about 40 dead chickens at the Niigata farm Monday. Five of the birds tested positive. The Niigata Prefectural Government began culling the estimated 310,000 chickens at the farm.

In Aomori, where 10 ducks were found dead Monday, the prefectural government is culling about 16,500 birds at a farm where ducks tested positive for the H5 bird flu strain in preliminary testing.

The samples will undergo further analysis as officials suspect the virus is likely to be highly pathogenic.

Both the Niigata and Aomori prefectural governments have restricted the movement of poultry and eggs in an area within 3 km of the farms in question. The Niigata government requested the deployment of Self-Defense Force personnel to assist with the culling operation.

Farmers within 10 km of the farms were banned from transporting their birds and eggs out of the areas. There are about 60 farms with a total of some 500,000 birds within a 10-km radius of the farm in Niigata and seven farms accounting for more than 400,000 birds in the Aomori area, according to local authorities.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed government ministries and agencies Tuesday to coordinate closely and quickly put in place quarantine measures.

The relevant Cabinet ministers assembled for a meeting on the threat Tuesday morning. “The government will take every possible measure to prevent the infections from spreading,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “A number of cases have been confirmed in neighboring countries, particularly in wild birds, and there is a possibility that the infections could spread further.”

Abe has also instructed the government to gather information from the affected areas and keep the public informed, Suga added.

A chicken farming industry official said the outbreak in the two prefectures was unexpected. “Bird flu infections had been reported mainly in dry areas in the past and the virus was considered unlikely to run rampant in Niigata and Aomori prefectures.”

The official added that the infections are expected to peak after January and could spread widely in Japan.

Meanwhile, Koichi Otsuki, head of the Avian Influenza Research Center at Kyoto Sangyo University, urged people to stay away from dead sparrows or crows to prevent the disease from spreading to humans.

Although it is unlikely to be transmitted to humans, an Environment Ministry official warned people against approaching areas where wild birds live and asked people to report to local governments when they find dead birds, and not touch them.

Farmers in the northern prefectures were worried that it may spread further and damage the reputation of their produce.

At the farm in the city of Aomori, meanwhile, workers culled ducks by putting them inside containers filled with carbon dioxide, according to the prefectural government.

“We’ve never experienced (a bird flu outbreak in Aomori). I don’t know how long it will take,” a prefectural government official said.



 Highly Contagious Bird Flu Outbreak In Japan Prompts Officials To Kill 300,000 Chickens And Ducks [Huffington Post, Nov 29, 2016]

This is the country’s first bird flu outbreak in nearly two years.

583dd8e71700002500e7cd75.jpg
KYODO KYODO / REUTERS
Workers wearing protective suits cull ducks after some tested positive for H5 bird flu at a poultry farm in Aomori, northern Japan. November 29, 2016.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan has started culling more than 300,000 chickens and ducks after the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on farms in the north of the country, local officials said.

The bird flu outbreaks are the first in nearly two years in Japan and news of the cullings boosted shares in some infection-control product makers.

In Niigata prefecture north of Tokyo, authorities on Tuesday started culling about 310,000 chickens at a farm in the village of Sekikawa after 40 birds were found dead from H5 bird flu, a prefectural official told Reuters by telephone. The cull will continue until Dec. 2, the official said.

Further north in the prefecture of Aomori, about 16,500 ducks were being culled in the city of the same name after some tested positive for bird flu, according to a statement on the prefecture’s website.

This is the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in Aomori prefecture, it said. The agriculture ministry said the outbreaks are the first for nearly two years in poultry farms in Japan.

Taiko Pharmaceutical Co, which makes infection-control products, surged 3.2 percent, and mask maker Daiwabo Holdings, jumped 5.1 percent.

Protective clothing maker Azearth Corp, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s second section, soared 17 percent to its daily limit of 681 yen.

Meanwhile, grilled-chicken restaurant operator Torikizoku Co dropped 2.8 percent.

“The news about bird flu is affecting these shares, but these moves tend to be short-lived,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management.

South Korea last Friday announced a temporary nationwide standstill order for poultry farms and related transport over the weekend in a bid to contain a spread of H5N6 bird flu, a severe strain of the disease.

Another severe strain of bird flu, H5N8, has hit several countries in Europe and led to the culling of thousands of poultry after being detected in wild ducks in Northern France.

In recent weeks there have also been outbreaks in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania and Germany. Dutch authorities destroyed about 190,000 ducks on Saturday at six farms following an avian flu outbreak.

Farmers located in humid regions, where the risk of transmission is higher, are advised by health authorities to keep poultry flocks indoors or apply safety nets preventing contact with wild birds.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans but it led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia, mainly South Korea, in 2014 before spreading to Europe.

The World Organization for Animal Health had warned in an interview with Reuters mid-November that more outbreaks of H5N8 were likely in Europe as wild birds believed to transmit the virus migrate southward.

(Writing by Aaron Sheldrick Editing by Michael Perry)



 Japan begins culling over 300,000 chickens and ducks after contagious bird flu outbreak [ITV News, Nov 29, 2016]

stream_img.jpg
Workers in protective suits cull ducks after some tested positive for H5 bird flu at a poultry farm in Aomori, northern Japan. Credit: Kyodo/via Reuters

Japan has begun culling more than 300,000 chickens and ducks following the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on farms in the north of the country.

Officials began the cull at in a village in the Niigata prefecture, north of Tokyo on Tuesday, after 40 birds were found dead from H5 bird flu.

The cull is expected to continue until December 2, an official said.

Further north in the prefecture of Aomori, about 16,500 ducks were being culled after some tested positive for bird flu.

The bird flu outbreaks are the first in Japan in almost two years.

stream_imgccc.jpg
Bird flu outbreaks have erupted across Europe in recent weeks. Credit: PA Wire

It is also the first time highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in Aomori prefecture, officials said on the prefecture's website.

Last week, South Korea announced a temporary nationwide standstill order for poultry farms and related transport in an attempt to contain a spread of H5N6 bird flu, a severe strain of the disease.

Another severe strain of bird flu, H5N8, has hit several countries in Europe, and led to the culling of thousands of poultry after it was detected in wild ducks in northern France.

There have also been outbreaks in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania and Germany in recent weeks.

Dutch authorities destroyed about 190,000 ducks at six farms on Saturday following an avian flu outbreak.



 Over 300,000 chickens, ducks culled in Niigata, Aomori amid bird flu outbreak [The Japan Times Nov 29, 2016]

AOMORI/NIIGATA – A highly contagious avian flu outbreak has been confirmed at poultry farms in Niigata and Aomori prefectures, forcing local governments to cull more than 300,000 chickens and ducks on Tuesday.

The cases are the first of a highly pathogenic H5 strain of the virus in domestic poultry since January 2015 when it was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.

South Korea experienced an outbreak of bird flu earlier this month, possibly transmitted by migratory birds. Experts warned that the outbreak could spread nationwide as infected wild birds have been found in many parts of the country.

Tests have confirmed the presence of the H5 strain at the poultry farm in the village of Sekikawa, Niigata Prefecture, while H5-strain samples obtained in Aomori will be analyzed at a laboratory in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

A local official found about 40 dead chickens at the Niigata farm Monday. Five of the birds tested positive. The Niigata Prefectural Government began culling the estimated 310,000 chickens at the farm.

In Aomori, where 10 ducks were found dead Monday, the prefectural government is culling about 16,500 birds at a farm where ducks tested positive for the H5 bird flu strain in preliminary testing.

The samples will undergo further analysis as officials suspect the virus is likely to be highly pathogenic.

Both the Niigata and Aomori prefectural governments have restricted the movement of poultry and eggs in an area within 3 km of the farms in question. The Niigata government requested the deployment of Self-Defense Force personnel to assist with the culling operation.

Farmers within 10 km of the farms were banned from transporting their birds and eggs out of the areas. There are about 60 farms with a total of some 500,000 birds within a 10-km radius of the farm in Niigata and seven farms accounting for more than 400,000 birds in the Aomori area, according to local authorities.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed government ministries and agencies Tuesday to coordinate closely and quickly put in place quarantine measures.

The relevant Cabinet ministers assembled for a meeting on the threat Tuesday morning.

“The government will take every possible measure to prevent the infections from spreading,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “A number of cases have been confirmed in neighboring countries, particularly in wild birds, and there is a possibility that the infections could spread further.”

Abe has also instructed the government to gather information from the affected areas and keep the public informed, Suga added.

A chicken farming industry official said the outbreak in the two prefectures was unexpected.
“Bird flu infections had been reported mainly in dry areas in the past and the virus was considered unlikely to run rampant in Niigata and Aomori prefectures.”

The official added that the infections are expected to peak after January and could spread widely in Japan.

Meanwhile, Koichi Otsuki, head of the Avian Influenza Research Center at Kyoto Sangyo University, urged people to stay away from dead sparrows or crows to prevent the disease from spreading to humans.

Although it is unlikely to be transmitted to humans, an Environment Ministry official warned people against approaching areas where wild birds live and asked people to report to local governments when they find dead birds, and not touch them.

Farmers in the northern prefectures were worried that it may spread further and damage the reputation of their produce.

“I hope infection will not spread,” a person living in Sekikawa said as workers in white protective clothing bustled about.

At the farm in the city of Aomori, meanwhile, workers culled ducks by putting them inside containers filled with carbon dioxide, according to the prefectural government.

“We’ve never experienced (a bird flu outbreak in Aomori). I don’t know how long it will take,” a prefectural government official said.



 Highly-contagious bird flu found in Japan, culling start [Phys.Org Nov 29, 2016]

highlycontag.jpg
Health officials investigate a chicken farm in Sekikawa village, Niigata prefecture, northern Japan, after a highly contagious avian flu strain in poultry was detected, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Japanese health authorities confirmed Tuesday the highly virulent H5 strain was detected in poultry in two prefectures, Niigata and Aomori, with culling of hundreds of thousands of birds starting at the affected farms. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)

Japanese health authorities have confirmed a highly contagious avian flu strain in poultry in two prefectures in northern Japan, with culling of hundreds of thousands of birds starting Tuesday at the affected farms.

The government confirmed that the highly virulent H5 strain was detected in birds at a chicken farm in Niigata, where about 40 of them were found dead Monday. Dead ducks at a farm in another prefecture of Aomori also tested H5 positive.

Culling of about 310,000 birds began Tuesday at the Niigata farm and will continue through Friday. Workers in hazmat suits dug holes and dumped dead birds in them to contain the spread of virus. About 165,000 ducks in Aomori were also being culled.

Officials restricted the movements of poultry and eggs within 3 kilometers (5 miles) of the infected farms. About 60 chicken farms operate in the neighborhood of the affected farm in Niigata, where about half a million chickens are raised. The farm in Aomori and two other neighborhood operators are specializing in French duck known as "Barbarie."

Suspected bird flu cases have been found in wild birds in those areas since early November.
Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto told reporters that his ministry is sending experts to the areas for investigation, while raising the caution level to the highest level. The Agricultural Ministry has also dispatched an investigative team to both prefectures.

1-highlycontag.jpg
Health officials investigate a chicken farm in Sekikawa village, Niigata prefecture, northern Japan, after a highly contagious avian flu strain in poultry was detected, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Japanese health authorities confirmed Tuesday the highly virulent H5 strain was detected in poultry in two prefectures, Niigata and Aomori, with culling of hundreds of thousands of birds starting at the affected farms. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-highly-contagious-bird-flu-japan-culling.html#jCp



 Japan orders major poultry cull after first bird flu outbreak in nearly two years [Reuter, Nov 29, 2016]

By Ayai Tomisawa and Osamu Tsukimori

bbbbb.jpg


vvvv.jpg
Workers wearing protective suits cull ducks after some tested positive for H5 bird flu at a poultry farm in Aomori, northern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 29, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

Japan has started culling more than 300,000 chickens and ducks after the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on farms in the north of the country, local officials said.

The bird flu outbreaks are the first in nearly two years in Japan and news of the cullings boosted shares in some infection-control product makers.

In Niigata prefecture north of Tokyo, authorities on Tuesday started culling about 310,000 chickens at a farm in the village of Sekikawa after 40 birds were found dead from H5 bird flu, a prefectural official told Reuters by telephone. The cull will continue until Dec. 2, the official said.

Further north in the prefecture of Aomori, about 16,500 ducks were being culled in the city of the same name after some tested positive for bird flu, according to a statement on the prefecture's website.

This is the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in Aomori prefecture, it said. The agriculture ministry said the outbreaks are the first for nearly two years in poultry farms in Japan.

Taiko Pharmaceutical Co, which makes infection-control products, surged 3.2 percent, and mask maker Daiwabo Holdings, jumped 5.1 percent.

Protective clothing maker Azearth Corp, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's second section, soared 17 percent to its daily limit of 681 yen.

Meanwhile, grilled-chicken restaurant operator Torikizoku Co dropped 2.8 percent.

"The news about bird flu is affecting these shares, but these moves tend to be short-lived," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management.

South Korea last Friday announced a temporary nationwide standstill order for poultry farms and related transport over the weekend in a bid to contain a spread of H5N6 bird flu, a severe strain of the disease.

Another severe strain of bird flu, H5N8, has hit several countries in Europe and led to the culling of thousands of poultry after being detected in wild ducks in Northern France.

In recent weeks there have also been outbreaks in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania and Germany. Dutch authorities destroyed about 190,000 ducks on Saturday at six farms following an avian flu outbreak.

Farmers located in humid regions, where the risk of transmission is higher, are advised by health authorities to keep poultry flocks indoors or apply safety nets preventing contact with wild birds.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans but it led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia, mainly South Korea, in 2014 before spreading to Europe.

The World Organization for Animal Health had warned in an interview with Reuters mid-November that more outbreaks of H5N8 were likely in Europe as wild birds believed to transmit the virus migrate southward.

(Writing by Aaron Sheldrick Editing by Michael Perry)



 Bird flu outbreak spurs Aomori duck cull, claims chickens in Niigata [The Japan Times, Nov 29, 2016]

AOMORI/NIIGATA – Aomori Prefecture said Monday that ducks have been confirmed to be infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza on a farm in the city of Aomori.

The prefectural government started culling some 16,500 ducks raised at the farm in order to prevent the spread of bird flu infection.

This is the first time in about two years that a bird flu outbreak has been confirmed at poultry farms in the country.

Also on Monday, a suspected case of bird flu was reported at a poultry farm in Niigata Prefecture.

According to the Niigata Prefectural Government, some 20 chickens were found dead Monday morning at the poultry farm, which has some 310,000 chickens, in the northern part of the prefecture.

After a further 20 chickens were found dead in the afternoon, the poultry farm reported the case to the prefecture.

Simple checks on five chickens showed all of them tested positive for a bird flu virus.

The agriculture ministry believes the chickens are highly likely to be infected with bird flu. It will find out details through genetic tests.

In Aomori, 10 French ducks were found dead at the farm.

Simple checks conducted on five dead and five live ducks showed that nine of them tested positive for a bird flu virus. Genetic tests carried out later confirmed an outbreak.

At a task force meeting held Monday night before the outbreak was confirmed, the agriculture ministry confirmed it would set a no-go zone in a 3-km radius around the farm in question and ban transfers of chickens and eggs in areas between 3 and 10 km.

The ministry will send a team of experts to the two prefectures on Tuesday in order to investigate infection routes.

The Japanese government set up a liaison office at the crisis control center of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed officials to take measures aimed at preventing the spread of bird flu.



 What Is Bird Flu? Avian Influenza Outbreaks In Europe Hit France, Netherlands, Finland [International Business Times, Nov 28, 2016]

BY JULIANA ROSE PIGNATARO

Countries across Europe are taking precautions to prevent a bird flu epidemic after highly infectious cases of the disease have appeared in multiple areas. Officials in Finland found cases of avian influenza in wild birds on the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea Thursday. On Saturday, authorities in the Netherlands killed 190,000 ducks after the virus struck. Wild ducks in Northern France were slaughtered in an effort to contain a highly infectious strain of the flu Monday.

"A first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 was confirmed on Nov. 26 in a commune of Marck, Pas-de-Calais, on 20 wild ducks used as callers for waterfowl hunting," France's farm ministry said in a statement Monday.

France has the largest poultry stock in the European Union. An outbreak of bird flu in southeastern France earlier this year decimated poultry flocks and stopped much of the country's output.

Highly pathogenic strains of bird flu, though rarer, are greater cause for concern than low pathogenic strains. They are often fatal for birds, spread more easily and rapidly and have a higher rate of mortality upon infection. In 2015, a highly pathogenic outbreak swept 21 states in the U.S. and affected more than 50 million birds, driving the price of eggs up by 80 percent. The disease was last detected in the U.S. in June 2015.

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A health officer puts culled, bird flu-infected poultry in a plastic bag at a wholesale market in Hong Kong, Jun. 7, 2016. Highly pathogenic strains of the flu have now been found in France, the Netherlands and Finaldn. Photo: Reuters

The effect of avian flu on poultry populations and the economy aren't the only dangers of such an epidemic. Though it is rare, the disease can be transmitted to humans from an infected bird, causing symptoms ranging from low-grade fever to pneumonia or an altered mental state and seizures. Transmission from person to person is even rarer. The mortality rate for a human with bird flu is 60 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

"Because of the possibility that avian influenza A viruses could change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring for human infection and person to person transmission is extremely important for public health," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement about the virus on its website.





 H5N6 hits more Korean farms as study hints at reassortment [CIDRAP News, Nov 28, 2016]

Lisa Schnirring, News Editor

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South Korea has reported 12 more highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza outbreaks, and an initial analysis from the country's agriculture ministry suggests that the outbreak strain is a new reassortant, making it different from the strain detected in China and Hong Kong.

Korean outbreaks span 3 provinces
Most of the new detections in South Korea were reported at duck farms, though one was reported from among egg-laying hens. One of the outbreaks struck a farm in the newly affected Gyeonggi province, with the others occurring in the previously affected North Chungcheong and South Jeolla provinces, according to a Nov 24 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Among the 12 new outbreaks, the virus killed 4,020 of 137,600 susceptible birds, and authorities destroyed the remaining ones to control the spread of the virus.

South Korea's agriculture ministry recently ordered a 48-hour nationwide restriction on poultry transport, which was in effect over the weekend, according to a Nov 24 report from Reuters.

At a media briefing, Kim Yong-Sang, a senior veterinary minister, said officials believe migratory birds spread the virus, but they are also investigating if H5N6 has spread between farms, Reuters said.

In a potentially related development, Japan's agriculture ministry said today that it is investigating avian flu outbreaks at two farms, one in Aomori prefecture in the northeastern part of the country and the other in Niigata prefecture, located south of there on Japan's northwest coast, according to a government report translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

Rapid tests were positive for avian influenza and genetic tests are under way to identify the subtype, according to the report. If the findings are positive for H5N6, it would be a first in Japanese poultry. Earlier this month the virus was detected in black swans and from environmental samples.

Gene analysis suggests reassortant
South Korea's agriculture ministry today released an early analysis of the H5N6 virus, based on four recently obtained samples from locations in the country, according to an official report translated and posted by AFD.

When scientists compared the new isolates to samples from China and Hong Kong, they found that the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes were nearly identical to earlier samples, but some of the internal genes have changed, probably through reassortment, with the PA gene a 92% match to the previous ones.

Two isolates appear to have acquired resistance to the older antiviral amantadine, a signal that wasn't seen in 2014 H5N6 samples.

The report said it's unclear how and if the changes might affect the behavior of the virus, but tests are under way to gauge its possible pathogenicity in humans. Though other Asian countries have reported H5N6 in birds, China is the only nation to report infections in humans and has recorded 16 so far, 10 of them fatal.

The virus, first detected in a Chinese poultry market in 2014, is a novel reassortant between H5N1 and H6N6.

Avian flu in Ghana, South Africa
Meanwhile, Ghana's veterinary officials on Nov 23 confirmed two more H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in poultry, both affecting backyard birds in the same area of Greater Accra state in the southern part of the country, according to a report to the OIE.

Both began in October, affecting layers. Of 1,550 susceptible birds at the two locations, the virus killed 812. Health officials culled the remaining birds as a control measure. Ghana and a handful of other African nations have reported several H5N1 outbreaks in 2015 and 2016 after a several year hiatus.

South African animal officials on Nov 25 reported to the OIE two more low-pathogenic H5N2 outbreaks at commercial ostrich farms. The outbreaks occurred in October, sickening 1,997 of 3,438 susceptible birds. The strain has cropped up in several of the country's ostrich farms several times. The industry has also been hit several times by low-pathogenic H7N7 avian flu.



 Romania confirms H5N8 bird flu in dead swan [Reuter, Nov 28, 2016]

A dead wild swan found in southeastern Romania earlier this month was found to be infected with H5N8 bird flu that has hit several countries in Europe, the country's veterinary and food safety agency (ANSVSA) said on Monday.

Officials have imposed two areas of veterinary sanitary restrictions around the area, a 3-km protection area and a 10-km monitoring area, neither of which include commercial poultry farms.

Romania has also tightened controls of shipments of live birds and eggs from EU countries where recent bird flu outbreaks have been discovered.

"So far, based on our information, with the exception of the mentioned case, there is no suspicion that bird flu has appeared in domestic or wild birds on Romanian territory," ANSVSA said in a statement.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)



 The Netherlands Kills 190,000 Ducks to Prevent the Spread of Bird Flu [Seeker, Nov 28, 2016]

Six farms targeted after the virus is found in a village outside of Amsterdam.

Authorities in the Netherlands have culled some 190,000 ducks to prevent the spread of bird flu.

According to BBC News, ducks from six farms were killed, after the virus (the strain of which has not been named) was found in ducks in a village near Amsterdam. Health officials have initiated a ban on the transport of poultry within a six-mile radius of the village.

Bird flu is a viral infection that can spread among poultry. Several strains have emerged, including H5N1, which has spread across the globe and is deadly to humans at a 60% rate. People can catch it from contact with infected birds or their droppings.

New Type of Bird Flu Found in Antarctic Penguins

As the Netherlands moves to try to control avian flu, other nations are doing similarly.

Last week South Korean agriculture officials instituted a 48-hour halt to all movement of poultry in order to contain the H5N6 strain. The nation has slaughtered more than 700,000 birds as part of the effort. France, meanwhile, has found the H5N8 strain in wild ducks.

While the Dutch strain is not known, the H5N8 strain has been reported recently in parts of Northern Europe, BBC noted.



 190,000 Birds Euthanized in the Netherlands to Avoid Bird Flu Outbreak [Nature World News, Nov 28, 2016]

by Prathers

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Migratory birds may be the primary cause of the bird flu outbreak. (Photo : Getty Images)

Several countries are fearing another possible pandemic as the H5N8 virus, also known as the bird flu, is spreading across the world like wildfire. Netherlands has reportedly euthanized more than 190,000 ducks in the country in hopes of containing the virus and preventing any possibility of an outbreak.

The particular virus strain has been reported in Asia in early 2014 but has taken two years to spread in Europe and the U.S. A report from New Scientist indicated that there has been an increase in the population of birds in Europe which suffer from the disease. Hundreds of thousands of birds are being killed to prevent a possible outbreak.

The population of birds with the disease has started to move from east to west since 2014.

According to BBC, the long distance migration of wild birds throughout the globe has increased the speed of the spread of the virus. It is suspected that the disease has reached domesticated birds through the contamination from droppings from migrating wild birds.

Just last Thursday, South Korea has issued a nationwide warning to help contain the possible spread of the bird flu virus throughout the country. The entire country was alarmed when the cases of avian flu have dramatically increased in a matter of days. According to a report from Reuters, about 730,000 birds have been killed in South Korea alone to prevent the possible spread of the disease to humans.

So far, there had been no recorded cases of humans infected with the virus, and there are no indications yet that there is a possibility that this particular virus strain can harm people.

However, the World Health Organization has not taken this lightly and still warned that human infection has a likelihood of occurring.



 France finds H5N8 bird flu in wild ducks [Reuters, Nov 28, 2016]

A severe strain of H5N8 bird flu that has hit several countries in Europe leading to the culling of thousands of poultry was detected in wild ducks in Northern France, the farm ministry said on Monday.

"A first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 was confirmed on Nov. 26 in the commune of Marck (Pas-de-Calais), on 20 wild ducks used as callers for waterfowl hunting," it said in a statement.

Local authorities increased surveillance in the area, the ministry said.

It said that the latest outbreak did not affect domestic farms and that provided no new case was found it should regain its international status of free of highly pathogenic avian flu on Dec. 3.

France, which has the largest poultry flock in the EU, is still recovering from a severe bird flu epidemic in southwestern France earlier this year which lead to a total halting of duck and geese output in the region and import restrictions from trading partners.

Outbreaks in neighboring countries including the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany had prompted the ministry to impose additional precautions at farms and restricted hunting and bird gathering earlier this month.

It requested that poultry farmers located in humid regions, where the risk of transmission is higher, keep poultry flocks indoors or apply safety nets preventing contact with wild birds.

Wild birds can carry the virus without showing symptoms of it and transmit it to poultry through their feathers or faeces.

Dutch authorities destroyed some 190,000 ducks on Saturday at six farms following an avian flu outbreak.

Foie gras producers, already reeling from lost sales, expressed concern this month about the European outbreaks which come just before the year-end peak demand for the delicacy.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans but it led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia, mainly South Korea, in 2014 before spreading to Europe.

The World Organisation for Animal Health had warned in an interview with Reuters mid-
November that more outbreaks of H5N8 were likely in Europe as wild birds believed to transmit the virus migrate southward.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Mathieu Rosemain and Louise Heavens)



 Avian flu outbreaks continue in Europe and Asia [West Central tribune, Nov 27, 2016]

By Reuters Media

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South Korean health officials bury chickens at a poultry farm where the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus broke out in Haenam, South Korea, November 17, 2016. Picture taken on November 17, 2016. Yonhap/via REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The highly pathogenic H5N8 virus, known as avian flu, has been reported in recent days in outbreaks on a poultry farm in the Netherlands, in wild birds in Finland and among village birds in a southwestern state of India.

Some 190,000 ducks were destroyed on Saturday at six farms in the Netherlands following an avian flu outbreak, the country's first cull of an epidemic sweeping northern Europe.

Outbreaks of avian flu, primarily the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain, have been reported in
Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden over the past week.

Dutch authorities did not say what strain of the virus had been discovered at a poultry farm in the village Biddinghuizen, some 70 km (43 miles) east of Amsterdam.

The cull was implemented at four other sites owned by the same company and at a sixth farm less than a kilometer from the site of the confirmed outbreak.

Officials said they were checking for bird flu at farms within three kilometers of the original site and imposed a ban on transporting poultry products within a 10-km (six-mile) radius.

The world's second-largest agricultural exporter, the Netherlands has more than 100 million hens, pigs, cows and sheep on high-intensity farms. The density makes the animals more vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

Since 1997, 40 million hens, cows, goats, pigs and sheep have been slaughtered to contain outbreaks including swine flu, foot-and-mouth and "mad cow" disease.

The first confirmed case of H5N8 bird flu has been detected in Finland amid a recent outbreak of the disease in Europe, the Finnish Food Safety authority said on Friday.

The highly pathogenic H5N8 virus was found in wild birds in the Aland islands in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden, the office said in a statement.

The government on Friday ordered poultry farmers to keep flocks indoors to avoid the disease spreading.

India has reported an outbreak of the bird flu virus in the southwestern state of Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health said on Friday, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

The H5N8 virus was confirmed among birds in the village of Itagi, and all 1,593 of the birds at risk from the disease died or were culled, according to the report posted by the Paris-based OIE.

No details were given on the type of birds or location involved.

The H5N8 bird flu strain has been found in several countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia in recent weeks, leading some states to order poultry flocks to be kept indoors.



 Bird flu: Netherlands culls 190,000 ducks [BBC News, Nov 27, 2016]


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Poultry farmers have been advised to take measures to prevent the disease spreading

About 190,000 ducks have been culled in the Netherlands as the authorities try to prevent the spread of bird flu across northern European countries.

The slaughter involved six farms, following the discovery of a virus in the village of Biddinghuizen, some 70km (43 miles) east of Amsterdam.

Outbreaks of the highly contagious H5N8 strain have been reported in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Finland.

The Dutch authorities have not said which strain is involved.

Officials said they were checking for bird flu at farms within three kilometres of the original site and imposed a ban on transporting poultry products within a 10km (six mile) radius.

What is bird flu?

Avian influenza - bird flu - is an infectious disease of poultry and wild birds.
The H5N8 strain first appeared in South Korea in early 2014.

The virus later spread to Japan, North America and Europe, causing outbreaks at poultry farms between autumn 2014 and spring 2015.

How is it spread?

Last month, scientists said that monitoring birds on their long distance migrations could provide early warning of bird flu outbreaks.

Researchers said bird flu was carried by migrating birds from Asia to Europe and North America via the Arctic.

Contact with infected wild birds or materials contaminated with their droppings was the most likely route of transmission.

Should we worry?

Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans.

However, hundreds have been killed by the H5N1 virus, mostly as a result of direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry.

There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.
So far, no human cases of H5N8 infection have been detected.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that human infection with the H5N8 virus cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low, based on the "limited information" at its disposal.

How should we do?

The WHO advises:
• Avoid contact with poultry, wild birds or other animals that are sick or are found dead and report them to the relevant authorities.
• Wash hands properly with soap or a suitable disinfectant.
• Follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.



 190,000 ducks destroyed at six Dutch farms after bird flu outbreak [The Guardian, Nov 26, 2016]


Officials check for avian flu at farms surrounding original site as outbreaks of disease reported in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden

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Ducks on a farm in France. Ducks were culled at six farms in the Netherlands following reports of bird flu. Photograph: Iroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty Images

Some 190,000 ducks were destroyed on Saturday at six farms in the Netherlands following an avian flu outbreak, the country’s first cull in response to an epidemic sweeping northern Europe.

Outbreaks of avian flu, primarily the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain, have been reported in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden over the past week.

Dutch authorities did not say what strain of the virus had been discovered at a poultry farm in the village of Biddinghuizen, 70km (43 miles) east of Amsterdam.

The cull was implemented at four other sites owned by the same company and at a sixth farm less than a kilometre from the site of the confirmed outbreak.

Officials said they were checking for bird flu at farms within three kilometres of the original site and imposed a ban on transporting poultry products within a 10km radius.

The world’s second largest agricultural exporter, the Netherlands has more than 100 million hens, pigs, cows and sheep on high-intensity farms. The density makes the animals more vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

Since 1997, 40 million hens, cows, goats, pigs and sheep have been slaughtered to contain outbreaks including swine flu, foot-and-mouth disease and BSE.



 Sweden slaughters 200,000 hens on bird flu fears [Bangkok Post, Nov 26, 2016]

STOCKHOLM: Swedish authorities say 200,000 chickens are being slaughtered at a farm where bird flu has been detected, following a resurgence in the virus across Europe.

Traces of the H5N8 virus were found on Thursday at the Aniagra farm in Morarp in southwestern Sweden. The discovery came after bird flu was detected among ducks at a tiny farm in neighbouring Denmark, in the Copenhagen region.

"All of the farm's 200,000 hens will be put down to prevent the expansion of the virus,"

Sweden's agriculture department said in a statement on Friday, adding that 37,000 of the birds had already been slaughtered on Thursday.

Government scientist Karin Ahl said the operation would "take time as this is a large farm, above all if one thinks of the crucial disinfection that needs to be done at all of the sites".

Aniagra chief Anders Lindberg told the local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad: "It's a heavy blow of course, but for the moment what's important is that we do not allow the virus to spread further."

The agriculture department stressed that there is no danger of eating eggs from the farm -- or Swedish poultry products in general -- as the H5N8 virus has never been transmitted from birds to humans.

The H5N8 virus has been detected in poultry and wild birds in 10 European countries, according to the World Health Organization: Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and Russia.

Last week the Netherlands shuttered petting zoos and banned duck hunting as it stepped up measures to stem its bird flu outbreak, blamed for killing scores of poultry and more than a thousand wild birds.

Ebola outbreak News



 Study Suggests Ebola Outbreak Was More Widespread [The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2016]

By BETSY MCKAY

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ATLANTA—More than two years after the explosive Ebola epidemic in West Africa, researchers have identified a number of people who were infected with the deadly virus but didn’t report being sick, suggesting the outbreak may have been more widespread than currently believed.

Twelve of 48 people who were infected with Ebola in a village in eastern Sierra Leone reported that they had experienced no symptoms of the disease, though blood tests found antibodies indicating infection, according to the researchers from Stanford University, the Boston-based charity Partners in Health, and other institutions.

The tests found that as many as 25% of those infected in Suduku, a hotspot for transmission, had minimal or no symptoms, the researchers concluded. Already, West Africa’s Ebola epidemic was by far the largest in history to be caused by the virus, with 28,646 reported cases in 10 countries, including 11,323 deaths.

Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses known to man, but public-health experts have long suspected that the virus produces a wide range of symptoms—killing some people while leaving others who are infected without any illness.

“It tells us there was a lot more human-to-human transmissions than we thought,” said Gene Richardson, lead author of the study, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford and an infectious-diseases consultant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “You have to prevent every instance of human-to-human transmission, because you don’t know which ones are going to be symptomatic.”

Dr. Richardson, who cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, believes there were 50,000 to 60,000 human transmissions of Ebola during the epidemic.

The findings suggest that some people may unknowingly spread the disease, posing new challenges to medical workers and public-health officials seeking to curb the next outbreak.

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A mother and her children at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, stand in front of chairs representing family members who died in the Ebola virus during an outbreak of the disease in 2014. PHOTO: AHMED JALLANZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The researchers presented their findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. The study is scheduled to be published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases on Tuesday.

Ebola experts, including the authors, said one study isn’t definitive and more research is needed to determine how common asymptomatic and mild Ebola infections are.

“I don’t think we can definitively conclude that asymptomatic Ebola is common,” said Daniel Bausch, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s epidemic clinical management unit for pandemic and epidemic diseases. The study “gives us a lead on questions to be followed up on,” he said. Dr. Bausch is a deputy editor of the journal in which the study is being published.

Paul Farmer, Harvard University professor, co-founder of Partners in Health and senior author of the study, said he and his colleagues pursued the study because most viruses produce a range of symptoms, from mild to severe.

“So why would all Ebola be highly symptomatic?” he said of the West African epidemic. “I said it just makes no sense.”

A few earlier studies, including one involving an outbreak in 1976, have found virus antibodies in people who had contact with Ebola patients but didn’t get sick themselves. A recent review estimated that 27% of Ebola infections in past outbreaks—not including in West Africa—were “minimally symptomatic,” meaning mild or no illness.

A large study of Ebola survivors in Liberia conducted by the U.S. and Liberian governments has identified at least 175 people who don’t recall having any Ebola symptoms but tested positive for the virus and have suffered some of the same postdisease symptoms that survivors have, such as joint pain, said Mosoka Fallah, co-principal investigator of the study.

Such a spectrum of outcomes would lower the overall death rate of Ebola, which public-health officials have estimated in some outbreaks to be as high as 90%.

The researchers conducted their study in Sukudu, a village of about 880 residents in eastern
Sierra Leone that had been an Ebola hot spot in late 2014 and early 2015. There had been 34 cases of Ebola reported in the village, including 28 deaths.

Returning a year later, they tested 187 adults and children who had been under quarantine and were likely exposed to Ebola either through sharing a household or a public toilet with others who had the disease.

Of them, 14 had Ebola antibodies, indicating that they had been infected. Twelve of them said they hadn’t had any Ebola symptoms, which normally include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The other two said they had had fevers. Those 12 were 25% of the total number of confirmed and suspected Ebola cases in the village.

Now, the researchers are expanding their study to more villages in Sierra Leone and Liberia to see if their findings bear out.

“We’re doing more studies to determine the true burden of the epidemic,” Dr. Richardson said.




 Ebola Evolved Into Deadlier Enemy During the African Epidemic [The New York Times, Nov 3, 2016]

By Carl Zimmer

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A burial team in Bong County, Liberia, buried a suspected Ebola victim in October 2014. The Ebola epidemic that hit West Africa that year claimed 11,310 lives. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The Ebola epidemic that tore through West Africa in 2014 claimed 11,310 lives, far more than any previous outbreak. A combination of factors contributed to its savagery, among them a mobile population, crumbling public health systems, official neglect and hazardous burial practices.

But new research suggests another impetus: The virus may have evolved a new weapon against its human hosts. In studies published on Thursday in the journal Cell, two teams of scientists report that a genetic mutation may have made Ebola more deadly by improving the virus’s ability to enter human cells.

The researchers do not yet understand exactly how it works, but several lines of evidence suggest it helped expand the scope of the epidemic. One alarming finding: Patients infected with the mutated version of Ebola were significantly more likely to die.

“It’s hard to escape the conclusion that it’s an adaptation to the human host,” said Dr. Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an author of one of the new studies.

Normally, Ebola circulates among animal hosts, probably African bats. Scientists suspect that the West African epidemic began when a bat infected a boy in a village in Guinea in December 2013.

As reports of the outbreak surfaced, Dr. Pardis C. Sabeti, a computational biologist at Harvard, and her colleagues started a collaboration with doctors in Sierra Leone. The researchers quickly sequenced the genomes of 99 Ebola viruses isolated from 78 patients there.

Their analysis showed that Ebola was moving quickly from one victim to the next, and that the virus was gaining new mutations along the way. One worrying possibility was that those mutations somehow sped up Ebola’s replication.

But it was also possible these changes didn’t mean anything at all. “We know that viruses mutate,” Dr. Sabeti said. “There was nothing revelatory in that.”

Each of Ebola’s seven genes encodes a protein. Even if a gene is altered with a mutation, it may end up making precisely the same protein as before, or one that works exactly the same way.

Last year computer simulations by Dr. Simon C. Lovell, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Manchester, and his colleagues did not find any important difference in Ebola’s proteins caused by the new mutations. But that work was based only on what scientists knew about the molecular biology of Ebola at the time.

There was still a lot left to learn, it turned out. Dr. Sabeti and her colleagues went on to analyze 1,489 Ebola genomes, tracing the virus’s development over the course of the epidemic in an evolutionary tree.

The tree showed that one mutation arose at a crucial point in the outbreak. Known as GPA82V, it was first observed in viral samples collected from a patient in Guinea on March 31, 2014.

Ebola viruses carrying GPA82V exploded across all three countries. The original version of the virus, by contrast, sputtered on at low levels in Guinea before disappearing in a couple of months.

The GPA82V mutation alters the gene that directs production of Ebola’s surface proteins, called glycoproteins. The tips of these proteins contact human host cells, opening a passageway by which the virus enters.

To judge the effects of the mutation, Dr. Luban created a form of HIV studded with Ebola’s surface proteins and observed as these hybrid viruses infected human cells. One set of hybrid viruses contained the GPA82V mutation; the other contained the original version of the Ebola gene.

The mutation, the scientists found, made the viruses much more successful at attacking human cells and those of other primates. Compared with the older gene, the mutated form infected four times as many primate cells.

But the mutation did not help the hybrid viruses infect the cells of other species, such as cats and dogs.

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Times Coverage of Ebola: Pulitzer-Winning Articles and More The Times produced more than 400 articles, including about 50 front-page stories from inside the Ebola-afflicted countries themselves. Here is a sample of work.

In a parallel study also published on Thursday, Jonathan K. Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, and his colleagues analyzed 1,610 Ebola genomes and arrived at the same conclusion as Dr. Sabeti: The GPA82V mutation arose early in the West African epidemic and spread like wildfire.

Dr. Ball’s team also created hybrid viruses — instead of HIV, they used mouse viruses — and found that GPA82V made them twice as infectious to human cells.

The scientists also tried infecting cells from fruit bats, including an African species thought to be Ebola’s natural host. The mutation actually made the viruses worse at infecting the bat cells.
Dr. Lovell said he and his colleagues had completed a study of their own, now under review at a journal, that produced similar findings. As a result, he is no longer a skeptic.

“Now it seems there is a change,” he said of the Ebola virus. “What we don’t know yet is the effect on people.”

Dr. Sabeti and her colleagues have discovered some frightening clues in patient medical records. Among 194 cases, they found, people infected with mutated Ebola were significantly more likely to die than those with the older strain.

Collectively, Dr. Luban said, the evidence points strongly to the conclusion that Ebola’s mutation helped it spread more effectively in people.

“It looks like a duck, and so I think it probably is a duck,” he said.

It is not clear what role the mutation played in West Africa’s epidemic. Perhaps it was only minor, compared with geography and the poor state of region’s public health systems, Dr. Ball said.

But the fact that Ebola did gain at least one advantage that made it better at infecting human cells worries him anyway. We will almost certainly face another outbreak.

“You will see that virus trying to adapt to its new host,” he said. “And the longer you let that spillover take place, the more chance it has to become better adapted.”


West Nile Fever News



 WNV Equine Case Confirmed in Kentucky [The Horse, Nov 14, 2016]

By Michelle N. Anderson

mosquito.jpg


The University of Kentucky’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed a West Nile virus (WNV) diagnosis affecting a 12-year-old Palomino gelding in Powell County, Kentucky.

On Nov. 4, the horse presented as lethargic and febrile (with a fever) and had a poor appetite, according to an Equine Disease Communication Center report. State animal health officials confirmed the WNV diagnosis on Nov. 11.

This is the seventh equine case of WNV reported in Kentucky for 2016. None of the seven horses had been vaccinated for WNV.

West Nile is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs for WNV are flulike, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed; fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculation; hyperesthesia (hypersensitivity to touch and sound); changes in mentation (mentality), when horses look like they are daydreaming or "just not with it"; occasional somnolence (drowsiness); propulsive walking (driving or pushing forward, often without control); and "spinal" signs, including asymmetrical weakness. Some horses show asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia. Equine mortality rate can be as high as 30-40%.

Horse owners should also consult their private practicing veterinarian to determine an appropriate disease prevention plan for their horses. Vaccines have proven to be a very effective prevention tool. Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot. However, if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the two-shot vaccination series within a three- to six-week period.

In addition to vaccinations, horse owners need to reduce the mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas. Recommendations include removing stagnant water sources, keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening, and using mosquito repellents.



 Study Suggests West Nile Virus Is Deadlier Than Expected [The Wall Street Journal, Nov 14, 2016]

By BETSY MCKAY
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Culex species mosquitoes viewed through a microscope at New York City's Public Health Laboratory. Such mosquitoes are common carriers of the West Nile virus. PHOTO: KEVIN HAGEN

Researchers in Texas find 13% of patients there died, some years after infection

ATLANTA—West Nile virus may be deadlier than public health officials and doctors have thought, according to a new study.

The virus, which like Zika is transmitted to humans mostly by mosquitoes, causes a fever and other symptoms in about one out of every five people it infects. While the majority of those infected never develop any symptoms, patients in about 4% of the 43,937 U.S. cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1999 to 2015 died.

Yet researchers in Texas discovered a much higher death rate in an analysis of West Nile cases in their state. Of 4,144 patients who were ill from 2002 to 2012, 13% died, they found in their analysis of data, which went through the end of 2013. Nearly half of the deceased were patients who had recovered from their initial illnesses, only to die months or years later of causes related to the virus.

The patients died of kidney failure—the virus replicates in the kidneys—as well as infectious, digestive and circulatory causes. Most had had severe forms of infection, such as encephalitis.

The findings suggest more needs to be done to protect people from West Nile, said Kristy Murray, principal investigator of the study. She is assistant dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and associate vice chair for research at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

“This data backs up our concerns: West Nile not only causes disease but increases mortality,” she said.

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The study was presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

Patients under 60 years old had a risk of dying from kidney disease that was 11 times higher than for the general population of that age group, Dr. Murray said. That difference “is big, really big,” she said.

West Nile virus was first identified in Uganda in 1937 and has spread all over the U.S. since it was discovered in New York City in 1999. There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the virus on the market.

Of the 554 patients who were deceased, nearly half—268—died more than three months after they were infected, with a median delay of 3.2 years.

‘‘This data backs up our concerns: West Nile not only causes disease but increases mortality.’’

—Kristy Murray, assistant dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and associate vice chair for research at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston


The number of delayed deaths may be even higher, Dr. Murray said. Texas suffered a major West Nile outbreak in 2012, and more people who were infected then may have died since the end of 2013, when the data set researchers examined ends, she said.

Dr. Murray said the researchers decided to examine statewide death statistics after noticing in another study in Houston that many patients who had had severe forms of the disease later died. “We noticed people dying earlier than we expected, particularly from kidney disease,” she said. “Once they had West Nile, their health declined rapidly.”



 Researchers say West Nile is three times more deadly than previously thought [Houston Chronicle, Nov 14, 2016]

By Mike Hixenbaugh

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File- In this Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, mosquitos are sorted at the Dallas County mosquito lab in Dallas. A cooler-than-normal spring has slowed the breeding season for mosquitoes, but experts warn this doesn't mean that Texans should let down their guard when it comes to protecting themselves from the West Nile virus. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File) (Photo: LM Otero, STF)

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine had begun to notice an unsettling trend. For years, they had been studying a group of more than 4,000 Texas patients who'd become ill with West Nile virus.

The vast majority of them, about 94 percent, had survived the illness, which causes only mild or
no symptoms in most people.

But then, as months and years rolled by, they were surprised to find many patients became ill again - some with kidney problems - and died.

"These weren't just 80- or 90-year-old people," said Dr. Kristy Murray, an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor's National School of Tropical Medicine. "They were in their 50s, 60s, sometimes even their 40s. And we were really concerned."

The researchers began to wonder: Was it possible West Nile is far more serious than anyone realized?

The answer, they announced Monday, is yes.

The Baylor team crunched the data and found the West Nile virus is three times deadlier than previously believed, with fatalities attributable to the mosquito-borne disease coming not just in the immediate aftermath of an infection, but also years after patients seem to have recovered.

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They presented their findings at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Stephen Higgs, that organization's president, said the study demonstrates the need for continued federal investments to improve prevention and treatment of a disease that first spread to the U.S. nearly two decades ago.

"In much the same way that research into Zika virus is showing a more destructive virus than originally thought, we are still discovering previously unreported long-term destructive effects of West Nile," Higgs said.

Renal failure possible
Murray and her colleagues looked at 4,144 West Nile infections in Texas between 2002 and 2012, finding that 286 of the patients died within 90 days. After searching the remaining patients' names in a registry of deaths maintained by the state health department, they found that another 268 had died months or years later.

In those cases, according to a review of death certificates, renal failure was a leading cause, confirming Murray's previous research that suggested the virus continues to replicate in a patient's kidneys after symptoms have passed, causing long-term harm.

According to the new study, West Nile survivors are 11 times more likely to die of kidney disease compared to the general population.

Taking the later deaths into account, the Baylor researcher found that, overall, 13 percent of West Nile patients died as a result of the disease. That's more than three times higher than the 4 percent West Nile death rate reported between 1999 and 2015 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which focused only on those who died from the initial illness.

"What this means is, even if you survive the infection, you could still be at risk of premature death because of kidney disease or other secondary diseases," Murray said.

Higher threat than Zika

Most of the delayed deaths were tied to a large outbreak of West Nile in 2012, which means those patients died within a few years. Others died up to 10 years after contracting the virus, Murray said.

Asked about how the findings might impact public health policy, Department of State Health Services spokesman Chris Van Deusen said it's important that people remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the disease.

"We know that West Nile virus can cause serious illness and death, and we strongly encourage people to protect themselves from mosquito bites in multiple ways so they don't contract West Nile or other mosquito-borne diseases," Van Deusen said.

Although media attention over the past year has centered on the spread of the Zika virus, Murray said her team's findings are a reminder West Nile is a bigger threat. The virus, which can also be spread by birds, appeared in Texas in 2002; since then, thousands of Texans have been infected.

Some years are worse than others, according to DSHS. A record 1,868 cases were recorded in Texas during the 2012 outbreak; so far this year, about 260 people have been infected.

Like Zika, most people infected with West Nile have no symptoms, and those who do often experience a fever, nausea, fatigue or a rash. Though in some extreme cases patients experience swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Delayed deaths appeared to be more common in patients who suffered neurological complications, Murray said. There's no treatment or vaccine for the virus.

The fact that researchers are learning about the long-term consequences of West Nile even after years of research highlights the need to devote significant resources to studying Zika, Murray said.

"We need to be asking, 'What are the long term effects?' " she said of the mosquito-borne virus, which began spreading in south Florida this summer and could reach Houston. "We're still asking that for West Nile. That's going to be an important question for Zika, too."



 Smith County reports fourth case of West Nile [KLTV News, Nov 11, 2016]

By Ashley M. Slayton, Digital Content Producer

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

A fourth case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease has been reported in Smith County.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 258 cases of West Nile in the state - 79 of those cases are West Nile fever and 179 of those cases are West Nile neuroinvasive disease.

Other East Texas counties that have reported cases of West Nile to the state include Bowie, Henderson, Hopkins, Jefferson, Titus, Van Zandt and Wood counties.
Current cases of West Nile in East Texas:
Angelina County: 1 West Nile Fever, 4 West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease
Bowie County: 2 West Nile Fever
Gregg County: 2 West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease
Henderson County: 2 West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease
Hopkins County: 1 West Nile Fever
Smith County: 4 West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease
Titus County: 1 West Nile Fever
Van Zandt County: 1 West Nile Fever
Wood County: 1 West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease

Since the start of the year, at least 10 deaths in the state have been associated with West Nile.

In 2015, there were 275 cases of West Nile in the state, including 16 deaths.

People can reduce their risk of exposure to the mosquito-borne virus that causes it by eliminating standing water and other mosquito breeding areas and avoiding mosquito bites.

Residents are encouraged to use the 4 Ds to optimize protection from mosquitoes:
Deet: use insect repellent while outdoors at all times to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects.
Dress: wear long, loose and light-colored clothing – including pants and long sleeves.
Drain: drain all standing water in and around the home and office.
Dusk and Dawn: limit outdoor activities during the dusk and dawn hours as mosquitoes are most active during those times.



 West Nile, EEE Detected in Tennessee Horses [The Horse, Nov 8, 2016]

With unseasonably warm weather persisting well into the fall, mosquito-borne illnesses remain a serious health threat for Tennessee horses.

A horse in Dyer County and a horse in Gibson County both recently tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). Additionally, a horse in Chester County has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

Both WNV and EEE are viral diseases transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes.

“We typically think of mosquitoes as a summer-time pest,” said Tennessee State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM. “However, the record heat this fall has allowed mosquitoes to endure. It’s critical that livestock are current on annual vaccinations for year-round protection.”

Vaccines have proven to be a very effective prevention tool for both WNV and EEE. Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot. However, if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the two-shot vaccination series within a three- to six-week period.

In addition to vaccinations, horse owners also need to reduce the mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas. Recommendations include removing stagnant water sources, keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening, and using mosquito repellents.

Clinical signs for WNV include flulike signs, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed; fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculations; hyperesthesia (hypersensitivity to touch and sound); changes in mentation (mentality), when horses look like they are daydreaming or "just not with it"; occasional somnolence (drowsiness); propulsive walking (driving or pushing forward, often without control); and "spinal" signs, including asymmetrical weakness. Some horses show asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia. Equine mortality rate can be as high as 30-40%.

Clinical signs of EEE include moderate to high fever, depression, lack of appetite, cranial nerve deficits (facial paralysis, tongue weakness, difficulty swallowing), behavioral changes (aggression, self-mutilation, or drowsiness), gait abnormalities, or severe central nervous system signs, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness, and seizures. The course of EEE can be swift, with death occurring two to three days after onset of clinical signs despite intensive care.

Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems.



 Louisiana reports 1st West Nile virus death of season [Outbreak News Today, Nov 4, 2016]

by Robert Herriman

The Louisiana Department of Health reported earlier this week the first death related to West Nile virus (WNV) in 2016. Due to privacy issues, WNV deaths by parish are not reported.

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Culex tarsalis mosquito/CDC

Health officials also reported six additional cases of West Nile virus in the state. This brings the total West Nile virus cases to 36.

Of the West Nile virus cases, three were asymptomatic; 12 were fever cases, a mild illness; and 21 were neuroinvasive disease, a severe illness that can lead to brain damage and death.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own. There is a more serious form of the illness, West Nile Neuroinvasive disease, which may have additional symptoms of neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill.

Through Nov. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of 1,491 cases of West Nile virus disease in humans from 47 states and the District of Columbia. 69 WNV fatalities have been reported to date.



 Lubbock Health Dept.: First 2016 human case of West Nile Virus found in Lubbock [KCBD-TV, Nov 2, 2016]


West Nile in Lubbock.jpg

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Information provided by the City of Lubbock

The City of Lubbock Health Department has confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in Lubbock for 2016. WNV is a disease of birds. Humans are exposed to the virus when they are bitten by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. The infected mosquitoes become the link (vector) that spreads the disease from birds to humans through a mosquito bite. WNV cannot be spread person-to-person.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own. There is a more serious form of the illness, West Nile Neuroinvasive disease, which may have additional symptoms of neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.

While we are near the end of mosquito season it is important for individuals to continue to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. These include:
Wearing an EPA registered insect repellant
Covering up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Keeping mosquitoes out of living areas by using air conditioning or intact window screens
Limiting outdoor activities during peak mosquito times
Dumping standing water around your home


Second case of West Nile reported in Gregg County [KLTV News, Nov 1, 2016]

By Ashley M. Slayton, Digital Content Producer

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GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

A second case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease has been reported in Gregg County.

As of Monday morning, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 225 cases of West Nile in the state - 72 of those cases are West Nile fever and 153 of those cases are West Nile neuroinvasive disease.

The case reported Monday is the second known case of West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease in Gregg County.

Other East Texas counties who have reported cases to the state include:
Bowie County - 1 case of West Nile Fever
Henderson County - 1 case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease
Hopkins County - 1 case of West Nile Fever
Jefferson County - 4 cases of West Nile Fever
Smith County - 3 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease
Titus County - 1 case of West Nile Fever
Van Zandt County - 1 case of West Nile Fever
Wood County - 1 case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease

Since the start of the year, at least 10 deaths in the state have been associated with West Nile.
People can reduce their risk of exposure to the mosquito-borne virus that causes it by eliminating standing water and other mosquito breeding areas and avoiding mosquito bites.

The symptoms of West Nile neuroinvasive disease - a severe form of the infection - include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

Only about one out of 150 people infected with West Nile virus develop the neuroinvasive disease, the DSHS reports.

In 2015, there were 275 cases of West Nile in the state, including 16 deaths.

Residents are encouraged to use the 4 Ds to optimize protection from mosquitoes:
Deet: use insect repellent while outdoors at all times to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects.
Dress: wear long, loose and light-colored clothing – including pants and long sleeves.
Drain: drain all standing water in and around the home and office.
Dusk and Dawn: limit outdoor activities during the dusk and dawn hours as mosquitoes are most active during those times.



 Northwest Iowa West Nile death raises concern, but not panic [The Daily Reporter, Oct 29, 2016]

By Dana Larsen,

STORM LAKE — After the death of an elderly northwest Iowa resident was linked to West Nile virus, state and local health officials are urging people to protect themselves from the mosquito bites that can spread the illness.

“Fall is actually the time we see the most mosquito-related problems,” Pam Bogue, of the Buena Vista County Public Health Department, said. “The mosquitoes will remain active here until after the first good, hard frost.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health this week announced the first West Nile virus death in Iowa since 2010. The name and location of the victim are not being revealed.

Testing at the State Hygienic Laboratory has confirmed 33 cases of West Nile virus in Iowa, with several more under investigation. This is more than double the number of cases reported last year at this time.

Bogue said that no clear trend is evident yet, however. “Every year we see spikes and valleys in various illnesses, but unless we see the problem go up and stay up, we just want people to be alert in the community, without being alarmist.”

West Nile is a particularly difficult illness to gauge, as most cases are never reported. Generally, people who get the illness have symptoms like mild fever, headache, body aches and possibly rash and swollen lymph glands. “They slowly recover and just write it off as some kind of bug,” Bogue said. Even when people do go to the doctor, it may be diagnosed as similar illnesses like meningitis or encephalitis. Less than 1 percent of victims have severe results from West Nile, which can include muscle weakness, severe headache, high fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, tremors, paralysis and in very rare cases, death is possible, especially among those over 60 years old.

“Though autumn weather is beginning, this death and continuing reports of West Nile virus cases are reminders that mosquitoes are still biting and Iowans should still be mindful of that when outdoors,” IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said.

Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:

- Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

- Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.

Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than 1 percent of people infected become seriously ill and rarely, someone dies. According to the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention, people over 60 years of age are at greatest risk for severe disease.
Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds. In 2015, 14 cases of West Nile virus were reported to IDPH.

Previous to this year, the last death caused by West Nile virus was in 2010, and there were two deaths that year. For more information about West Nile virus, visit idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/west-nile-virus.

In other health news, BV County's Bogue said that flu cases are just beginning to be seen locally, but they have been sporadic and no clear trend is yet evident. The number of cases typically increases as weather gets cold and people spend more time in groups in closed indoor environments.

Mumps cases are still being seen in Iowa, but have mostly been in eastern Iowa, where an outbreak was reported at the University of Iowa earlier. No cases have been reported this season in BV County.

In Zika virus concerns, a state surveillance has been completed across Iowa without any of the type of mosquitoes that commonly cause the illness found. However, tests were also done of 450 people and 17 were found to be infected. “Either people are getting infected while they are out of the state, or people are coming in form out of state and infecting them,” Bogue said.



 Confirmed case of equine West Nile reported in San Jacinto County [Houston Chronicle, Oct 27, 2016]

By Vanesa Brashier

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The first reported case of West Nile this year for San Jacinto County resulted in the death of a horse.

San Jacinto County authorities are warning area residents that the county's first case of West Nile virus this year has claimed the life of a horse.

According to Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Randy Ellisor, a 17-year-old mare had to be put down due to her deteriorating condition as a result of the virus.

The horse's medical issues were first reported on Friday, Oct. 21, by a homeowner on FM 1725 near the Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department. The horse was unable to stand.

Local veterinarian Dr. Merry Vann arrived at the home to conduct tests. The mare was found to be positive for West Nile and was euthanized. The owner's other three horses were vaccinated.

"As a reminder, this deadly virus applies to horses as well as humans. This virus does not apply to dogs, cats and cattle, to the best of our knowledge. Animal owners, please do your diligence and determine the impact, if any, on you and your animals," Ellisor said.

According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, West Nile virus carries a fatality rate of 33 percent for all horses exhibiting signs of the infection.
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Symptoms include seizures, fever, weakness and/or paralysis of the hind limbs, impaired vision, weakness, aimless wandering and head pressing.

West Nile virus, as well as equine encephalitis, can be prevented by an inexpensive vaccine found through local veterinarians and farm supply stores. Once a horse has the virus, however, it is too late to receive the vaccine.

Rift Valley Fever News



 West Africa tackles human and animal health together to contain diseases [Reuters, Nov 24, 2016]

By Kieran Guilbert

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A drive by West African nations to tackle zoonotic diseases, those that jump from animals to humans, could help to protect the region from future health crises such as the world's worst Ebola outbreak, a United Nations official said on Thursday.

Ministers from the region met in Senegal last week to adopt an approach to infectious diseases that will address human and animal health together, and see countries work collaboratively to contain outbreaks of diseases ranging from bird flu to Zika.

Three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases in recent years have spread to humans from animals or animal products, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which infected more than 28,600 people and killed some 11,300 across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, began in December 2013 when a young boy in rural Guinea came into contact with an infected animal, the WHO said.

"There are no boundaries between humans and animals ... we cannot have separate health mechanisms and responses any longer," said WHO representative Ibrahima Soce Fall.

"Ebola was a turning point in terms of taking a new approach to zoonotic diseases," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

West Africa is dealing with outbreaks of several zoonotic diseases, such as bird flu in Cameroon and Nigeria, Rift Valley fever in Niger, and the recent emergence of the Zika virus strain from Brazil in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.

In addition to their health impact, such outbreaks also inflict a heavy toll on the economy.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are estimated to have lost a collective $2.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, said the World Bank.

Countries in the region agreed at the One Health conference in Dakar to carry out national risk assessments, set up alert mechanisms for disease outbreaks, and ensure their laboratories can handle both human and animal samples, according to the WHO.

Improved surveillance at community level is crucial to identifying outbreaks in animals before they spread to humans and develop into national or international crises, Fall said.

Yet some countries in West Africa may struggle to implement the new approach in the near future amid a shortage of veterinarians and domestic financing, the WHO official added.

"Certain countries are going to move slower than others, so implementing the approach region-wide will take time," he said.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)



 Better surveillance, more cohesive policies needed against Rift Valley fever outbreaks [Science Daily, Nov 22, 2016]

161122080430_1_540x360.jpg
Researchers have developed Rift Valley fever risk zone maps. This map shows risk distribution in districts of central and southern Kenya. Credit: Map by Mosomtai

Research on the mosquito-borne Rift Valley fever in east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula shows that current surveillance systems are unable to detect the virus in livestock before it spreads to humans. A coherent policy is needed to combat the viral disease, which has the potential to spread to previously unaffected areas, according to studies at Umeå University in Sweden.

Researchers found that knowledge, attitudes and practices around Rift Valley fever (RVF) varied in local communities in affected countries. There were also no existing connections between many affected areas and authorities that could have limited the impact of RVF outbreaks.

"To confront Rift Valley fever outbreaks we need a policy that better incorporates the local communities, ecological factors and human interactions with livestock and the environment," says Osama Ahmed Hassan, doctoral student at the Umeå University Department of Clinical Microbiology, Unit of Virology and the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Unit of Epidemiology and Global Health.

Combatting an emerging viral zoonosis

RVF is a viral infection that spreads by mosquitoes and causes mass abortions and death in livestock. The RVF virus can also cause a potentially deadly haemorrhagic fever in humans, for which there are no available treatments or vaccines.

Osama Ahmed Hassan and his research colleagues at Umeå University found that the ecology of the affected countries in east Africa is conducive for mosquitoes, livestock and human interaction. The researchers at Umeå University and International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya, have developed RVF risk maps on a sub-regional scale that can be used in efforts to manage future RVF outbreaks.

Frequent outbreaks of Rift Valley fever occur in Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula. At the moment there is an ongoing outbreak in West Africa. There have also been imported Rift Valley fever cases reported in Europe and China, which points to the threat and likelihood of a global expansion of the mosquito-borne viral disease.

"Our research shows that the best way to combat Rift Valley fever outbreaks is with the so called 'One Health' approach. By this we mean strategies to combat the disease that incorporates knowledge about RVF virus in environment, animals and local communities and also consider socio-cultural and behavioural differences between communities," says Osama Ahmed Hassan.

Osama Ahmed Hassan is an infectious disease epidemiologist from Sudan who has been studying emerging zoonotic diseases such as RVF for over 6 years in east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Osama completed his Master's Degree in Public Health Epidemiology as well as his Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Public Health at Umeå University in Sweden. His research interest focuses on better approaches to outbreak investigation, risk communication during outbreaks and innovative tools for surveillance system for early detection of emerging zoonotic diseases. He is committed to using his findings to influence policy-making to better confront emerging zoonotic diseases on a regional and global scale.



 Rift Valley Fever epidemic kills at least 32 in Niger [Daily Nation, Nov 17, 2016]

NIAMEY

Rift+valley+fever.jpg


At least 32 people have died since late August in an epidemic of Rift Valley fever in the western Niger region of Tahoua, the country's health ministry said Thursday.

A ministry statement read on national radio said 230 people had been infected with the fever-causing viral disease that mainly affects animals but also humans, "unfortunately including 32 deaths".

The mortality rate had fallen from 50 per cent three months ago to 14 per cent due to a government information campaign urging people to bury animal carcasses and handle contaminated animals with care and avoid drinking raw milk.

Symptoms include fever, headaches and stomach pain in people, while in livestock, common symptoms are fever and bleeding.



 Niger Rift Valley fever update: 90 cases, 28 deaths [Outbreak News Today, Oct 10, 2016]

by Robert Herriman

In an update on the Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreak in western Niger, the World Health Organization (WHO) puts the case tally at 90, including 28 deaths, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation report.

Niger-CIA_WFB_Map.png
Niger/CIA

The outbreak started in August in the Tahoua region.

The fear from UN health officials is that the viral disease my spread in West Africa. “Herders migrating with infected livestock pose the biggest risk of the epidemic crossing borders,” Oumarou Maidadji, medical coordinator for The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Nomadic stockbreeders from Niger and neighboring countries have just participated in the Cure Salée festival, a major annual mass gathering event from 23 to 25 September. During this festival, herds are brought to graze on the salty pastures ahead of the dry season. Around 2 million cattle and even more small ruminants were expected to be part of the event.

Rift Valley Fever is mosquito-borne virus that is endemic in parts of Africa including South Africa. It primarily infects animals like sheep, cattle and goats and it can have an economic impact on a community due to the loss of livestock.

Humans get infected through contact with infected animal blood or organs. Butchering and slaughtering of animals is a primary cause of transmission to humans. Certain occupations are at a higher risk of getting Rift Valley Fever like farmers, herders and veterinarians.

It can also be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites and the bites of blood-sucking flies.

Most cases of Rift Valley Fever are mild and symptoms include fever, headaches and muscle pain. However, a small percentage of people can get serious disease which includes retinitis, encephalitis and a hemorrhagic fever. Fatalities happen in less than 1 percent of those infected.



 Niger: rift valley fever outbreak kills 21 [Africanews, Sep 30, 2016]

by Dibie Ike Michael with REUTERS

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Health workers in western Niger are bracing-up to contain an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever that has killed at least 21 people over the past month.

An NGO- the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and Niger’s health authorities have opened an emergency treatment centre in the region’s hardest-hit district.

“We have set up mobile clinics, comprising of performers and nurses who have gone around in different villages to raise awareness on prevention and contamination,” said a medical co-ordinator for ALIMA, Dr Gilles Koupo.

We have set up mobile clinics, comprising of performers and nurses who have gone around in different villages to raise awareness on prevention and contamination. With no specific treatment or effective human vaccine, Rift Valley fever can cause blindness and severe loss of strength.


A patient Mahamoudou Mahama said “I came to the clinic because I was bleeding. I first went to a local clinic, and they gave me medication and referred me to this clinic. I was treated, and the bleeding stopped,”.

Authorities have also intensified their awareness campaign for this target groups, especially during this time of the year.

“We took advantage of this festival, which also brings together pastoralists, to sensitise and raise awareness on the prevention of this disease, as well as teaching people to avoid,” Health official, Dr Ag Ahmed said.

Nigerien authorities say ALIMA, and local medical teams will continue to locate infected people to provide emergency care due to the disease’s high mortality rate of around 50 percent with deaths occurring between three or six days following the onset of symptoms.



 Rift Valley fever in Niger [World Health Organization, Sep 29, 2016]

On 30 August 2016, WHO received reports about unexplained deaths among humans, along with death and abortion in livestock in the North Western parts of Niger, and the areas bordering Mali.

From 2 August to 22 September 2016, 64 human cases including 23 deaths have been reported in Tchintabaraden health district in Tahoua region. The area is mainly populated by nomadic stockbreeders.

Most of the cases are male (62.5%), and work as farmers or animal breeders. In the affected area, an epizootic outbreak is also reported among livestock during the same time duration, including deaths and abortions among cattle and small ruminants.

As of 16 September 2016, 6 of the 13 human specimens tested at Institute Pasteur (IP), Dakar were positive for Rift Valley Fever (RVF). Among the 6 animal specimens tested, 3 were positive for RVF. Sequencing and further laboratory testing is ongoing. Genetic sequence data is required to confirm or refute the endogenous origin of the outbreak. Moreover, laboratory support for Niger is being considered.

Public Health Response
On 31 August, a multisectoral national rapid response team, including members from the Ministry of Health, veterinary services and Centre de Recherche Médicale et Sanitaire (CERMES), and World Health Organization, was deployed for field investigation. Ministries of Health and Agriculture/Livestock have developed a national response plan.

The WHO Country Office continues to provide technical and financial support for surveillance, outbreak investigation, technical guidelines regarding case definition, case management, shipment of samples and risk communication.

FAO, OIE, and WHO are coordinating on animal and human health and providing additional support to Niger for the outbreak response WHO is working with partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) to coordinate international support for the response. IFRC, and Unicef are supporting outbreak response.

The NGO ALIMA and the Nigerian NGO BEFEN are providing support for case management and social mobilisation on the ground.

Currently, in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Health, an entomological survey is being prepared for urgent implementation with WHO technical and financial support. This is to identify potential vectors for RVF in the region and it is considered to be in the definition of vector control activities.

Currently, some of the main challenges include under-detection of human cases. The risk that only severe cases are being detected and reported cannot be ruled out. There is no national local capacity to test the specimens. For laboratory confirmation for RVF, the samples are being shipped to WHO regional collaborating centres. Moreover, to ascertain the extent of this outbreak, the involvement of the national livestock department is required.

WHO Risk Assessment
Based on the available information, the event risk assessment is ongoing. The risk of further spread of outbreak within Niger and internationally (especially to neighbouring countries and those on the transhumance and migration routes) cannot be ruled out.

Nomadic stockbreeders from Niger and neighbouring countries have just participated in the Cure Salée festival, a major annual mass gathering event from 23 to 25 September. During this festival, herds are brought to graze on the salty pastures ahead of the dry season. Around 2 million cattle and even more small ruminants were expected to be part of the event.

At the end of the rainy season, as per known migration patterns, the nomadic human population along with their herds will progressively move to other Southern Sub Saharan countries and irrigation systems along the Niger river where pastures may still be available. In conjunction with the ongoing outbreak, the high density of animals in the area and the transhumance pattern significantly increases the risk of international spread. The security situation in the Sahel is unstable and also needs to be taken into consideration.



 Outbreak: Rift Valley Fever reported in Niger, Mali [Outbreak News Today, Sep 21, 2016]

by Robert Herriman

Neighboring West Africa countries, Miger and Mali, are experiencing outbreaks of the viral disease, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), where nearly 100 cases and at least 21 deaths have been reported.

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Public domain image/Mondo Magic

The outbreak in Niger has sickened 52 people since August, including 21 fatalities, according to

The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA). And the aid agency says that what’s been seen is only the “tip of the iceberg”.

In neighboring Mali, nearly 40 people have been infected and the health ministry, along with Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) has deployed experts in the region to determine the cause and control the outbreak.

Rift Valley Fever is mosquito-borne virus that is endemic in parts of Africa including South Africa. It primarily infects animals like sheep, cattle and goats and it can have an economic impact on a community due to the loss of livestock.

Humans get infected through contact with infected animal blood or organs. Butchering and slaughtering of animals is a primary cause of transmission to humans. Certain occupations are at a higher risk of getting Rift Valley Fever like farmers, herders and veterinarians.

It can also be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites and the bites of blood-sucking flies.

Most cases of Rift Valley Fever are mild and symptoms include fever, headaches and muscle pain. However, a small percentage of people can get serious disease which includes retinitis, encephalitis and a hemorrhagic fever. Fatalities happen in less than 1 percent of those infected.



 Rift valley fever outbreak in Mali [Africanews, Sep 21, 2016]

By Elvis Boh

400x225_344586.jpg

Close to 40 people have been infected following an outbreak of rift valley fever in Tchintabaraden, a border community between Mali and Niger.

The outbreak of the fever was confirmed after blood samples sent to Dakar for analyses tested positive.

The first case of rift valley fever diagnosed in August affected mostly nomads in the area.

Mali’s health minister and Médicins Sans Frontières have sent experts to find out the cause of the current outbreak and put in place an emergency intervention plan to stop the epidemic.

Rift valley fever primarily affects animals but also has the capacity to infect humans.

It is transmitted through direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of infected animals, ingestion of uncooked milk as well as bites from infected mosquitoes.



 Rift Valley Fever Outbreak Kills 21 in Western Niger [Voice of America, Sep 21, 2016]

DAKAR —

D39C6D7B-EE63-4C41-B600-17749F9AD52B_cx19_cy15_cw74_w987_r1_s_r1.jpg
FILE - Mariam Dagane, who is infected with Rift Valley fever, rests on her bed at the Garissa hospital, 390 km (242 miles) from Nairobi, January 9, 2007.

Health workers in western Niger are racing to contain an outbreak of Rift Valley fever that has killed at least 21 people over the past month, an aid agency said Wednesday.

The highly contagious disease, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes or close contact with contaminated animals, has infected 52 people in Niger's western region of Tahoua since late August, the country's health ministry said.

The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and Niger's health authorities have opened an emergency treatment center in the region's hardest-hit district of Tchintabaraden to look after the infected and stop the disease from spreading.

"Unfortunately, the 52 severe cases officially registered at present only represent the tip of the iceberg," ALIMA's medical coordinator Oumarou Maidadji said in a statement.

With no specific treatment or effective human vaccine, Rift Valley fever can cause blindness and severe hemorrhaging, leading the victim to vomit blood or even bleed to death.

Herders and farmers are deemed at higher risk of infection from the disease, which can devastate livestock.

Niger's health ministry said people in the Tahoua region, especially pastoralists, should avoid handling meat from infected animals, boil raw milk before consumption, and ensure that the corpses of dead animals are buried carefully.

ALIMA is also working with local partners and doctors to provide a mobile clinic which travels the region to inform the public about the disease and how to prevent it from spreading.

"Awareness is an essential step to contain the spread of the epidemic," Maidadji said. "Vigilance is crucial."



 Rift Valley fever in China [World Health Organization, Aug 2, 2016]

On 23 July 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of China notified WHO of an imported case of Rift Valley fever (RVF).

The case is a 45-year-old male from Henan province who had been working in Luanda, Angola. No history of travel outside Luanda has been reported. Investigation regarding potential source of infection is ongoing.

The case had onset of symptoms (headache, fever, arthralgia and muscle pain) on 14 July 2016 in Angola. He sought medical treatment in a hospital in Angola, however his symptoms persisted, and he returned to China on 21 July 2016.

By the time of arrival in Beijing he was already in a serious condition and he was transferred to a specialised hospital for treatment and placed under quarantine.

On 23 July 2016, a sample from the case tested positive for RVF at the Beijing Municipal Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Beijing CDC) and was confirmed on the same day at the China Center for Disease Prevention and Control (China CDC). The National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China convened an expert group on 23 July to review the patient’s epidemiological history, clinical symptoms and laboratory results and it was concluded that the case is China’s first imported case of RVF. The patient is currently in serious condition.

Public Health Measures
The Chinese government has implemented surveillance, monitoring and other measures for prevention and control, which include:
• Strengthening collaboration and coordination across sectors;
• Enhancing medical treatment of the case;
• Maintaining quarantine of the case, infection prevention and control measures in the hospital, epidemiological surveys and laboratory screening;
• Enhancing vector surveillance and monitoring, alongside enhanced measures such as efforts to control and eliminate mosquitoes, sterilization and disinfection in the environment; and
• Risk communication with the general public and dissemination of information.
In Angola, an investigation team has been set up by the Angolan Ministry of Health with the support of WHO.

WHO Risk Assessment
RVF is a viral zoonosis that primarily affects animals but can also infect humans. The vast majority of human infections result from direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of infected animals. Human infections have also resulted from the bites of infected mosquitoes and hematophagous (blood-feeding) flies. There is some evidence that humans can become infected with RVF by ingesting unpasteurized milk or uncooked meat from infected animals.

Since there has been no documented human to human transmission of the virus to date, and
appropriate vector control measures have been put in place in China, WHO assesses the risk for further disease transmission from a single imported case in China and/or from China to be low.



 China reports 1st Rift Valley Fever case, imported from Angola [Outbreak News Today, Jul 24, 2016]

By Robert Herriman

Chinese health officials have already reported 11 imported cases of the mosquito borne viral disease, yellow fever, in people working overseas in Angola, now health officials have reported the first case of another disease that can be transmitted by mosquitoes, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), according to a CRI Online report (computer translated).

china-1356803_640.jpg

Image/dinky123uk

The case, the first of its kind reported in China, is reported in a 45-year-old man from Henan province in Central China’s Yellow River Valley who returned from Angola. He presented with fever, headache, joint and muscle pain last week.

On July 21, he returned to Beijing and was hospitalized in quarantine and began treatment. He was diagnosed positive for RVF virus yesterday. He is currently in critical condition.

Rift Valley Fever is mosquito-borne virus that is endemic in parts of Africa including South Africa. It primarily infects animals like sheep, cattle and goats and it can have an economic impact on a community due to the loss of livestock.

Humans get infected through contact with infected animal blood or organs. Butchering and slaughtering of animals is a primary cause of transmission to humans. Certain occupations are at a higher risk of getting Rift Valley Fever like farmers, herders and veterinarians.

It can also be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites and the bites of blood-sucking flies.

Most cases of RVF are mild and symptoms include fever, headaches and muscle pain. However, a small percentage of people can get serious disease which includes retinitis, encephalitis and a hemorrhagic fever. Fatalities happen in less than 1 percent of those infected.



 5 Mysterious Diseases You Should Know About [TIME, Mar 24, 2016]

by Alexandra Sifferlin

Other infections of concern beyond Zika

Infectious disease experts like to say that viruses don’t recognize national borders—which has become all to clear with the spread of Zika throughout the Americas. BUT Zika is just one of many mysterious diseases you’ve never heard of—until you do. “When I tell people what I work on, nobody has ever heard of it,” says Amy Hartman, an assistant professor of infectious disease and microbiology in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “I always say, ‘If you have heard of it, that means something bad has happened.’”
Here are five others you may be hearing about sometime soon.

Rift Valley Fever
What it does to humans: Though it’s most common in livestock, Rift Valley fever is a mosquito-borne disease that can also infect people. As with Zika, most people with Rift Valley Fever do not show symptoms. However, for those who do, symptoms can include severe fever and body aches that can last seven to 10 days. Most people survive, but it can be fatal. The virus has also shown to cause some neurological problems.

Where it is: The virus started in Eastern Africa, but in the last few decades it has spread throughout that continent and the Middle East. While it hasn’t hit the U.S., it theoretically could.

Worry factor: “The main concern is that the mosquitoes that transmit the virus are found all over including the United States and in Europe,” says Hartman. She says there’s also some concern over the virus’s possible use as a bioweapon.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEEV)
What it does to humans: The virus has some nasty symptoms that start with a high fever, chills and vomiting and can develop into seizures and even coma. Its mortality rate, according to Dr. William Klimstra, an associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research, is over 30%. People who survive can have severe brain damage.

Where it is: Unlike diseases like Zika and chikungunya, EEEV has been in the United States for many years, but since only a handful of Americans are infected each year, it’s remained off the radar. That appears to be slowly changing. “Cases have ticked up in the last 10 years,” says Klimstra. “Historically it was thought the mosquito that transmitted the virus didn’t really feed on humans, and was confined in swampy areas. But the virus is being more commonly found in backyard mosquitoes.”

Worry factor: The effects can be terrible and lasting. Klimstra says the biggest concern is that EEEV could undergo a genetic change that makes it more likely to spread among humans. “It’s lurking in our midst,” he says.

Kyasanur Forest Disease
What it does to humans: It’s a tick-borne infection that can cause fever, chills and headache as well as muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding. Some people have a second wave of symptoms that include tremors and vision problems.

Where it is: Limited to India so far. The virus was identified in 1957 when it was found in a sick
monkey in the Kyasanur Forest there. Today, around 400 to 500 people per year are sickened by the virus.

Worry factor: CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says “The fact that there are a lot of dangerous organisms out there, and with the amount of mobility and travel and trade that we have, we need to expect the unexpected.”

Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus
What it does to humans: Symptoms of the virus are similar to dengue and are characterized by fever, nausea, vomiting and possible brain inflammation. It more often infects animals like rats, but the virus has mutated to infect larger animals like donkeys and horses, as well as thousands of humans.

Where it is: It’s mainly found in South and Central America, but the virus does have a history of making its way into the U.S.

Worry factor: Like all viruses, the concern is that Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus will mutate to more easily spread to people in urban settings.

Elizabethkingia
What it does to humans: Elizabethkingia is a type of bacteria that is hard to treat with antibiotics and is often resistant to them. Symptoms are fever, shortness of breath, chills and sometimes death.

Where it is: At least 17 people in Wisconsin died after being infected with the bacteria, which has sickened more than 50 people in that state and one in Michigan. Infections have been reported in 12 counties in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee.

Worry factor: Authorities are currently investigating the outbreak. Health experts have not confirmed whether Elizabethkingia caused the deaths, since all the people involved had underlying health conditions, though the situation is worrying.



 Uganda hit by rift valley fever [The Africa Report, Mar 14, 2016]

By Godfrey Olukya
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The Western Uganda region has been hit by an outbreak of the deadly Rift Valley fever, health officials have warned.

Tests for the disease were carried out late last week after people in some parts of western Uganda cited a strange disease, which has led to four deaths.

Health specialists in the ministry of health say the Rift Valley fever has symptoms similar to Ebola, as they are both haemorrhagic diseases.

The most affected place, according to the ministry of health, is Kabale district, 350 kilometres west of the capital, Kampala.

Confirming the outbreak on Suday, health ministry permanent secretary, Asuman Lukwago said "it is true, there is an outbreak of Rift Valley fever in Kabale district, in western Uganda. Measures are already in place to control it".

Kabale district health officer, Patrick Tusiime said at least two people, aged 48 and 16 have tested positive for the disease at a Uganda virus research institute after they were taken to hospital last Thursday.

Another doctor from the ministry of health, Andrew Kibazo said Rift Valley fever is caused by Aedes mosquito and is a haemorrhagic fever.

"It is a haemorrhagic fever, which primarily affects animals, but is easily transmitted to human beings through direct contact with the blood or organs of infected domestic animals," he explained.

Kibazo said patients infected by the disease suffer from high fever, severe headaches, bleeding from the nose, ears and anus, alongside haemorrhagic headaches and anorexia.

The ministry of health has, however, advised Ugandans not to panic because the situation is under control.

Nipah in Bangladesh



 Investigating Rare Risk Factors for Nipah Virus in Bangladesh: 2001-2012. [Ecohealth. Oct 13 2016]

by Sonia T. HegdeHossain M. S. SazzadM. Jahangir HossainMahbub-Ul AlamEben KenahPeter DaszakPierre RollinMahmudur RahmanStephen P. LubyEmily S. Gurley

Abstract
Human Nipah encephalitis outbreaks have been identified almost yearly in Bangladesh since 2001. Though raw date palm sap consumption and person-to-person contact are recognized as major transmission pathways, alternative pathways of transmission are plausible and may not have been identified due to limited statistical power in each outbreak. We conducted a risk factor analysis using all 157 cases and 632 controls surveyed in previous investigations during 2004-2012 to identify exposures independently associated with Nipah, since date palm sap was first asked about as an exposure in 2004. To further explore possible rare exposures, we also conducted in-depth interviews with all cases, or proxies, since 2001 that reported no exposure to date palm sap or contact with another case. Cases were 4.9 (95% 3.2-7.7) times more likely to consume raw date palm sap and 7.3 (95% 4.0-13.4) times more likely to have contact with a Nipah case than controls. In-depth interviews revealed that 39/182 (21%) of Nipah cases reporting neither date palm sap consumption nor contact with another case were misclassified.

Prevention efforts should be focused on interventions to interrupt transmission through date palm sap consumption and person-to-person contact. Furthermore, pooling outbreak investigation data is a good method for assessing rare exposures.



 Bangladesh: No Nipah virus outbreaks reported so far this season [Outbreak News Today, April 5, 2016]

by Robert Herriman

Outbreaks of the deadly Nipah virus has been recorded almost every year in selected districts of Bangladesh since 2001.

fruit-bat.jpg
Pteropus fruit bat
Image/Video Screen Shot

Since the outbreak in Meherpur in April-May 2001, Bangladesh has seen 260 cases through 2015, including 197 deaths, for a case fatality of nearly 76 percent, according to accumulated data from the World Health Organization and the Bangladesh Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).

In addition, sporadic cases of Nipah virus encephalitis have been reported, mostly from the west and north-western regions of Bangladesh almost every year, with high mortality and constituting a public health threat.

However, in 2016 to date, no outbreaks have been reported, according to country health officials. This has prompted health officials to proclaim success with their Nipah awareness campaigns.

“Our extensive awareness program worked,” Line Director Prof Abul Khair Mohammad Shamsuzzaman said recently.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the Bangladesh and also in India outbreaks, consumption of fruits or fruit products (e.g. raw date palm juice) contaminated with urine or saliva from infected fruitbats was the most likely source of infection. Fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae – particularly species belonging to the Pteropus genus – are the natural hosts for Nipah virus. There is no apparent disease in fruit bats.

In more recent outbreaks of the disease, person-to-person transmission has been seen in Bangladesh and India.

The disease in humans can range from asymptomatic infection to fatal encephalitis. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

The case fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 75%; however, this rate can vary by outbreak depending on local capabilities for surveillance investigations, according to the WHO.

Those who survive acute encephalitis make a full recovery, but around 20% are left with residualneurologicalconsequences such as persistent convulsions and personality changes.
There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals.

Nipah virus was first detected in Malaysia in 1998 but at present Bangladesh, a hotspot for infectious diseases, is the only country in the world that reports the disease.

Related: The World’s Deadliest Viruses
“I think our program has succeeded. People did not drink raw date sap,”Shamsuzzaman said.



 IWHO Issues List of Top Emerging Diseases Likely to Cause Major Epidemics [Infection Control Today, Dec 17, 2015]

A panel of scientists and public health experts convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) met in Geneva last week to prioritize the top five to 10 emerging pathogens likely to cause severe outbreaks in the near future, and for which few or no medical countermeasures exist. These diseases will provide the basis for work on the WHO Blueprint for R&D preparedness to help control potential future outbreaks.

The initial list of disease priorities needing urgent R&D attention are: Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease and Marburg, Lassa fever, MERS and SARS coronavirus diseases, Nipah and Rift Valley fever. The list will be reviewed annually or when new diseases emerge.

This priority list forms the backbone of the new WHO Blueprint for R&D preparedness by focusing accelerated R&D on dangerous pathogens which are the most prone to generate epidemics. As well as advocating for the initiation or enhancement of the R&D process to develop diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for the five to 10 diseases, the Blueprint will also consider behavioral interventions, and filling critical gaps in scientific knowledge to allow the design of better disease control measures.

The group of experts who developed the list represented a range of disciplines, including virology, microbiology, immunology, public health, clinical medicine, mathematical and computational modelling, product development, and respiratory and severe emerging infections.

The conclusions of the experts were reviewed by the Blueprint’s independent Scientific Advisory Group.

Future action in this area includes fine-tuning of the prioritization methodology and the development of practical tools to assess any new diseases that may emerge.

Three other diseases were designated as serious, requiring action by WHO to promote R&D as soon as possible: chikungunya, severe fever with thrombocytopaenia syndrome, and Zika.

Other diseases with epidemic potential -- such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, avian influenza and dengue -- were not included in the list because there are major disease control and research networks for these infections, and an existing pipeline for improved interventions.

Source: WHO



 Nipah in Bangladesh [HealthMap, Apr 12, 2015]

by Colleen Nguyen

Nipah.jpg
Flickr: Microbe World

According to the Bangladesh Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), as of February 2015, nine cases of Nipah virus have been recorded across the country [1]. The reported cases stem from six districts – Nilphamari, Faridpur, Magura, Ponchoghor, Naugaon, and Rajbari [1]. Case analysis reveals that 56% of recent cases have been male, with the median age across those infected, as 15 years of age [1].

A History of Nipah Virus
Nipah virus (NiV) was isolated and identified for the first time in 1998, when pig farmers and individuals who had close contact with pigs, became ill with encephalitis and respiratory illness in Malaysia and Singapore [2,3]. The first outbreak took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia – a location for which the virus would be named after [3]. The first outbreak produced only mild disease in pigs, but resulted in approximately 300 human cases, with 100 fatalities [2]. Case fatality for Nipah in general is estimated to be between 40% to 75%. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that this rate may vary depending on surveillance capacities involved in the outbreaks [1]. Since the first outbreak, there have been no intermediate hosts associated with subsequent outbreaks – that is, no pigs were linked to human infections. A CDC study discovered that human infections have been due to the consumption of virus-contaminated date palm sap [3,4].

NiV is part of the family Paramyxoviridae, within the genus Henipavirus [2]. Scientists have since traced NiV back to Indian flying foxes, a type of fruit bat found across southern Asia [4]. Date palm sap happens to be a delicacy sought after by both bats and humans [4]. The sap is collected from date palm tree trunks. The trees are tapped using machetes and the flowing sap collected into clay pots overnight [4]. At night, when the bats forage for food, they sometimes drink the sweet sap collected in the pots, and subsequently contaminate the sap with NiV through their bodily fluids, such as saliva, feces, or urine [4]. The unknowingly-contaminated sap is then sold at markets, where direct consumption of NiV results in the spread of the virus through local populations [4].

Preventive Measures
There is no treatment or vaccine for NiV, so preventive measures are of critical importance for protection against infection [1]. Cooking or fermenting palm sap can destroy the virus, but most sap sold at markets is often sold and consumed raw [4]. Therefore, avoiding palm sap completely can prevent NiV infection. Additionally, people can avoid exposure with ill pigs and bats in areas considered to be endemic with NiV [5]. Efforts that include enhanced surveillance systems, increased public awareness, and interventions including the use of bamboo screens on top of the palm sap pots, can also prevent future outbreaks [5,6].
---
Sources

[1] ☞ [1]  

[2] ☞ [2]  

[3] ☞ [3]  

[4] ☞ [4]  

[5] ☞ [5]  

[6] ☞ [6]  



 Bangladesh reports nine Nipah virus cases to date in 2015 [Outbreak News Today, Apr 5, 2015]

by Robert Herriman

The Bangladesh Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has reported a total of nine human Nipah virus cases this year as of Feb. 2015. Of the nine cases, health officials report six fatalities, or a 67% case-fatality rate.

fruit-bat.jpg
Pteropus fruit bat
Image/Video Screen Shot

These cases are from 6 different districts. The districts are: Nilphamari, Ponchoghor, Faridpur, Magura, Naugaon, Rajbari. Median age of the Nipah cases 13 years (Range: 2 to 45 years). 5 (56%) were male.

One cluster was identified in Naugaon, consists of three Nipah encephalitis cases, according to the IEDCR. Of these two are laboratory confirmed cases. Numbers of isolated cases are 6.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the Bangladesh and India outbreaks, consumption of fruits or fruit products (e.g. raw date palm juice) contaminated with urine or saliva from infected fruitbats was the most likely source of infection. Fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae – particularly species belonging to the Pteropus genus – are the natural hosts for Nipah virus. There is no apparent disease in fruit bats.

In more recent outbreaks of the disease, person-to-person transmission has been seen in Bangladesh and India.

Related: What is Nipah virus?
The disease in humans can range from asymptomatic infection to fatal encephalitis. Encephalitis and seizures occur in severe cases, progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours.

The case fatality rate is estimated at 40% to 75%; however, this rate can vary by outbreak depending on local capabilities for surveillance investigations, according to the WHO.

Those who survive acute encephalitis make a full recovery, but around 20% are left with residualneurological consequences such as persistent convulsions and personality changes.

There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals.

Nipah virus was first detected in Malaysia in 1998 but at present Bangladesh, a hotspot for infectious diseases, is the only country in the world that reports the disease.



 Bats spreading deadly virus, Stanford scientist warns [Stanford Report, Sep 6, 2013]

BY ROB JORDAN
The Nipah virus, spread by bats, is killing people in Southeast Asia and could pose the threat of a global pandemic, says Stanford's Stephen Luby.


Video courtesy of Hossain MS Sazzad ☞ Bats spreading deadly virus, Stanford scientist warns  

Bats transmit the Nipah virus to humans through date palm sap, which the bats are known to lick.

It usually starts with a fever and headache, maybe some coughing and a disoriented feeling. Before long, inflammation of the veins, arteries and brain sets in, a seizure takes hold and you lose consciousness. Seven out of 10 cases end in death. Of those who survive, one-third have permanent, crippling neurological disorders.

That's the fate of people unlucky enough to be infected with the Nipah virus in Bangladesh, where outbreaks occur in most years. People outside Southeast Asia have reason to be concerned too, according to Stephen Luby, a Stanford professor of medicine. If the virus adapts to more efficient human-to-human transmission, "then in our globally connected world, humanity could face its most devastating pandemic," Luby writes in a commentary published in the journal Antiviral Research.

To avoid this outcome, Luby, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, suggests a range of measures.

Discovered in 1999, Nipah can be traced to Pteropus bats, which carry the virus but are immune to it. In Bangladesh, these bats transmit the virus to humans through raw date palm sap, which the bats are known to lick and urinate in as it is harvested for human consumption. Children love the treat with puffed rice in the morning.

Sustained person-to-person transmission of Nipah through contact with bodily secretions has been limited so far. Still, there is significant cause for concern that Nipah could spread faster and wider. Pteropus bats roam over a range stretching from Pakistan across South and Southeast Asia, up the coast of Southern China and down into Australia. Climate change and other environmental factors could expand the bats' range.

Among Nipah's worrisome traits: Many strains are capable of limited person-to-person transmission, and it is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, which has the highest known rate of mutation among biological agents. If a more efficient human-adapted strain developed, it could spread rapidly in highly populous South Asia before spilling into other regions.

The global community must do a better job of estimating and managing the risk, Luby said. That will require stepped-up study of how the virus is transmitted, closer observation of infected people and consideration of vaccinations for at-risk communities.

Rich countries need to help improve poor countries' health care systems – specifically, making sure health care workers have access to protection such as gloves and hand washing – to help prevent spread, Luby said. In densely populated Bangladesh, health care providers who treat Nipah patients typically lack gloves and masks, while patient attendants often lack soap and water for hand washing.

Beyond stopping the spread of Nipah, such measures would reduce the risk of influenza and other disease pandemics, according to Luby. "I think it important that taxpayers in the U.S. recognize that investments in prevention in low-income, high-risk countries can protect their own lives."

Rob Jordan is the communications writer for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

MEDIA CONTACT
Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: (650) 721-1881, rjordan@stanford.edu

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965, dstober@stanford.edu



 Outbreak of deadly Nipah virus [IRIN news, Feb 13, 2012]


An outbreak of the Nipah virus in northern Bangladesh has killed 30 people since the start of 2011, prompting national health warnings against the fatal pathogen spread by fruit bats. Everyone who got infected, died.
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“Only by stopping the consumption of the raw sap, can this disease be stopped. Despite our many attempts at raising awareness, people are ignoring the warnings and as a result, are getting infected,” warned Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Haque.

Palm tree sap, often served fresh, is a popular drink in rural areas.

Six people from the northern Joypurhat District have died thus far in 2012 and 24 during the same period in 2011.

“In the last two years, the mortality rate has been 100 percent. Once the disease sets in, nothing much can be done,” Mahmudur Rahman, director of the non-governmental Dhaka-based Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told IRIN.

Named after the Malaysian village where the disease cross-over from pigs to humans was first discovered, Nipah virus (NiV) was diagnosed in people in 1998 in Malaysia and Singapore, then 2001 in Bangladesh.

Since then there have been 10 outbreaks in Bangladesh, killing 157 of 208 infected persons, according to IEDCR.

Flu-like symptoms include fever and muscle pain. Brain tissue inflammation (encephalitis) may follow, which can lead to disorientation, coma and death.

According to scientists from IEDCR and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, the primary reservoir for the NiV is fruit bats.

Infected bats’ droppings, urine and saliva contaminate fruit trees, mostly date palms in Bangladesh.

Humans become infected when they drink contaminated raw sap or fruits, or come into contact with infected animals.

Ninety percent of infected people from 1998-2008 were pig farmers or had come into contact with infected pigs, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Medical studies have reported possible human-to-human transmission through sneezing, coughing and body fluids.

Prevalent from December to May, NiV infections have appeared in 10 districts in the north. Scientists are unclear why the north has been hardest hit.

There is “strong evidence” that destruction of bats’ natural habitats is behind the re-emergence of NiV infections in humans, notes WHO.

There is no treatment or vaccine available yet for either people or animals, though a vaccine is under development.



 Fresh outbreak of Nipah virus in Bangladesh [IRIN news, Feb 5, 2013]


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Health experts in Bangladesh have reported a fresh outbreak of the Nipah virus, with 10 deaths in the past few weeks. If infected you have a high chance of dying.

“The fatality rate is an astounding 77 percent,” ASM Alamgir, a virologist at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told IRIN.

Since the deadly pathogen appeared in Bangladesh 12 years ago, 188 cases and 146 deaths have been reported; including 12 infections and 10 deaths so far in 2013. The virus is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans.

Infection is caused by the consumption of the raw sap of a date palm tree which has been contaminated with urine or saliva from infected fruit bats. When the sap is consumed, the virus infects the human body. Once infected, the patient can spread the virus to other people through physical contact, health experts say.

Winter (December to early February) is the traditional date palm sap gathering season in
Bangladesh and the raw sap is a popular drink in rural areas. The outbreak coincides with this season, appearing between December and May.

Traditionally outbreaks have taken place in a group of 10 districts (Meherpur, Noagoan, Rajbari, Faridpur, Tangail, Thakurgaon, Kushtia, Manikgonj, Rajshahi, and Lalmonirhat) known as the “Nipah belt”. However, Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, reported its first victim in January.

“Although the sap was brought from Mymensingh [District], it was consumed in Dhaka. This is the first case of a Nipah-related death in the city,” said Alamgir.

The most recent death was of an 11-month-old baby in the port city of Chittagong on 4 February.

Government response
With no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals, prevention and public awareness are key, health experts say.

“The only effective way of preventing the Nipah outbreaks is to stop people from drinking raw date palm sap. Awareness remains quite low, and as this is a popular drink the risk is constant,” said Ferdousi Begum, a specialist and assistant professor at Dhaka Medical College.

“To prevent this practice, the government has undertaken awareness-raising campaigns through newspaper advertisements, talk shows and discussions on local TV,” said Alamgir. “We have to observe the entire season to understand the severity of the current outbreak,” he said, noting there were currently five monitoring centres (Rangpur, Rajshahi, Bogura, Faridpur, Rajbari) within the Nipah belt, as well as two more in Chittagong and Sylhet, allowing any diagnosed cases to be quickly reported back to Dhaka.

According to World Health Organization, although the Nipah virus has caused only a few outbreaks, it can infect a wide range of animals and causes severe illness (characterized by inflammation of the brain - encephalitis - or respiratory diseases) and death in people, making it a public health concern.

The Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia.

Since then, there have been more than 12 outbreaks, all in South Asia.

Research on a new vaccine, based on trials with monkeys, is promising, US and Canadian researchers report.


Zoonotic H1N1 or H3N2 Flu update




 Study Finds Earlier Flu Peak for H1N1 in Swine Production Areas [The Pig Site, Nov 10, 2016]

US - A new study looking at the risk of flu in people through swine contact has found that the flu peak for H1N1 in swine production areas was early in the year.

Covering four consecutive flu seasons between 2008 and 2012, the team examined spatiotemporal relationships between swine production and human flu for all 100 of North Carolina counties.

The state is the nation's second largest swine producer and is home to nearly 10 million pigs.
Flu activity peaked earlier during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons, both of which were dominated by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain. The team didn't see the same association in seasons before and after those two seasons when swine-derived flu viruses weren't circulating.

Concentrated swine-feeding operations amplified flu transmission when H1N1 was circulating, researchers said.

However, they theorized that the finding might not be related to swine, but perhaps to other factors, such as other disease-driving dynamics—such as high-population density—in more urban areas. They wrote that the findings suggest a benefit for vaccine strategies that target swine workers and underscore the importance of virus surveillance in areas with high concentrations of swine production.



 Cases of New Swine Flu Virus Found in Ohio and Michigan [ContagionLive, Nov 10, 2015]

Local agricultural fairs offer a family-friendly outing to celebrate regional farmers, but exposure to farm animals at these fairs can also create an avenue leading to illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently identified a new type of swine flu in people in two states, which they’ve linked back to state fair attendance.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) offers a weekly roundup of news on public health from the agency. Their report for the week of October 28th details findings from their investigation of 18 swine flu cases contracted in July and August, which were first reported to the CDC by the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Laboratory. A respiratory specimen from a 13-year-old boy in Ohio taken in late July was tested using real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and came up positive for an influenza A (H3N2) variant, a swine flu that typically infects swine populations and occasionally causes illness in humans. Soon after, Michigan health officials reported finding the same H3N2 variant in a 9-year-old child. Both cases were linked to visits to local agricultural fairs, where the children came into contact with pig exhibits believed to have transmitted the swine flu. By August 25th, health officials identified and reported a total of 18 cases resulting from two H3N2 variant viruses. Of those infected, 13 people had come in direct contact with pigs through touching or handling, while five had only indirect contact such as passing through a barn. Of those who fell ill, 16 were children, seven of whom were under the age of 5. One person was hospitalized, and all had full recoveries.

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the human seasonal flu, including fever, coughing, and sore throat. The largest known outbreak of an H3N2 variant virus occurred in 2012, though there were only 343 reported cases from 2011 to 2014. Swine flu does not typically infect humans, but the virus is more likely to spread from human-to-human when it undergoes genetic reassortment, which consists of combining genes of viruses from different species. In the recent 18 cases reported in Ohio and Michigan, the CDC identified 16 reassortments of swine and human viruses in a combination of genes that had not been previously found in H3N2 variants infecting humans. The report notes that the hemagglutinin gene found in the swine flu virus is a human gene likely introduced to swine in 2010 or 2011, and that this new reassortment has likely been circulating and evolving in pig populations since then, making the recently discovered virus genetically and antigenically different from the H3N2 virus currently circulating and causing seasonal illness.

“Influenza viruses are constantly evolving and are unpredictable so we cannot say with certainty that we will detect this same virus in humans again,” said Rebekah Stewart Schicker, MSN, MPH, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the CDC, noting that variant viruses can also come from swine that people keep on their property. “However, our previous experience tells us that new variant viruses usually circulate for more than one year so it is likely that we will see this virus emerge again in the following years.” Schicker noted that the CDC continually tracks influenza activity through surveillance with public health and clinical laboratories, outpatient healthcare providers, hospitals, state health departments, and other agencies.

The recent cases underscore the importance of taking precautionary measures around swine and their environments to prevent such influenza outbreaks. The new MMWR report emphasizes that agricultural fair organizers should take preventive steps to protect the public, including limiting the time that swine are on the fairgrounds, keeping ill swine isolated, having an on-call veterinarian, offering handwashing stations, and prohibiting food and beverages in animal barns. For people who may come in contact with swine, the CDC recommends the following safety measures:

For People with High Risk Factors:
• Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications planning to attend a setting where pigs will be present should avoid pigs and swine barns.
• People who are at high risk of serious flu complications include children younger than 5 years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions (such as asthma and other lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions).

For People Not at High Risk:
• Don’t take food or drink into pig areas; don’t eat, drink or put anything in your mouth in pig areas.
• Don’t take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items into pig areas.
• Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
• Take protective measures if you must come in contact with pigs that are known or suspected to be sick; this includes minimizing contact with pigs and wearing personal protective equipment like protective clothing, gloves, and masks that cover your mouth and nose when contact is required.
• Wash your hands often with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• To further reduce the risk of infection, minimize contact with pigs in the pig barn and arenas.
• Watch your pig (if you have one) for illness. Call a veterinarian if illness is suspected.
• Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu symptoms. Wait to have contact with pigs until 7 days after your illness started or until you have been without fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer. If you must have contact with pigs while you are sick, take the protective actions listed above.




 Odisha asks health officials to prepare for H1N1 influenza [ODISHA Sun Times, Nov 6, 2016]


arti-ahuja.png


The Odisha government has asked its Chief District Medical Officers (CDMOs) to remain prepared to deal with the H1N1 influenza in the state, said an official on Sunday.

“In view of the coming transmission season and behaviour of Influenza A H1N1 in recent past, the health administration needs to remain prepared in terms of infrastructure, logistics and trained personnel,” said Health Secretary Arti Ahuja in a letter to the CDMOs.

During the year 2015, it was observed that a large number of death cases were reported across the country due to seasonal influenza which was more than the number recorded during the time of pandemic, said Ahuja.

A total of 75 cases with 13 deaths were reported in Odisha in 2015 while in the year 2016, only one case has been reported so far, she added.

In another letter, the Health Secretary asked the CDMOs to take steps to eliminate vector-borne disease dengue.

“The state experienced an explosive outbreak of dengue during monsoon period, particularly in industrial and urban areas of the state. Though it is a fact that the incidence has declined considerably, sporadic cases are still being reported from rural areas of different districts,” Ahuja said. (IANS)



 Swine Flu Epidemic Linked to State Fair Pigs [Daily Hornet, Oct 28, 2016]

by Ray Simon

Pig H2N3.jpg


CDC Show pigs are responsible for an outbreak of swine flu that sickened at least 18 people — 16 of them children — who attended agricultural fairs in Michigan and Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC said all 18 patients reported some exposure to pigs at state fairs before falling ill. At least 13 people said they’d directly handled a pig, four reported visiting a swine barn, and one patient claimed indirect contact without specifying details.

All 18 patients — seven of whom were younger than 5-years-old — fully recovered, although two people required hospitalization to treat their symptoms.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by the type A influenza virus that causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. The illness does not typically affect humans; however, in rare cases, outbreaks of human infection have occurred. When a flu virus that is normally found in pigs occurs in humans, it is referred to as a variant virus.

CDC found two H3N2 variant viruses in samples gathered from the 18 people sickened in the recent outbreak. Sixteen were classified as “reassortant,” meaning they include a mix of gene segments from both human viruses and swine viruses.

Researchers expressed concern with the reassortment samples, as genes from a human origin may make the virus resistant to antiviral medications and more likely to be transferred from person-to-person. However, there was no evidence of swine flu being transmitted between humans in the recent outbreak.

“This has occurred ever since man, fowl and swine closely interacted with each other,” said Dr. Greg Poland, director of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic. “In the past, this would have never been detected. No one would have understood that it had happened, and life would go on.”

However, despite the growing awareness that animals can transmit influenza and other viruses to humans, Poland feels that most people are still relatively uninformed of the risks and fail to take necessary precautions.

“Recognize that these animals carry influenza viruses — they’re the source of them — and so appropriate hand hygiene is important,” Poland said. “Kids need to have their hands washed well.”

Additional steps to avoid infections include:
• After petting an animal, do not eat until you’ve washed your hands or used hand sanitizer.
• Avoid putting your hands on your face or in your mouth while at the fair.
• Don’t eat or drink while in barn areas.
• People at high risk for infection — the elderly, pregnant women and people undergoing chemotherapy — should avoid entering swine barns.
• If your child becomes sick after the fair and does not get better, seek immediate medical attention.
• Make sure all family members who are 6-months-old or older get annual flu shots.

Source: CNN



 Pigs at Fairs Gave More than a Dozen Children Swine Flu, CDC Says [TIME, Oct 28, 2016]

by Melissa Chan

pig-swine-flu.jpg


The type of swine flu they contracted had not been previously seen in humans

Pigs are to blame for more than a dozen children falling ill with a new type of swine flu earlier this year, federal health officials said Thursday.

All 18 people, including 16 children, were sickened after coming into close contact with pigs at family-friendly agricultural fairs in Michigan and Ohio in August, CNN reported, citing a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infected patients, who have since fully recovered, said they either touched a pig or passed through a barn that had pigs.

The type of swine flu they contracted had not been previously seen in humans, the CDC said.
[CNN]



 Kids get swine flu from pigs at state fairs, CDC reports [CNN News, Oct 28, 2016]

By Susan Scutti, CNN

Story highlights
The CDC confirmed variant swine flu viruses in 18 people in August
Two patients were hospitalized, but all recovered fully

(CNN)Pigs at family-friendly fairs are responsible for infecting children with a type of swine flu not previously seen in humans, according to a report published by Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In August, the CDC confirmed variant swine flu viruses in 18 people -- 16 of them children -- who attended agricultural fairs in Michigan and Ohio.

When a flu virus that normally circulates in pigs is found in a person, it is called a variant virus.

The largest known outbreak of this same virus, referred to as influenza A (H3N2), occurred in 2012.

Before falling sick in August, all 18 patients reported at least some exposure to pigs at agricultural fairs. Thirteen individuals said they'd directly touched or handled a pig, and four reported passing through a swine barn. One patient claimed indirect contact without specifying the details.

Though one individual had to be hospitalized, all of the patients, seven of whom were younger than 5, recovered fully.

The researchers found no evidence that the viruses had been transmitted from person to person.

Genetic surveillance

The CDC looked at all the samples from the 18 infected people.

Genetic investigations "can tell us how flu viruses are 'related' to one another, how flu viruses are evolving, and they can suggest how well an influenza flu vaccine might protect against a particular influenza virus," said Rebekah Stewart Schicker, an author of the study and an epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC. "They may also detect adaptations that could enhance the ability of the virus to infect humans," she added in an email.

The CDC genome sequencing analysis identified two H3N2 variant viruses. Sixteen were "reassortant," meaning they include gene segments from human viruses as well as swine viruses.

This "is a little concerning," said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's vaccine research group. One of the genes, "being of human origin, puts that virus in a position where it is more likely to be transmitted from human to human." This same gene may also make the flu resistant to a class of antiviral drugs, including amantadine and rimantadine.

Overall, is this discovery of previously undetected viruses a cause for fear?

"This has occurred ever since man, fowl and swine closely interacted with each other," said
Poland, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He explained that only recently have scientists understood the importance of surveillance. "In the past, this would have never been detected. No one would have understood that it had happened, and life would go on."

Still, Poland says the new report serves as a reminder that "people are relatively uninformed about the origin of these variant and novel viruses, and because of that, they fail to take the necessary precautions."

Know before you go

What should you know before going to a fair, a petting zoo or anyplace where you come into contact with waterfowl, birds or swine?

"Recognize that these animals carry influenza viruses -- they're the source of them -- and so appropriate hand hygiene is important," Poland said. "Kids need to have their hands washed well."

After petting an animal, children should not eat until they wash their hands or, at the very least, use hand sanitizer, although it is less effective than a thorough hand washing. Everyone should also avoid putting their hands on their face or in their mouth while at the fair, he added.

Schicker and her co-authors recommend that fair organizers take steps to prevent infections in humans, including limiting the time pigs are on the fairgrounds to 72 hours or less, keeping a veterinarian on call for the duration of the exhibition, placing hand-washing stations nearby and discouraging consumption of food and drink in barn areas.

If your child becomes sick after the fair and does not get better, seek medical care.

Most important, Poland said, make sure family members who are 6 months and older get annual flu shots, as recommended by the CDC.

The vaccine will not prevent someone who picks up a variant virus from an animal from getting sick. Instead, it "might help prevent future reassortment of H3N2v viruses with human seasonal influenza viruses," according to Schicker. By getting a flu shot, you help stop these variant viruses from spreading widely and also help decrease the number of new viruses.

And anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including older adults, pregnant women and people on chemotherapy, should not enter swine barns.

In the end, Poland finds the new report a source of comfort rather than fear. The report indicates that the CDC is aware of these variant viruses and "keeping an eye on this," he said.

"It's reassuring we have a surveillance method intact that works and the nation's notified about this."



 Panama H1N1 outbreak: Health minister Terrientes resigns as death toll rises [Outbreak News Today, Jun 15, 2016]

by Robert Herrima

In a follow-up to the H1N1 influenza outbreak in Panama, which the government recently declared a national health alert, エラー! ハイパーリンクの参照に誤りがあります。 that Panamanian Health Minister Francisco Javier Terrientes submitted his resignation, according to sources close to President Juan Carlos Varela.

Panama_map.png
Panama map/CIA

Terrientes replacement has already bee chosen–Deputy health minister, Miguel Mayo.

The outbreak has resulted in 22 deaths and 671 hospitalizations due to the virus. Approximately half remain admitted and 38 are in intensive care.

Influenza-related fatalities have been reported from West Panama, Colon, David, Santiago, San Miguelito and Aguadulce.

Panama’s government has announced it would make nearly one million more doses of A(H1N1) vaccines available by next week.

Related:
• Zika in the US Virgin Islands: Additional cases reported in St. Croix and St. Thomas
• ‘There is a very low risk of further international spread of Zika virus as a result of the Olympics’: WHO committee
• Puerto Rico: 1500 confirmed Zika virus cases, ‘It is imperative to continue to bring the message of prevention’



 H1N1 dominates mild 2015-2016 flu season [Healio Infectious Disease News, Apr 1, 2016]

The 2015-2016 influenza season has been milder than the previous three seasons and appears to have peaked later than normal, according to the CDC.

“It looks like March will have been the peak for this season,” Lynnette Brammer, MPH, epidemiologist for the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team, told Infectious Disease News.

However, because influenza viruses can circulate year-round in the United States, Brammer said people should continue to get vaccinated. According to the latest data, this season’s vaccine has been much more effective than the vaccine from last season, and several indicators of influenza activity are down.

“Even if we’ve already peaked and are headed down,” Brammer said, “there’s still several more weeks of fairly good flu activity probably to come.”

It would be just the third time in the last 19 years that influenza season peaked in March, according to Brammer. The most common month for peak activity is February, she said.

“We’ve never had an April peak, so it’s a bit later than normal,” she said. “The previous three seasons, though, were earlier than normal. They all had a December peak.”

Flu-related hospitalizations, pediatric deaths decline
Influenza A (H1N1) viruses have been the most prevalent this season, according to Brammer.

29bb257d6e4ef134ae78a97cdde200d5.jpg


From Oct. 4 through March 26, 478,384 specimens were tested at clinical laboratories, and 9.4% were positive for influenza, according to CDC data. Influenza A virus accounted for 74.5% of the positive tests.

At public health laboratories, 75.4% of the 51,779 specimens tested as of March 26 were positive for influenza A, predominantly of the (H1N1)pdm09 subtype (80.5%). Public health laboratories do not report the percentage of overall positive specimens because they often receive samples from clinical labs that have already tested positive for influenza, according to the CDC.

“The proportion of positive tests at clinical labs is a more accurate reflection of what is actually going on out there,” Erin Burns, CDC spokeswoman, told Infectious Disease News.
As of March 26, the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) tracked 5,915 laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations since Oct. 1 resulting from influenza, or 21.4 per 100,000 people — a sharp decline from the same time last season, when the rate was 60.7 per 100,000 people. (The cases tracked by FluSurv-NET represent just a small fraction of actual hospitalizations.)

Adults aged 65 years or older had the highest rate of influenza-associated hospitalization at 54.5 per 100,000 people, followed by adults aged 50 to 64 years (31.4 per 100,000) and children aged 0 to 4 years (29.3 per 100,000).

Among all hospitalizations resulting from influenza, 79.6% were associated with influenza A. Of the specimens with subtype information, A (H1N1)pdm09 was predominant (90.1%).

As of March 26, there were 33 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported to the CDC — far fewer than in each of the past three seasons, when they ranged from 111 to 171.

“Flu causes serious illnesses and deaths every year,” Joseph Bresee, MD, chief of CDC’s epidemiology and prevention branch, said in a recent statement. “This season, CDC has received reports of hospitalizations and deaths in young, otherwise healthy people who were infected with influenza A (H1N1), but not vaccinated.”

Vaccine 59% successful this season
In a preliminary report in late February, the CDC said the 2015-2016 influenza vaccine showed 59% effectiveness — much greater than last season.

“This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60%,” Bresee said at the time. “It’s good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season.”

More specifically, the CDC noted that the 2015-2016 vaccine was 51% effective against the H1N1 subtype of influenza A, 76% effective against all influenza B viruses and 79% effective against the B/Yamagata lineage of B viruses.

Last season’s influenza vaccine was only 23% effective, chiefly because the majority of circulating influenza A (H3N2) viruses — the most prevalent subtype — did not match the vaccine’s H3N2 component.

The components of next season’s influenza vaccine already have been determined. On March 4, the FDA committee in charge of vaccines adopted WHO’s recommendations in a unanimous vote. WHO has recommended the trivalent influenza vaccine contain A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. It recommended that quadrivalent vaccines also should include B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. – by Gerard Gallagher



 Odisha asks health officials to prepare for H1N1 influenza November 6, 2016 [India Live Today, Nov 6, 2016]


Bhubaneswar, Nov 6 (IANS) The Odisha government has asked its Chief District Medical Officers (CDMOs) to remain prepared to deal with the H1N1 influenza in the state, said an official on Sunday.

“In view of the coming transmission season and behaviour of Influenza A H1N1 in recent past, the health administration needs to remain prepared in terms of infrastructure, logistics and trained personnel,” said Health Secretary Arti Ahuja in a letter to the CDMOs.

During the year 2015, it was observed that a large number of death cases were reported across the country due to seasonal influenza which was more than the number recorded during the time of pandemic, said Ahuja.

A total of 75 cases with 13 deaths were reported in Odisha in 2015 while in the year 2016, only one case has been reported so far, she added.

In another letter, the Health Secretary asked the CDMOs to take steps to eliminate vector-borne disease dengue.

“The state experienced an explosive outbreak of dengue during monsoon period, particularly in industrial and urban areas of the state. Though it is a fact that the incidence has declined considerably, sporadic cases are still being reported from rural areas of different districts,” Ahuja said.




 Over 1,000 Deaths from H1N1 Outbreak in Brazil [The Disease Daily, Jul 12, 2016]

By Kara Sewalk

As of July 1st, 2016, the Ministry of Health in Brazil confirmed that there have been 1,233 deaths linked to the ongoing H1N1 influenza outbreak in the country [1].

By comparison, the years of 2014 and 2015 saw only 163 and 36 deaths from H1N1 influenza, respectively. The vast proportion of the deaths this year has emerged from the region of Sao Paolo, where 517 deaths were reported. Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, has the second highest proportion of influenza deaths -- 142. Other strains of influenza have claimed an additional 93 lives in Brazil. Complications from H1N1 infection include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), of which 6,569 have been registered across the country [1].
This is the largest outbreak of H1N1 influenza in Brazil since the 2009 pandemic, where the country saw 2,060 deaths from the virus [1].

Rising rates of H1N1 deaths sparked the Ministry of Health in Brazil to conduct a mass vaccination campaign to prevent an influenza outbreak from April 30th to May 20th, which provided free flu shots with the aim to immunize 48.9 million people [5,2]. The typical flu season in Brazil spans during the southern hemisphere’s winter months of May to July. The Ministry of Health reported that the mass vaccination campaign reached 95.5% of its target demographic, which includes young children, pregnant women, women who recently gave birth, and the elderly. It is estimated that a total of 1.7 million people in Sao Paolo were vaccinated against influenza during the vaccination campaign [2,3]. Despite a successful mass vaccination campaign, the H1N1 outbreak has continued to rise, bringing the reported death toll to 1,233 to date.

In April 2016, the BBC reported that there had been 230 deaths due to H1N1 influenza in Brazil [3]. However, rates have significantly increased in recent weeks, with as many as 122 deaths from H1N1 influenza occurring over the course of one week [4]. There is no clear explanation yet as to why this phenomenon is happening, however there is a suspicion that the outbreak could be attributed to increased travel to and from Brazil over the past year [5].

Additionally, there remains sparse information regarding this year’s H1N1 outbreak, despite its scale and fatality rate – across both English language media outlets and media outlets within Brazil. There is a severe lack of sources that contain detail about why the H1N1 outbreak is occurring.

Panama, another Latin American country, has also experienced a major H1N1 outbreak this year, and has declared a national health alert with a reported 22 deaths and 671 hospitalizations from H1N1 influenza infection. This occurred in the midst of Panamanian Health Minister Francisco Javier Terrientes’ resignation [6].

The results of the H1N1 influenza outbreak in Brazil has the potential to impact the 2016 Olympic Games, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in only a few short weeks. To date, Rio de Janeiro has registered 47 deaths from the H1N1 outbreak [1]. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all travelers to the Olympic Games be up to date with routine vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine [7].
---
Sources
[1] ☞ [1]  

[2] ☞ [2]  

[3] ☞ [3]  

[4] ☞ [4]  

[5] ☞ [5]  

[6] ☞ [6]  


[7] ☞ [7]  



 India’s Swine Flu Virus Is Becoming More Severe and Infectious, Study Says [Time, Mar 12, 2015]

by Rishi Iyengar

The deadly virus has already infected more than 25,000 people across the South Asian nation
The swine flu outbreak in India that has already killed more than 1,400 people since December may be even more dangerous than previously thought, with a new study suggesting that the current strain of the disease’s parent H1N1 virus has mutated to become more virulent.

The study, conducted by two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and reported in Science Daily, contradicts claims by Indian health authorities that the virus has not mutated since 2009 — when it claimed over 18,000 lives worldwide over the subsequent three years.

Researchers Ram Sasisekharan and Kannan Tharakaraman compared the two influenza strains currently affecting the Indian population with the 2009 strain of H1N1 using their respective genetic sequences. They found mutations in the Indian strains in a protein called hemagglutinin, which binds with receptors on the human body’s respiratory cells. One of the mutations is linked to increased severity of the disease, while another enhances its infectiousness.

“The point we’re trying to make is that there is a real need for aggressive surveillance to ensure that the anxiety and hysteria are brought down and people are able to focus on what they really need to worry about,” said Sasisekharan.

Swine flu has been on the rise in India since December, having already infected more than 25,000 people.



 India Struggles to Contain H1N1 Outbreak as Death Toll Hits 700 November 6, 2016 [Bloomberg, Feb 20, 2015]

by Adi Narayan

India H1N1.jpg
People wait outside an H1N1 Influenza screening center at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, India on Feb. 18, 2015. Photographer: Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is urging its states to ensure sufficient supply of anti-flu medication and diagnostic tests as it struggles to curb an outbreak of H1N1 influenza that’s killed more than 700 people in the last eight weeks.

The government said on Thursday that there’s no shortage of the medicines to treat the ailment, after news reports from Jammu & Kashmir in the north to Mumbai in the west said that private chemists were running out of the drug as customers rushed to stockpile supplies. The outbreak has so far sickened more than 11,000 people, and killed 703, the Press Trust of India reported on Thursday.

More people tend to get the flu in the colder months than the rest of the year, though this year’s outbreak of H1N1 in northern India appears to be the worst since 2009.

“People are panicking because it’s very difficult to differentiate H1N1 from routine flus,” Mumbai-based chest specialist Yatin Dholakia said. “Even for doctors it’s hard. It’s difficult to say why the death rates this year are so high.”

Elderly people, pregnant women, young children, diabetics with improperly controlled sugar levels, and HIV patients are at the “highest risk” of developing complications following the flu, as their immune systems tend to be weaker.

Manisha Verma, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry did not respond to two calls and an e-mail seeking comments on the outbreak.
Second Outbreak

Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir appear to be the states worst-affected by the outbreak.

“This is the second time we are having a major outbreak,” Narendra Raval, a chest specialist in Ahmedabad in Gujarat said, comparing this year’s flu season with that in 2009. “Lot of people come in thinking they have it but very few actually have H1N1.”

The disease circulating in India now is caused by the H1N1 strain of the influenza virus, and its symptoms include high fevers, sore throat, fatigue, chills and headaches. People can acquire the disease by inhaling virus-loaded droplets ejected by a sick patient’s coughing or sneezing, or by touching infected surfaces.

The disease has been spreading rapidly. There were 5,157 reported cases with 407 deaths this year, the Health Ministry said on Feb. 11. In the following eight days, the number of cases more than doubled, the Press Trust of India reported Thursday.

Diagnostic testing services in some cities have been quick to profit on the mass panic by inflating test prices. The newly elected government in Delhi last week capped the price of the the diagnostic test at 4,500 rupees ($72), after news reports some facilities were charging twice as much, the Financial Express reported Thursday.

MERS-CoV News update



 MERS infects 3 more in Saudi Arabia [CIDRAP News, Nov 29, 2016]

by Lisa Schnirring, News Editor

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Jon Connell / Flickr cc

Today Saudi Arabia's health ministry reported three new MERS-CoV infections in men who hail from different parts of the country, as the World Health Organization (WHO) provided more details on six cases reported earlier this month, two of whom had been exposed to camels or camel milk.

New cases from 3 different cities
In its daily update today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patients are all Saudi citizens who have symptoms, including a 50-year-old from Riyadh who is in critical condition, a 78-year-old from Rejal Alma in the southwestern corner of the country who is also listed as critical, and a 59-year-old from Yanbua near the western border who is in stable condition.

None of the men are healthcare workers and all had primary sources of infection, meaning they likely weren't exposed to another patient infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The new cases lift Saudi Arabia's overall total number of cases to 1,491, which includes 618 deaths. Eleven people are still being treated for their illnesses.

WHO fleshes out six recent cases

In a related development, the WHO yesterday revealed more epidemiological information about six cases reported by Saudi Arabia between Nov 3 and Nov 10, and also noted two deaths in cases covered in other recent updates.

Camel contact and consumption of raw camel milk, known MERS-CoV risk factors, were noted for two of the patients, a 53-year-old man from Alkharj and a 52-year-old man from the city of Bahrah in Makkah region. The MOH said it has notified the agriculture ministry about the camel connections and investigations are underway.

For four of the cases, authorities still don't know how the patients contracted the virus.
Illness onsets range from Oct 26 to Nov 2. Six of the patients are men, ages 52 to 94, and one of the cases involves a 58-year-old woman. Four patients are hospitalized in critical condition, and two are listed as stable.

Two patients are from Alkharj, but there is no indication of a connection between the two. Two are from Buraidah, without an apparent connection. The other patients are from Najran and Bahrah.

Tracing of household and healthcare contacts is still ongoing for the six cases, the WHO said.

Saudi Arabia also reported two more deaths from MERS-CoV, patients whose illnesses were detailed in the WHO's Nov 11 update on the disease. They include a 41-year-old Saudi man from Buraidah and 72-year-old man from Riyadh, both of whom had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized in critical condition.

Since September 2012 when the first human MERS-CoV illnesses were detected the WHO has received 1,832 reports of lab-confirmed cases, most of them from Saudi Arabia. So far at least 651 deaths have been linked to the virus'



 WHO details recent Saudi hospital MERS cluster [CIDRAP News, Nov 11, 2016]

by Lisa Schnirring, News Editor

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sudok1/ iStock

The World Health Organization (WHO) today fleshed out details of a MERS-CoV outbreak at a hospital in Hofuf, a cluster that included four cases plus an ambulance driver who took the index patient to the hospital.

The data on the hospital outbreak is part of a report on 13 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases, 4 of them fatal, reported from the country between Oct 15 and Oct 29.

MERS-CoV is known to spread easily in hospital settings, where the virus has been responsible for several outbreaks, some of them large.

Health worker, patients among hospital cluster
The index patient is thought to be a 73-year-old Saudi man from Hofuf who started having symptoms on Oct 10 and was admitted to the hospital in stable condition 3 days later. He had a history of contact with camels and he consumed raw camel milk. His condition deteriorated and he died on Oct 18.

His ambulance driver, who had driven the patient to the hospital before the man's MERS-CoV infection was detected, is a 40-year-old man who got sick on Oct 19 and was hospitalized the following day. He is currently in stable condition in home isolation.

The other three patients in the hospital cluster are a 33-year-old female health worker who took care of the index patient and two patients who were already hospitalized for unrelated conditions. The healthcare worker's asymptomatic infection was identified during contact tracing, and she is in stable condition in home isolation.

One of the patients infected during their hospital stays is a 61-year-old Saudi man who was admitted to the hospital for catheterization the same day as the index patient and came down with symptoms 6 days later. An investigation into the epidemiological links with other MERS-CoV cases is underway, and the man is listed in stable condition.

The other patient who contacted the virus in the hospital is a 55-year-old foreign man who was admitted to the outbreak hospital on Oct 2 after having a heart attack. He started having MERS-CoV symptoms on Oct 20 while still hospitalized. He had been in critical condition when he died on Oct 22. Officials are still probing the links he had to other MERS-CoV cases.

Other cases include pair of household contacts
Of the other eight cases detailed in the WHO report, two involved contact with camels or consumption of raw camel milk, while exposure to the virus is still under investigation for five.

For all the cases with a camel connection, health officials notified the agriculture ministry, and investigations in the animals are underway.

Two of the cases are a household cluster, involving a 58-year-old foreign man who got sick while working in Arar and his 65-year-old male household contact whose symptomatic MERS-CoV infection was found during contact tracing. The younger man had underlying health conditions and died of his infection, and his household contact is hospitalized in stable condition.

The other six patients include a 41-year-old man from Buraidah who is in critical condition, a 46-year-old man from Hofuf who is in stable condition, a 72-year-old woman from Najran who is in stable condition, a 53-year-old man from Abha who died, a 47-year-old man from Buraidah who is in stable condition, and a 72-year-old man from Riyadh who is in critical condition and on a ventilator.

Since September 2012, when the virus was first detected in humans, the WHO has received 1,826 reports of MERS-CoV cases, including at least 649 deaths. Most of the cases are from Saudi Arabia, where a small but steady stream of infections is still occurring.



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia [WHO Disease outbreak news, Nov 11, 2016]

Between 15 and 29 October 2016 the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported thirteen (13) additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) including four (4) fatal cases.

A MERS outbreak has affected a hospital in Hofouf city, Al Ahssa Region. Four (4) cases are associated with this hospital outbreak. These cases are:

• A 73-year-old male reported to WHO on 15 October (believed to be the index case, see case number 13 below).

• A 33-year-old female reported to WHO on 17 October (see case number 12 below).

• A 61-year-old male reported to WHO on 21 October (see case number 7 below).

• A 55-year-old male reported to WHO on 23 October (see case number 4 below).

One additional case is also associated with the index case but not with the hospital outbreak. This case is a 40-year-old male reported to WHO on 21 October (ambulance driver who transferred the index case before he was identified as a MERS case and isolated, see case number 6 below).

A Rapid Response Team was dispatched and extensive contact tracing was initiated. A total of 27 healthcare contacts and 14 patients in the hospital were traced. Elective admissions have been suspended at the center, and necessary prevention and control measures put in place.
Details of the cases

• A 41-year-old male national living in Buridah city, Qassim Region. He developed symptoms on 12 October and was admitted to hospital on 27 October. The patient who has comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 28 October. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors is ongoing. Currently the patient is in critical condition admitted to ICU but not on mechanical ventilation.

• A 65-year-old male non-national living in Arar city, Northern border Region. He developed symptoms on 24 October and was admitted to hospital on 25 October. The patient who has no comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 26 October. He is one of the household contacts of the 58-year-old MERS case reported to WHO on 23 October (see case number 5 below) and was identified through tracing contacts. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward.

• A 46-year-old male non-national living in Hofouf city, Al Ahssa Region. He developed symptoms on 18 October and was admitted to hospital on 22 October. The patient who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 23 October. He had a history of contact with camels and their raw meat in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward. Ministry of Agriculture was informed and investigation of camels is ongoing.

• A 55-year-old male non-national works living in Hofouf city, Al Ahssa Region. He was admitted to the hospital, currently affected by the MERS outbreak, due to myocardial infarction on 2 October. On 20 October, while hospitalized, he developed symptoms and tested positive for MERS-CoV on 22 October. Investigation of possible epidemiological link with the MERS cases detected in the same hospital is ongoing. The patient was in critical condition admitted to ICU. He passed away on 22 October.

• A 58-year-old male non-national works living in Arar city, Northern border Region. He developed symptoms on 14 October and was admitted to hospital on 20 October. The patient who has comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 22 October. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors is ongoing. The patient was in critical condition admitted to ICU but not on mechanical ventilation. He passed away on 27 October.

• A 40-year-old male national living in Uaryarah city, Eastern Region. He developed symptoms on 19 October and was admitted to hospital on 20 October. The patient who has no comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 21 October. On 13 October, he transported the 73-year-old MERS case reported to WHO on 15 October (see case number 13 below) by an ambulance to the hospital, currently affected by the MERS outbreak before the case was identified and isolated. Currently the patient is in stable condition in home isolation.

• A 61-year-old male national living in Hofouf city, Al Ahssa Region. He was admitted to the hospital currently affected by the MERS outbreak on 13 October for catheterization. On 14 October, he developed symptoms while hospitalized. The patient tested positive for MERS-CoV on 20 October. Investigation of possible epidemiological link with the MERS cases hospitalized in the same hospital is ongoing. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure isolation room on a ward.

• A 72-year-old female national living in Najran city, Najran Region. She developed symptoms on 13 October and was admitted to hospital on 16 October. The patient who has comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 20 October. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors is ongoing. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure isolation room on a ward.

• A 53-year-old male national living in Abha city, Assir Region. He developed symptoms on 9 October and was admitted to hospital on 19 October. The patient who has comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 20 October. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors is ongoing. The patient was in critical condition admitted to ICU but not on mechanical ventilation. He passed away on 22 October.

• A 47-year-old male non-national living in Buridah city, Qassim Region. He developed symptoms on 10 October and was admitted to hospital on 15 October. The patient who has no comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 17 October. He has a history of contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk in the two weeks prior the onset of symptoms. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure isolation room on a ward. Ministry of Agriculture was informed and investigation of camels is ongoing.

• A 72-year-old male national living in Riyadh city, Riyadh Region. He developed symptoms on 13 October and was admitted to hospital on 17 October. The patient who has comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 17 October. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors is ongoing. Currently the patient is in critical condition admitted to ICU on mechanical ventilation.

• A 33-year-old female non-national in the hospital, currently affected by the MERS outbreak and living in Hofouf city, Al Ahssa Region. She is asymptomatic but identified through tracing contacts of the 73-year-old male MERS case reported to WHO on 15 October (see case number 13 below). The patient who has no comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 15 October. Currently she is in stable condition in home isolation.

• A 73-year-old male national living in Hofouf city, Al Ahssa Region. He developed symptoms on 10 October and was admitted to the hospital, currently affected by the MERS outbreak on 13 October. The patient who has comorbidities tested positive for MERS-CoV on 14 October.

He has a history of contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. The patient was in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure isolation room on a ward but his conditions deteriorated and he passed away on 18 October.

Ministry of Agriculture was informed and their investigation is ongoing.

Contact tracing of household and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.

Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1826 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 649 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

WHO risk assessment
The current health care associated cases reported are not changing the overall risk assessment but are underlying the need for continued surveillance and application of Infection prevention and control measures.

MERS-CoV causes severe human infections resulting in high mortality and has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. So far, the observed human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in health care settings.

The notification of additional cases does not change the overall risk assessment. WHO expects that additional cases of MERS-CoV infection will be reported from the Middle East, and that cases will continue to be exported to other countries by individuals who might acquire the infection after exposure to animals or animal products (for example, following contact with dromedaries) or human source (for example, in a health care setting). WHO continues to monitor the epidemiological situation and conducts risk assessment based on the latest available information.

WHO advice
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.

Infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS-CoV in health care facilities. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because like other respiratory infections, the early symptoms of MERS-CoV are non-specific.

Therefore, health-care workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis. Droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection; contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection; airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures.

Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS-CoV infection. Therefore, these people should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, should be adhered to.

Food hygiene practices should be observed. People should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.



 MERS in Saudi Arabia: WHO update [Outbreak News Today, Nov 1, 2016]


The World Health Organization (WHO) published the following update on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) situation in Saudi Arabia:

Between 16 September and 10 October 2016 the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia seven (7) additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) including one (1) fatal case.

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Image/CIA

Details of the cases

• A 28-year-old male non-national living in Hail city, Hail Region. He developed symptoms on 5 October and was admitted to hospital on 8 October. The patient who has no comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 9 October. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms is ongoing. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward.

• A 51-year-old female national living in Alkharj city, Riyadh Region. She developed symptoms on 22 September and was admitted to hospital on 27 September. The patient who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 29 September. She has a history of contact with camels in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward. Ministry of Agriculture has been informed and investigation of camels is ongoing.

• A 52-year-old male national living in Wadi Ad-Dwaser city, Riyadh Region. He developed symptoms on 12 September and was admitted to hospital on 19 September. The patient who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 22 September. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors in the 14 days prior to onset of symptoms is ongoing. Currently the patient is in critical condition admitted to ICU but not on mechanical ventilation.

• A 43-year-old male non-national living in Riyadh city, Riyadh Region. He developed symptoms on 15 September and was admitted to hospital on 22 September. He tested positive for MERS-CoV on the same day. The patient has no comorbid conditions. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors prior to the onset of symptoms in the 14 days is ongoing. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward.

• A 78-year-old female national and living in Skaka city, Aljouf Region. She developed symptoms on 16 September and was admitted to hospital on 18 September. The patient who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 20 September. She has a history of contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward. Ministry of Agriculture has been informed and investigation of camels is ongoing.

• A 50-year-old male national living in Shaqra city, Riyadh Region. He developed symptoms on 11 September and was admitted to hospital on 15 September. The patient who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 16 September. He has a history of contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Currently the patient is in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward. Ministry of Agriculture has been informed and investigation of camels is ongoing.

• A 70-year-old male national living in Hail city, Hail Region. He developed
symptoms on 8 September and was admitted to a hospital on 13 September. The patient who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 15 September. Investigation of history of exposure to the known risk factors is ongoing. The patient was in stable condition admitted to a negative pressure room on a ward but his conditions deteriorated and he passed away on 27 September, 2016.

Contact tracing of household and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.

Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1813 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 645 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

According to the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health, as of Oct 29, the kingdom has seen 1470 MERS cases, including 615 deaths.

Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from Nov 10 till Nov 12 2016




 Bird flu spreads in Germany, sparking fears for holiday meals [Deutsche Welle, Nov 12, 2016]

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Germany revealed more cases of a dangerous strain of avian influenza on Saturday, alongside reports that the disease had spread to Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia.

The H5N8 virus has affected some 30,000 chickens in the northern German state of
Schleswig-Holstein. Authorities said an area of 3 square kilometers (1.2 square miles) around the affected farm had been sealed off.

Berlin has set up a crisis management task force to tackle the issue, after reports also came in from Austria that another large outbreak was suspected in an area along the border with Bavaria.

Authorities urge extreme caution

At the same time, Switzerland has confirmed that a number of dead birds found along Lake Geneva were found to be carrying the H5N8 virus. Bern and Vienna both immediately took steps to contain the disease from spreading further, authorities said.

This particular strain of avian influenza arrived in Europe from South Korea in 2014, brought by migratory waterfowl. Massive culling followed after wild ducks, geese and swans passed the disease to farmed birds like chickens and turkeys.

Authorities have urged extreme caution and care on the part of farmers and food inspectors.

The upcoming holiday season will increase the demand for duck, goose and chicken, and the flu outbreak could have serious economic consequences.

Avian influenza spreads easily among domestic poultry, but only certain subtypes - H5N1 and H7N9 - are known to infect humans.



 Bird flu outbreak: disinfection at check-posts for three months [The Hindu, Nov 12, 2016]


Surveillance to prevent bird flu is likely to be sustained for three months at all the 12 inter-State check-posts on the Kerala border, Animal Husbandry Department sources said.

Teams
Teams have been camping at the check-posts since October 29, a couple of days after the outbreak of avian influenza caused by H5N8 virus at Alleppey and massive culling of ducks.

Each of the four major check-posts, Walayar, Velanthavalam, Gopalapuram and Meenakshipuram, is being manned by a doctor and four attendants, and in every other remaining check-post, a doctor and two attendants carry out disinfection.

While poultry and poultry products from Kerala were not permitted into Tamil Nadu, there was no restriction on movement of chicken and eggs from Tamil Nadu to Kerala with requisite certification.

The transporting vehicles on the return journey were disinfected thoroughly at the check-posts, said T. Tamilchelvan, Regional Joint Director of Animal Husbandry Department.

Unlike in 2014 when the outbreak of bird flu was caused by H5N1 virus that had potential to affect humans as well, the current situation is not scary.

No evidence
World over, there has been no evidence to suggest that consumption of poultry meat or eggs could transmit the H5N8 virus to humans.

Simultaneously, the over 1,100 broiler farms across the district are also under watch to rule out unusual deaths of chicken on mass scale due to the viral infection caused by wild birds through their migratory fly-ways.

Avian influenza viruses are transmitted to the domestic poultry through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, especially faeces or through contaminated feed, water, equipment, and human clothing and shoes.

At this time of the year when the temperature is low, the highly pathogenic viruses can survive for long periods.

Monitoring
Hence, the department has simultaneously stepped up monitoring at the poultries to ensure effective adherence to bio-security practices for the entire duration of surveillance at the check-posts.

No restriction on movement of chicken and eggs from Tamil Nadu to Kerala with requisite certification



 Bird flu cases detected around Lake Geneva [SWI swissinfo, Nov 12 2016]


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The H5N8 bird flu strain has been detected recently in wild birds in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
(Keystone)

Swiss authorities have identified two cases of bird flu in waterfowl in the Lake Geneva area. This follows the detection of the virus in ducks around Lake Constance last week.

On Saturday, the Swiss Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs confirmed that a dead Tufted Duck and a Laughing Gull found near the port of the city of Lausanne have tested positive for bird flu. Like the cases in Lake Constance, the two birds were found to harbour the H5N8 strain of the virus.

Authorities have called for a poultry exclusion zone of one kilometer from the shoreline of all major Swiss lakes to prevent contact with wild and migratory waterfowl. Poultry owners that cannot comply with this are required to confine their birds in watertight enclosures.

The Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs will modify existing regulations next week and could further strengthen preventive measures depending on how the situation evolves over the next couple of days. So far, no poultry farm has been infected.

People who come across dead wild birds are advised not to touch them and to inform the wildlife wardens or the cantonal police. According to latest research, the H5N8 bird flu strain cannot be transmitted from animals to humans.



 New Bird Flu Outbreaks Reported in Germany, Switzerland, Austria [Fortune, Nov 12, 2016]


The H5N8 virus has also been found in Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia.

gettyimages-622146232.jpg
Chicken are pictured lock in a poultry farm in Bergentheim November 10, 2016 following the discovery of bird flu among wild birds in Europe. Poultry farmers in The Netherlands have been ordered to lock up their flocks, after a dangerous variant of the bird flu (H5N8 strain) is spreading across Germany and other European countries. According to the state of Schleswig-Holstein, dead wild birds were also reported at Lake Constance in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Switzerland and Austria. / AFP / ANP / Vincent Jannink / Netherlands OUT (Photo credit should read VINCENT JANNINK/AFP/Getty Images)

Germany, Switzerland and Austria reported new outbreaks of a severe strain of bird flu on Saturday in the latest in a series of cases across Europe.

The H5N8 virus has also been found in Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia.

In Germany, the state of Schleswig-Holstein reported one case of bird flu confirmed at a farm where 30,000 chickens would now be culled. The state’s agriculture ministry said an area of 3 square km (1.2 square miles) had been sealed off.

In Berlin, the federal agriculture minister, Christian Schmidt, said the government had set up a crisis management desk.

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety confirmed a second outbreak at a chicken farm in its western Vorarlberg province close to the German and Swiss borders and said 4,000 would be culled.

An Austrian poultry farm close to the chicken farm had tested positive for H5N8 on Friday.

A protection zone with a radius of at least 3 km and a surveillance zone with a radius of at least 10 km around the infected holdings will be created to keep migrating birds from transmitting the disease to farm poultry.

Bird flu was also confirmed in dead birds along Lake Geneva in Switzerland on Saturday.
Austria and Switzerland earlier this week took steps to prevent the spread of the virus to domestic poultry after discovering the disease in wild ducks around Lake Constance.




 Fears of bird flu after several outbreaks hit farms in Europe [euronews, Nov 11, 2016]

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Fear of Bird Flu  

Several countries in Europe have reported outbreaks of the highly contagious bird flu strain H5N8.

In Austria, the health ministry ordered that all birds on a poultry farm be culled this week to stop the disease from spreading after a Turkey tested positive for the virus.

Though it has never been found in humans, H5N8 is particularly virulent in wild birds.

The Austrian farmer whose birds will be destroyed spoke of the impact on his business.

“Christmas is when we see our main turnover. We have to kill about 1,000 animals. For us this is a huge challenge to deal with both physically and mentally. We will have to see how we can cope with the situation economically,” farmer Klaus Flatz said.

Along with Austria, cases in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and Croatia have all recently been reported.

9000 turkeys were destroyed in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein this week, while the Dutch government has ordered all poultry flocks be kept indoors.



 Bird flu hits Cameroon's poultry farms [BBC News, Nov 11, 2016]

Since 2014, bird flu has been sweeping through West Africa.
Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria have all been hit by the H5N1 virus and it has decimated poultry populations, costing billions of dollars. The virus has often been spread by migrating wild birds, and it has been very difficult to contain.
Earlier this year it hit Cameroon, where there are real fears for the country's poultry industry. From the capital Yaounde, the BBC's Suzanne Vanhooymissen reports for Africa Business Report. ☞ Bird flu in Cameroon  



 Swiss chickens at risk after bird flu hits Lake Constance [The Local Switzerland, Nov 11, 2016]

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So far the virus has only affected wild birds on Lake Constance. Photo: Kathrin Merger

Swiss authorities are taking measures to prevent the spread of bird flu after more than 80 wild birds were found dead in Lake Constance.

So far the H5N8 virus has only affected wild ducks and herons, but the fear is it could spread to farmed chickens in Switzerland. Suspected cases of the virus were discovered at a poultry farm in Austria on Wednesday.

As a result, Switzerland, Austria and Germany are working together on prevention measures, including establishing a one kilometre perimeter around Lake Constance within which poultry on farms will not be allowed outside.

Switzerland's federal food safety office (BLV) is also monitoring the lakes of Zurich, Biel/Bienne, Murten, Geneva, Neuchâtel and several canals, it said in a statement, however as yet it appears no wild birds in those areas have been affected.

The highly contagious H5N8 virus is transmitted by birds on migration routes south for the winter.

There is no evidence the virus can be passed to humans, however the BLV is advising people not to touch dead birds if they find them, and to tell the police.

Hungary's food safety authority said last week it had found traces of bird flu at a poultry farm in eastern Hungary and would destroy 9,000 turkeys to protect people living nearby.



 Bird flu spreads throughout Denmark [The Local Denmark, Nov 11, 2016]

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Just two confirmed cases have been found in ducks, but officials say the outbreak has likely spread across Denmark. Photo: Brian Bergmann/Scanpix

Farmers across Denmark are expressing concern that a widespread breakout of bird flu could be only a matter of time.

Thus far, just two cases of the aggressive bird flu H5N8 have been recorded in Denmark – one in Copenhagen’s Christiania district and the other on the island of Møn – but the Danish Food and Veterinary Service (Fødevarestyrelsen) said that the outbreak is likely to be nationwide.

“We are quite certain that the bird flu has already spread to the entire country. It is likely only a question of time until we receive reports from the rest of the country,” agency spokesman Stig Mellergaard told local newspaper Skive Folkeblad.

The two confirmed Danish cases were found in the Tufted duck, a duck species that is very common in Denmark.

The Danish Food and Veterinary Service said that the bird flu is normally not spread to humans. German officials have said that it will still safe to eat as long as people follow the usual hygiene procedures such as thoroughly washing cutlery and keeping meat separately from other foodstuffs.

Mellergaard said his agency has seen how quickly confirmed reports of bird flu have spread through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Poland.

“This is very, very serious,” he said.

Due to the likelihood of a widespread outbreak, several bird exhibitions have been cancelled throughout Denmark.



 BIRD FLU HITS: ALL DUTCH POULTRY TO BE CAGED [NL Times, Nov 10, 2016]

by By Janene Pieters

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All poultry farmers in the Netherlands were ordered on Wednesday to cage and guard all their birds intended for the production of meat and eggs. This precautionary measure was implemented by State Secretary Martijn van Dam of Economic Affairs after highly pathogenic bird flu H5N8 was found in widl birds in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland, NOS reports.

About 10 dead grebes and tufted ducs were also found in the Netherands, near Monnickendam.

They died of bird flu, though further study will reveal whether it was subtype H5N8.
Van Dam called on poultry farmers and companies to urgently take extra hygiene measures.

Limit the number of visitors and warn the NVWA if you notice symptoms of the disease. This could involve finding several dead water birds in one place. Farmers and hikers are strongly advised not to touch the dead birds - there is no evidence that people can be infected by H5N8, but it can't be completely ruled out, Van Dam wrote to parliament.

The main reason for the caging order is to prevent this contagious variant of bird flu from spreading from wild animals to poultry. In 2014 there was a massive outbreak of bird flu in the Netherlands. Bird flu is very dangerous for chickens - about 30 percent of infected chickens die from it.

The Dutch poultry union NVP is satisfied with the measures Van Dam announced. A spokesperson told NOS that the union is confident indoor confinement will be effective and expect all poultry farmers to take the instructions seriously.



 Bird flu hits Europe, France raises checks to counter virus [Reuters, Nov 10, 2016]

by Sybille de La Hamaide, Editing by Mark Potter and Elaine Hardcastle

Several European countries have reported outbreaks of a severe strain of bird flu, the World Organization for Animal Health said on Thursday, while France raised safety checks to counter the virus which can have a major impact on farmers.

The World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said Germany, Austria, Croatia and Switzerland had all officially reported the outbreaks, which concerned a particularly virulent strain affecting wild birds.

France's Agriculture Ministry added in a statement that the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus had been found in wild birds in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Croatia, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Austria and Switzerland on Thursday took precautionary steps to prevent the spread of bird flu to domestic poultry after discovering cases of the disease in wild ducks around Lake Constance.

The Dutch government took similar steps earlier this week, when it ordered farmers in the Netherlands to keep poultry flocks indoors following the outbreak of the virus.

Though the H5N8 virus is highly contagious in birds, it has never been found in humans.

It had been found in several European Union countries in 2014 and led to massive poultry cullings.

France, the European Union's largest agricultural producer, had at one stage imposed stricter controls and banned duck and goose production in 17 administrative departments, to contain an earlier outbreak of the bird flu virus.



 H5N8 expands reach along Baltic, other parts of Europe [CIDRAP News, Nov 10, 2016]

by Stephanie Soucheray, News Reporter

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dicau58/ Flickr cc

Croatia confirmed H5N8 in wild swans, while the Netherlands and Denmark are investigating suspected cases of the highly pathogenic avian flu. Germany also found the strain in a new region of that country.

The events signal ongoing rapid developments in the spread of H5N8, first to India and then to several countries in Europe.

Croatia confirms H5N8 as disease spreads along Baltic
Yesterday and today more countries across Europe reported H5N8, a highly pathogenic avian influenza that experts predicted would be spreading southward and westward after the H5 clade was found in migratory birds in Russia in June. The strain targets wild birds, waterfowl, and poultry, and will likely circulate through next spring.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported Croatia's first case of H5N8 in 10 wild swans found dead in the River Bidj, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The outbreak occurred on Oct 30 and is ongoing. Only two of the swans were available for laboratory testing, and H5N8 was confirmed. Last week, Hungary also reported H5N8 in wild swans.

Wild birds on the German island of Riems in the Baltic Sea were also reported dead today, according to Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog. The birds were likely tufted ducks and German newspapers have reported that the birds died from H5N8. Additional new sources say wild birds have also been found dead on the islands Griefswalder Oie and Ruden, also in the Baltic Sea. Officials in Germany are urging poultry farmers to keep their birds indoors.

Earlier this week, Germany reported its first case of H5N8 in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and Poland also reported H5N8 along the Baltic coastline. Just about 200 kilometers north of Germany, the Danish government is investigating the deaths of tufted wild ducks found near Stege on Moen, Avian Flu Diary reports, citing a translation of a Danish government statement. Denmark expects lab results back later today or early tomorrow.

Netherlands waterfowl finding
FluTrackers, the infectious disease message board, said the Netherlands also reported its first confirmed cases of H5N8 in dead crested grebes and tufted ducks near Monnickendam. Its source was a Dutch government statement.

Today the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Martijn van Dam, ordered poultry companies to keep birds indoors to avoid the risk of avian influenza, according to a report from The Poulty Site, an industry news outlet.

Finally today brought a warning from the United Kingdom's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The organization said that due to H5N8 outbreaks in Hungary and Poland, it was evaluating its avian flu testing abilities, but said there gad been little poultry trade between Great Britain and continental Europe.



 Highly pathogenic avian influenza spreads from Russia to Europe, India [Diplomatic Intelligence, Nov 10, 2016]

BUDAPEST, November 10, 2016 – It was less than two months ago that FAO issued a warning that H5N8 avian influenza virus had been detected in wild birds in Tyva Republic in southern Russia and would likely spread in a south-westerly direction with the autumn migration of waterbirds. The virus, which is highly pathogenic for poultry, appears already to have travelled westward as far as Poland and Hungary, and southwards to Kerala Province in India, according to recent official notifications to the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE.

“Events in the past week demonstrated that the virus has already spread from wild birds to domestic poultry,” said FAO chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth. The H5N8 virus has been detected in wild birds as well as domestic ducks in four States of India, and in Hungary, in a swan found dead in the southeastern part of the country, and a turkey flock in Totkomlos.

The dead Mute Swan in Hungary was found in late October near saline soda Lake Fehér-tó in Csongrád County, a well-known resting place for migratory birds, according to Andriy Rozstalnyy, FAO animal production officer for Europe and Central Asia. Hungarian authorities have now identified the virus as very similar to that found in wild birds at Lake Ubsu-Nuur, Tyva Republic in Russia in June. The locations – in Hungary and India – correspond roughly to the fall migration patterns of waterbirds, particularly Anatidae species.

Earlier this week (7 November) an H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus was also confirmed in wild birds in Poland. Though virological information is still awaited to confirm that it is the same strain, it is highly likely.

These recent detections of H5N8 virus in wild and domestic birds are additional evidence of the role of wild birds in the long-distance movement of H5 HPAI viruses from one stopover location to another along their migration routes. This appears to be the fourth documented wave of intercontinental movement of such viruses since 2005. The role of wild birds in their long-distance movement is now incontrovertible, according to a recent FAO news bulletin and other scientific publications.

Countries across the region should be on high alert for incursions of the virus, should adopt stronger biosecurity measures on all poultry farms, and enhance their surveillance, said Roztalnyy. All countries along the migratory pathways of the Anatidae family of birds are at risk, including countries of the Middle East, the European Union, West Africa, the former Soviet Union, and South Asia.

“We cannot predict which countries will experience outbreaks in poultry or cases in wild birds,” Rozstalnyy said, “but all should consider measures to curtail the disease and prevent spread of the virus in poultry.” The risk extends through March-April 2017 for Europe and the Middle East, he noted.

FAO recommendations
• FAO is calling for increased testing of any wild birds found dead or shot during hunting activities, and for vigilance on the part of poultry owners near sites where waterbirds congregate.
• Gene sequencing should be performed for all H5 viruses detected, and results shared with the global community in a timely manner. This will aid understanding of how the virus is spreading
• Hunting, handling and dressing of shot waterfowl in areas where H5N8 is likely to be circulating (as is currently the situation in Europe) carries the risk of spreading avian influenza viruses to susceptible poultry.
• Commercial poultry operations and backyard poultry owners should avoid the introduction of pathogens through contaminated clothes, footwear, vehicles or equipment used in waterfowl hunting.
• Any waste from hunted birds should be treated as potentially contaminated and safely disposed of.
• Waterbird scraps should not be fed to domestic animals (cats, dogs, or poultry).

Action on wild birds not recommended
There is no benefit to be gained from attempting to control the virus in wild birds through culling or habitat destruction, FAO cautioned. Nor is there any justification for pre-emptive culling of endangered species in zoological collections.
Control measures for captive wild birds should be based on strict movement control, isolation and only when necessary limited culling of affected flocks, according to FAO.
There is no long-term carrier status of H5 avian influenza in wild or domestic birds. Use of disinfectants should be focused on areas with no accumulated organic matter, and which have been cleaned. Spraying of birds or the environment with disinfectant – for example sodium hypochlorite or bleach – is considered potentially counter-productive, harmful to the environment, and not effective from a disease control perspective.

Public health significance
While highly pathogenic for domestic poultry, the human health risk of the Tyva 2016 strain of H5N8 virus is probably low, according to available evidence. To date, no cases of Influenza A in humans caused by avian influenza viruses have been associated with H5N8 viruses. Nevertheless, FAO is making the following recommendations:
• dead birds should not be handled or prepared for food
• authorities should be notified of any mortalities
• bird carcasses should be properly disposed of after sample collection
• standard hand hygiene practices should be followed by anyone who might come in contact with bird droppings or dead birds
• swimming in water that is potentially contaminated should be avoided
• any poultry product for consumption should always be thoroughly cooked.

FAO EMPRES-AH news with H5N8 update (English only) ☞ FAO EMPRES-AH  

Emergent Avian Influenza virus detected in surveillance of migratory birds in Russian Federation ☞ surveillance of migratory birds  

EMPRES Watch: H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) of clade 2.3.4.4 detected through surveillance of wild migratory birds in the Tyva Republic, the Russian Federation – potential for international spread (English only) ☞ EMPRES Watch: H5N8  

New avian influenza’s rapid spread to Europe threatens poultry sector especially in low-resourced countries ☞ low-resourced countries  

SHARON LEE COWAN
Senior Communication Officer
FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia
Budapest, Hungary



 Several non-EU countries restrict Hungarian poultry imports [Budapest Business Journal, Nov 10, 2016]

Seven non-EU member countries have banned the import of poultry and poultry products from Békés County or from the whole of Hungary following an outbreak of H5N8 bird flu virus at a Hungarian turkey farm, the countryʼs food safety authority NÉBIH said yesterday, Hungarian news agency MTI reported.

So far Canada, Serbia, South Africa, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore have announced full or partial bans on Hungarian poultry imports.

There are no limitations for deliveries to other European Union members, with the exception of the protection and surveillance zones established by NÉBIH.

Lajos Bognár, Hungaryʼs chief veterinarian, told public radio on Tuesday that talks are in progress with Hungaryʼs most important trade partners about enacting only partial embargoes.

NÉBIH said Wednesday afternoon that its officials have detected a second occurrence of the virus at a duck farm in Bács-Kiskun County.



 Bird flu outbreak feared [Plothom Alo, Nov 130 2016]

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Avian influenza, commonly called as bird flu, may become epidemic in the country due to unchecked interface of wild and domestic birds, experts warned at a workshop in Dhaka on Thursday.

They said bird flu is a global problem, but it can turn into an endemic proportion here for lack of a guideline in farming domestic birds like poultry, which may accelerate the transmission of avian influenza from both wild to domestic birds and domestic birds to wild.

IUCN Bangladesh country office organised the national workshop titled ‘Transmission of Avian Influenza from Wild to Domestic Birds’ at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh.

Nitish Kumar Paul, a health coordinator of the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), Bangladesh, of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said avian influenza (H5N1) virus is transmitted by birds, so all should take good care of both domestic and migratory birds.

He warned that once the avian influenza comes into human body, it will become endemic and people will be in danger.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), most of the avian influenza viruses do not infect humans, but such as A (H5N1) and A (H7N9) have caused serious infections in people. The majority of human cases of A (H5N1) and A (H7N9) infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.

IUCN country representative Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmed said if domestic birds anyway transmit avian influenza to wild and migratory birds, there will be an endemic situation.

He suggested announcing a guideline for farming of domestic birds, including poultry and duck, aiming to check any possible influenza virus breakout.

Birds expert Enam UI Haque, senior scientific officer of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) Dr Md Abdus Samad, forest conservator Ashit Ranjan Paul, associate scientist of the ICDDR,B’s Centre of Communicable Diseases Md Ziaur Rahman and IUCN programme officer ABM Sarowar Alam (Dipu), among others, spoke at the discussion.

IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Bangladesh is implementing a project titled ‘Investigation of Wild to Domestic Bird Avian Influenza Transmission: Multi-year Monitoring and Surveillance Programme’ funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The project aims to understand wild bird ecology through bird ringing, interactions of wild and domestic birds and avian influenza transmission from wild to domestic birds.



Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from Nov 21 till Nov 22 2016


Belarus suspends some poultry imports due to bird flu concerns [Reuters, Nov 22, 2016]

Belarus will suspend poultry imports from certain regions of Croatia, the Netherlands and Denmark due to concerns about avian flu, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

The trade restrictions will come into force on Nov. 23, it said.

(Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky; Writing by Alessandra Prentice. Editing by Jane Merriman)


Minister of Agriculture statement No cases of bird flu in Luxembourg 'up to now' [Luxemburger Post Nov 22, 2016]

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Photo: Shutterstock

Following a recent new outbreak of bird flu in several European countries including Germany, Luxembourg’s Veterinary Medicine Laboratory have stated that no cases have been detected in the Grand Duchy “up to now.”

The statement that there were currently no cases in Luxembourg of H5N8, commonly known as bird flu, was made by Fernand Etgen, Minister of Agriculture in parliament on Monday.

His announcement was in response to a parliamentary question posed by DP MP Gusty Graas, and Etgen added that his recommendation was for the industry to keep poultry “isolated” for now as a precautionary measure.

However he was quick to add that the consumption of meat and eggs is not harmful to human health.

Last week, France raised its bird flu alert to "high", a decision taken in some regions after "highly pathogenic" cases were identified in border countries.

According to French authorities, the alert refers to the discovery of H5N8 bird flu cases "in Germany, Switzerland and other countries of the European Union".

Luxembourg is not on the list, but local authorities are following developments closely.


Chickens in Yangju Test Positive for H5N6 AI Virus [KBS World Radio, Nov 22, 2016]

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Chickens at a farm in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province have tested positive for a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza(AI.)

Provincial authorities have culled some 15-thousand birds at the farm as a precautionary measure and placed a travel ban on 119 other poultry farms within a three-kilometer radius.

About 240 birds died at the Yangju farm on Saturday, and tested positive for the bird flu strain H5N6.

That's the same strain found recently in the droppings of migratory birds collected in Cheonan, North Chungcheong Province and South Jeolla Province.

H5N6 has killed at least six people in China alone since April 2014, and has also been reported in Vietnam, Laos and Hong Kong.


H5N8 Avian Flu Flies Across Europe [The Disease Daily, Nov 22, 2016]

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As of November 21st, there have been at least 56 outbreaks of H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in eight countries in Europe and two in the Middle East, just in the month of November alone [1]. Hundreds of thousands of birds have died as a direct result of the virus or through the culling of birds as authorities attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Many different species have been affected, including gulls, geese, ducks, chickens, turkeys, swans, and other types of waterfowl. HPAI outbreaks can have devastating economic consequences due to the massive loss of livestock and the trade restrictions that follow. Large farms in Germany, Hungary, Austria, Israel, and Iran that house thousands of birds have already been affected [1].

What is Avian Influenza?
Avian influenza, or “bird flu”, belongs to the type A influenza viruses, of which there are many strains that affect a variety of animals, including humans [2]. Type A influenza viruses are subdivided based on two proteins: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different H subtypes and 11 different N subtypes for type A influenza viruses, with many resulting combinations. All but two H and N subtypes have been found in birds [2]. The type A influenza viruses that naturally infect birds are classified as “avian influenza” and it is further separated into two categories based on the viruses’ ability to cause disease in poultry [3]. These categories are low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). HPAI causes severe disease and can kill up to 100% of the birds it infects.

While most strains of avian influenza are found to exclusively infect birds, there are some strains such as H5N1, H7N9, and H5N6, which have caused severe illness or death in people [4]. Luckily, H5N8 has not yet been found to cause disease in humans. Although there appears to be a low risk of human infection, the risk is not zero [4, 5]. Influenza A viruses can become virulent to new hosts through a process called antigenic shift [2]. Antigenic shift can happen when two influenza A viruses infect a host and the viruses reassort to form a new virus. For example, if a human were infected with both a human and an avian strain of influenza, a new virus that has genes from both strains could develop to cause disease. This new virus could then become endemic in a population and lead to further reassortments. Natural infections of H5N8 have been reported in dogs in South Korea [6] and this could provide more opportunities for the virus to eventually mutate into a human-pathogenic strain [7].

Spread of HPAI H5N8
On September 14, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released a warning about the spread of HPAI H5N8, when it was found in 17 water birds at Ubsu-Nur Lake in Russia [8]. Despite this early warning, H5N8 spread south into India, affecting several states, and west into Europe. Now, H5N8 has been detected in Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Israel, and Iran. Outbreaks in Europe began to be detected in late October [1]. This is the fourth wave of intercontinental movement of HPAI H5 viruses since 2005 and provides incontrovertible evidence that the spread of the virus is due to migratory wild birds [8]. Detections of dead birds infected with H5N8 around Lake Geneva and Lake Neuchatel on the France-Switzerland border have caused the French Ministry of Agriculture to be on high alert [1, 9]. The deputy head of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) expects more outbreaks in Europe and in the United States, where economic costs of last year’s HPAI (H5N2) outbreak caused losses of $3.3 billion [10, 11].

Poultry farmers have been ordered to keep their animals indoors to prevent any direct contact with possibly infected wild birds or their droppings [4]. However, this may not be enough to prevent H5N8 HPAI spread if additional biosecurity practices are not practiced. HPAI viruses can be spread through contaminated equipment and clothing that comes into contact with infected bird droppings or infected water supplies. It is imperative that farmers do not share their equipment and make sure they are thoroughly decontaminated before entering poultry houses. However, the migratory flyways of shorebirds that potentially carry the virus cover all of Europe and Africa. This may mean that farmers may have to “batten down the hatches” and hope that their poultry do not get infected during the migratory period of these birds.

1. OIE. Update On Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza In Animals (Type H5 and H7). 2016 November 21, 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ OIE. Update  

2. CDC. Transmission of Influenza Viruses from Animals to People. 2014 Auguest 19, 2014 November 21, 2016]; ☞ CDC  

3. FAO. Avian Influenza - Questions & Answers. 2016 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ FAO 

4. Coston, M., Avian influenza update: An interview with Mike Coston, in AM 1380 The Biz, R. Herriman, Editor. 2016, Outbreak News Today: .

5. WHO. Assessment of risk associated with influenza A(H5N8) virus. 2016 November 17, 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ WHO  

6. ECDC, Outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) in Germany. 2014: Stockholm.

7. Coston, M. Korea Finds More Dogs With H5N8 Antibodies. 2014 March 24, 2014 November 21, 2016]; ☞ Coston, M.  


8. FAO. H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in Hungary and in the Republic of India. 2016 November 4, 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ FAO. H5N8  

9. Coston, M. France: MOA Issues Precautionary H5N8 Alert. 2016 November 17, 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ Coston, M. France  

10. Coston, M. Denmark: DVFA Destroying Hundreds of Thousands Of Imported Eggs. 2016 November 14, 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ Coston, M. Denmark  

11. de La Hamaide, S. Expect more bird flu cases in Europe and in the U.S., OIE says. 2016 November 16, 2016 November 21, 2016]; ☞ de La Hamaide, S.  


Preventing spread of bird flu [The Korea Times, Nov 22, 2016]


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Quarantine vehicles spray disinfectant to prevent avian influenza nearby a reservoir in Hampyeong, South Jeolla Province, Tuesday, where migratory birds gather in winter as the authorities suspect they have spread the disease here. Thousands of chickens and ducks at farms in western coastal regions have been infected with the highly contagious H5N6 virus, which has not been seen in Korea before.
/ Yonhap


Two more H5N6 avian influenza outbreaks in South Korea, authorities cull thousands of birds [The Strait Times, Nov 22, 2016]

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South Korean health officials bury chickens at a poultry farm where the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus broke out in Haenam, South Korea, on Nov 17, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - South Korea confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu at two more poultry farms on Tuesday (Nov 22), taking the number of confirmed H5N6 avian influenza cases in the country to four.

The virus was discovered at duck farms in Cheongju, in North Chuncheong Province, and Muan, South Jeolla Province, said the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, reported Yonhap news agency.

Some 22,000 ducks were killed in Muan and 8,500 in Cheongju to prevent the possible spread of the disease, according to veterinary authorities.

The latest outbreaks come four days after the H5N6 avian influenza virus was detected at a chicken farm in Haenam, South Jeolla Province, and a duck farm in Eumseong, in North Chungcheong Province. Those cases resulted in about 40,000 chickens and 22,000 ducks being culled.

This is the first time that the H5N6 virus has been found in South Korea, which has previously seen outbreaks of the H5N1 and H5N8 avian influenza strains. The H5N6 virus has been previously seen in China, Vietnam, Laos and Hong Kong. In 2014, China reported that a human had been infected by H5N6.

The ministry has dispatched a quarantine team to the sites and begun to restrict the movement of animals, people and vehicles at the farms.

Separately, the authorities are trying to determine whether avian influenza detected at farms in Yangju and Gimje was the H5N6 strain, with the results expected on Wednesday (Nov 23), reported Yonhap.


H5N8 killed painted storks in Madhya Pradesh zoo, culling of remaining ones likely [The Times of India Nov 22, 2016]

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BHOPAL: High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) at Bhopal has detected the virus strain in the two samples sent by Gwalior zoo as H5N8 - a subtype of the Influenza A virus which is one of the lower pathogenic subtypes. Zoo has been shut down till further orders from state government.

After shut down of the National Zoological Park and Hauz Khas Deer Park in Delhi amid bird flu (H5 Avian influenza) scare, Madhya Pradesh government had sounded alert following a sudden death of 15 Painted Storks kept captive at Gwalior zoo.

Samples were been sent to laboratories at Bhopal and Jabalpur for investigation and Precautionary measures have been taken at the zoo in the wake of reports of bird flu from some areas of the country.

"We were not yet sure about the strain. Zoo staff have been told to be more cautious while dealing with their corpses and feeding those alive," said zoo in-charge Dr Upendra Yadav.

He said no more deaths have taken place in the last 24 hours.

There were 28 of them inside the enclosure. "Remaining ones seems to be alright. We have kept them under constant monitoring. Chances of more casualties cannot be ruled out," he said. He said decision whether the remaining ones are to be culled or not will be taken by the veterinary department.

Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is a large wading bird in the stork family found in the wetlands of tropical Asia south in the Indian Subcontinent and extending into Southeast Asia.

Their distinctive pink tertial feathers of the adults give them their name.

"H5N8 is less harmful that H5N1", he said.

Last outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus in poultry was reported from Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh from January to April, 2006.


Risk to human from bird flu sub-type H5N8 is low: Govt [Business Standard News, Nov 22, 2016]

Press Trust of India, New Delhi

The risk to human population from avian influenza sub-type H5N8 is "low" but the government has issued advisories to states and Union Territories to minimise bird-human interface as a matter of "abundant caution", Rajya Sabha was informed today.

Outbreak of bird flu was first reported on October 18 among wild birds in National Zoological Park in Delhi and since then samples from Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana have been tested positive at Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD).

Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh Kulaste said that samples drawn from poultry birds in Bellary district in Karnataka have also been tested positive for avian influenza H5N8.

"Based on the current knowledge, the public health risk to human population is considered low for Avian Influenza sub-type H5N8.

"However, as a matter of abundant caution, the Health Ministry has issued an advisory to the states and UTs to minimise bird-human interface, use personal protective equipment by those handling dead or sick birds, keep persons exposed to the birds under surveillance and provide them chemoprophylaxis (Oseltamivir 75 mg) once daily for 10 days," he said.

The minister said that no human case of Avian Influenza (bird flu) has been reported in India.

The Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries department took all necessary precautions to control the outbreaks of bird flu and advisories were issued and teams of experts were deputed to the affected areas to assist in control and containment measures, the Minister said.

Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave had constituted a monitoring committee for overseeing outbreak which had claimed over 60 bird deaths in the national capital.

The committee comprises of member secretary of Central Zoo Authority, director National Zoological Park and deputy Inspector General of Forest (Wildlife).

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Killer bird flu has spread across Europe - are humans next? [New Scientist, Nov 22, 2016]

by Debora MacKenzie

Threatwatch is your early warning system for global dangers, from nuclear peril to deadly viral outbreaks. Debora MacKenzie highlights the threats to civilisation - and suggests solutions

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Indoor sheds might protect geese from H5N8
Roland Weihrauch/EPA/Alamy

Bird flu is back, and it’s got nastier - for birds, at least. The H5N8 virus has spread into Europe and is killing wild birds as well as invading poultry farms - a major worry for farmers in the run-up to the festive season. So far the virus doesn’t seem to infect humans, but it is evolving.

The current strain is descended from the H5N1 virus, which started killing poultry in China in 1996, and then people too. H5N1 exploded across east Asia in 2004 with the poultry trade, and then spread into Europe and Africa in 2006, thanks to migrating birds. Since then, the virus has lurked mainly in poultry, especially flu-vaccinated chickens in Asia that can carry the virus while being immune to it. So far, 452 people have died after catching it from poultry.

But viruses like H5N1 have also been moving with migrating dabbling ducks like mallards, which are usually immune to it. Birds from all over Eurasia mingle in north-central Asia during the summer, swap viruses, then disperse back to Africa, Asia and Europe for the winter. This has recently allowed H5N1 to hybridise with other kinds of flu. “We do not know what is driving the plethora of H5s,” although changes in climate and migration may be involved, says Julio Pinto at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Turkey culls
As Europe’s poultry farmers fatten up their geese and turkey for Christmas, one hybrid of
H5N1 is now giving them sleepless nights.

H5N8 appeared in China in 2014, before spreading with migrating ducks into Japan, Korea and across Russia into north-western Europe, including the UK. It also reached Canada and the US, devastating poultry farms until it was stamped out. It now seems to be gone from North America, says David Swayne at the US National Poultry Research Center in Athens, Georgia.

It appeared to cause few deaths in wild birds in 2014, and failed to reappear in Eurasia the following winter. But in June, H5N8 caused a mass die-off of wild birds in the Uvs-Nuur basin between Russia and Mongolia, a protected biodiversity hotspot.

This time round H5N8 has spread west along northern and southern migration routes into India, the Middle East and Europe, as birds have escaped colder weather in recent weeks. The virus is expected to spread further as lakes freeze and ducks keep searching for open water.

Dozens of farms in Denmark, Switzerland and Germany are now infected. Free-range poultry such as geese have now been moved indoors, away from wild birds. Turkeys are extremely susceptible to the virus, and 9000 turkeys were killed last week on an infected farm in Hungary, a country that produces many turkeys and geese for Christmas.

Killing wild birds
Unlike the 2014 strain, the virus is also killing wild birds, including swans, gulls, grebes and tufted ducks. Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, says H5N8 has picked up new genes from flu strains in wild birds, which could be making it deadly to more species. The Friedrich Loffler Institute in Insel Riems, Germany, is now testing different species for susceptibility to the virus.

While humans have so far escaped infection, the World Health Organization says the risk “cannot be excluded”. “You can’t be complacent about these viruses,” says Ab Osterhaus, head of the newly launched Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses in Hannover, Germany.

Osterhaus’s team found that the 2014 H5N8 strain could infect ferrets, the mammal used to model human flu. And he points to the seemingly harmless H7N7 bird flu outbreak in the Netherlands in 2003 that infected hundreds and killed a vet.

“We need to learn much more about the ecology of these viruses,” he says. “They might just die out in wild birds if they don’t sometimes spill over into big poultry populations.” Farmers fattening turkeys and geese for year-end feasts are hoping this week that they won’t be the ones to suffer the next spill-over.


Thanksgiving turkeys cost more than ever after bird flu wipeout [Kankakee Daily Journal, Nov 22, 2016]

by Lydia Mulvany, Linly Lin, Megan Durisin
Bloomberg

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To make sure all 15 of the Busch's Fresh Food Market stores had enough turkeys weighing more than 22 pounds to sell for Thanksgiving this month, meat buyer John Taormina began ordering in January.

He didn't end up with a single one of the big birds, which last year accounted for more than a third of what the Michigan company sold for the holiday.

The worst-ever U.S. outbreak of avian influenza destroyed almost 8 million turkeys earlier this year, and those that remain are smaller than normal. That's boosting wholesale costs for grocers to a record, and consumer prices are the highest ever for this time of year. Americans will eat about 49 million turkeys for Thanksgiving holiday meals on Nov. 26, or about one of every five that will be consumed all year.

"The larger-sized birds will be difficult to get this year," Taormina said, adding the biggest available at his upscale stores will be 20 pounds to 22 pounds, which is big enough to feed about 15 people. Turkey is "center-of-the-plate for this holiday, so typically families get together and they're looking for the bigger-sized" birds, he said.

Some turkey farmers haven't recovered from a six-month outbreak that ended in June, and many were forced to sell birds earlier than normal and at smaller sizes, said Russ Whitman, vice president at commodity researcher Urner Barry in Bayville, N.J. Production fell to a five-year low, and the September weight decline for turkeys was the biggest for that month in four decades, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

Wholesale, fresh turkey hens surged 18 percent from a year earlier to a record $1.5993 per pound as of Nov. 6, and frozen turkeys were up 5.6 percent at $1.309 per pound, after touching an all-time high of $1.385 a week earlier, USDA data show. The agency estimates birds at slaughter weighed 29.7 pounds in September, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier and the biggest decline for that month since 1973.

While shoppers probably still can find deals because most supermarkets offer seasonal discounts on turkey to lure customers, the USDA reported prices for frozen hens averaged a record $1.08 per pound as of Nov. 12, up 21 percent from a year earlier.

Fresh turkeys that account for 20 percent of Thanksgiving sales especially are hard to find because most were born after outbreak ended, according to Tom Elam, the Carmel, Ind.-based president of consulting firm FarmEcon. The number of baby turkeys, or poults, placed into flocks in July were down 7 percent from a year earlier, USDA data show.

With tighter supplies, buyers are competing for supply. The Cornwell family in Marshall, Mich., which raises as many as 40,000 birds per year, is getting calls for the first time from large food distributors and food-services companies that usually only buy from major producers, farm owner Patti Cornwell said.

There were 268 million pounds of whole turkeys in cold storage at the end of September, the least for the month since 2006, according to the USDA. Supplies of all frozen turkey were the lowest in three decades. Domestic production will drop 3.2 percent this year to 5.57 billion pounds, the lowest since 2010, according to USDA estimates.

It's not all bad news for consumers. Thanksgiving is a big holiday for deals on turkey, which means retailers might eat some of the higher costs. For example, ShopRite, a chain of grocery stores in the northeastern United States, is offering a free turkey to customers who spend $400 between now and Thanksgiving.

At Busch's Fresh Food Market, the company plans to keep retail prices unchanged from last year and will absorb a 15 percent increase in turkey costs, the biggest Taormina's said he has seen in 20 years of buying meat.

Other seasonal staples such as cranberries and potatoes probably won't be more expensive than last year, according to Corinne Alexander, an agricultural economist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Lower electricity and natural-gas prices also will help keep costs in check for cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year, she said.

Butterball, the largest U.S. turkey processor, expects to sell "a very similar" number of turkeys this holiday season as 2014, or about 20 million birds, said Jay Jandrain, executive vice president of sales. The Garner, N.C.-based company produces about a quarter of the turkeys sold in November and December. Because most of the whole birds are sold to retailers early in the year, current wholesale prices probably don't reflect their total costs, he said.

Prestage Farms Inc., based in Clinton, N.C., sold about a third of its whole-bird hens on the spot market for about $1.30 per pound, a record, said Ron Prestage, president of operations in South Carolina and Mississippi. The remaining birds fetched $1 to $1.10, about the same as last year, he said. The company produces about 420 million pounds of turkey annually, with about 10 percent used in the whole-bird market.

Annual production will be about 1 percent below the company's normal output of 14 million turkeys, after a hatching supplier in Minnesota was short on eggs due to the outbreak, Prestage said.

"I absolutely think that consumers are going to see a higher price of turkeys, but they probably won't see all of it because they commonly don't," Prestage said.


Bird flu kills woman [Xinhua, Nov 22, 2016]


A woman has died after contracting H5N6 avian flu in central China’s Hunan Province, local health authorities said yesterday.

The woman, 47 years old and surnamed Luo, was a farmer from Shaoyang City.

She was admitted to a local hospital last Friday when her health was already critical, and died on Sunday, according to the Hunan provincial disease control center.



 H5N8 bird flu spreads — Iran and Denmark report outbreaks [Digital Journal, Nov 21, 2016]

BY KAREN GRAHAM

Tehran - The H5N8 strain of the highly contagious bird flu continues its rampage across Europe, with Iran and Denmark reporting the latest outbreaks on Monday.

Reuters is reporting that the H5N8 bird flu virus was detected at two farms located in the Tehran region, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Monday, based on a report from the Iranian agriculture ministry.

The two outbreaks killed a total of 5,600 chickens out of a total of nearly 283,500 on the farms, according to information on the OIE's website. All the birds were killed or slaughtered.

"A post-outbreak investigation to trace the source of infection is ongoing to detect the probable spread and circulation of this subtype," the ministry said in the report.

In related news on Monday, Denmark has reported its first outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu, the country's environment and food ministry announced today. About 10 ducks out of a flock of 30 were found to have the virus at a farm north of Copenhagen, according to Fox News.

The ministry also said the strain of bird flu was the same virus that has been found in wild birds in Denmark. A week ago, Danish farmers were ordered to keep flocks indoors after the finding of the virus in wild birds.

On November 14, Digital Journal reported that outbreaks of the severe strain of bird flu have popped up in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia, prompting a number of countries to order poultry flocks to be kept indoors.

In 2006, Denmark lost 200 million Danish crowns ($28.58 million) in export revenue due to a bird flu outbreak, said the ministry.

The H5N8 bird flu virus used to be considered one of the lower pathogenic subtypes of the bird flu virus. But as it has evolved, it has become much more virulent. It also can act as an incubator for the much more deadly H1N1 virus.


South Dakota Poultry Producers Bounce Back from Bird Flu [Agweb, Nov 21, 2016]

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Poultry producers in South Dakota are starting to make a comeback after bird flu.
[コピーライト] USDA

Some South Dakota egg producers are finally feeling some relief a year after the bird flu resulted in the deaths of millions of birds across the Midwest.

The outbreak's effects led to soaring egg prices and hardship for egg producers and turkey farmers in the spring and summer of 2015, the Daily Republic reported.

Last month, Flandreau-based egg producer Dakota Layers repopulated all nine of its flocks, which includes 1.3 million hens, according to the company's website. Dakota Layers vice president Jason Ramsdell said the rebuilding process took a lot of time and energy.

The repopulation also benefits consumers in the form of lower egg prices because young hens produce eggs at a faster rate than aging hens.

Farmer-owned turkey plant Dakota Provisions managed to bounce back from the bird flu losses, and is planning an $8.5 million expansion of its cold storage unit. The company lost 12 percent of its total turkey population during 2015 - about 618,000 turkeys - company human resources director Mark Heuston said.

"The first year of the new facility should take us from $250 million to $300 million sales. Then higher each year after for several years," Heuston said.


Bird flu spreading across western Korea [The World on Arilang, Nov 21, 2016]

A strain of the avian influenza virus that's even more fatal than previous strains is spreading quickly across the country.

Last week, authorities culled tens of thousands of chickens and ducks infected with the H5N6 virus at farms in Jeollanam-do and Chungcheongbuk-do provinces.

Since Saturday, dozens of chickens and ducks in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheongbuk-do provinces have died of the virus.

Four duck farms in Chungcheongbuk-do Province have reported suspected cases of the viral strain and the regional government has confirmed the virus at three other farms nearby.

Over 250-thousand chickens and ducks at ten farms within three-kilometers of the area are being culled to prevent the virus from spreading further.

In China, the H5N6 strain of the virus has infected 15 people and killed six☞ Bird Flu in South Korea   .


Sweden raises alert level as bird flu spreads to neighboring Denmark [Fox News, Nov 21, 2016]


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Chickens sit inside cages in a traditional market in Taipei April 25, 2013. (REUTERS/Pichi Chuang )

STOCKHOLM - Sweden has raised the alert level for poultry to the second highest following an outbreak of bird flu in neighboring Denmark, the Swedish board of Agriculture said on Monday.
The board raised the level to two on a scale of three, which means poultry must be kept indoors.

"We are raising the level of protection as a precaution," the board said in a statement. "Bird flu is spread mainly by wild birds and therefore the risk of getting the disease to the Swedish poultry is now considered elevated."

The H5N8 bird flu has been detected at a poultry farm in Denmark, the country's environment and food ministry said earlier on Monday. Bird flu has been found in a number of countries across Europe over the past two weeks.


Bird flu found in wild water birds in Netherlands [Manila Bulletin, Nov 21, 2016]

By Philippine News Agency

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Chicken are pictured lock in a poultry farm in Bergentheim November 10, 2016 following the discovery of bird flu among wild birds in Europe./ AFP PHOTO / ANP / Vincent Jannink / Netherlands OUT/ Manila Bulletin

THE HAGUE - Wild water birds found dead in Monnickendam are infected with avian influenza H5N8, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Affairs confirmed to Xinhua on Thursday.

“It’s about grebes and tufted ducks,” spokesperson Marian Bestelink told Xinhua. “I have to emphasize that it’s only the case with wild water birds, not at commercial farms. To prevent an outbreak at commercial farms we already took measures.”

The confirmation of H5N8, contagious and lethal to birds, came as no surprise. On Wednesday already the Ministry of Economic Affairs decided that all commercial poultry farms should keep their birds, intended for the production of meat, eggs or other products and for restocking wild, inside on one place.

The measure was taken as a precaution after H5N8 bird infections were already detected in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland. The indoor confinement does so far not apply to Dutch hobby farmers.

The several dead birds were found on Wednesday and Thursday near Monnickendam, a city in the Dutch province of North Holland at the coast of the IJsselmeer lake. More dead birds were found in the area and are currently being investigated as well.

On Thursday morning, investigators of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) started inspections of poultry farms. The Ministry of Economic Affairs urged farmers to take extra hygiene measures for their poultry.

The last time avian influenza involving the highly pathogenic H5N8 variant was identified in the Netherlands in November and December 2014. Several commercial farms were infected, but a major outbreak was prevented.


Minnesota Turkey Industry Bouncing Back After Last Year’s Bird Flu Struggles [CBS Minnesota, Nov 21, 2016]

By Pat Kessler

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - An annual Thanksgiving tradition at the State Capitol Monday: The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association displayed a large, live turkey for Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

Dayton announcing significant good news for the state’s number-one-in-the-nation turkey industry: Avian flu has been wiped out.

Just a year ago: Minnesota’s billion dollar turkey industry was reeling from that lethal outbreak.
But Monday: “There’s not a single incident of avian flu disease,” said Dayton.

The avian flu that hit Minnesota last winter was unusually lethal, killing 46 million poultry nationwide, and threatening Minnesota’s 450 turkey growers.

“Losing somewhere in the area of 9 million birds,” said the state’s Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, “it was the most significant loss that the turkey industry had ever experienced.”

In the wake of the flu outbreak, Minnesota’s turkey industry adopted strict bio-security measures, and lawmakers built a modern laboratory in Willmar to quickly test and monitor safety.

“Preparing to react to something like that certainly was a big part in the success that we did have in getting rid of the viruses as well as we did,” said Steve Olson, the executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “But we’ve learned a lot.”

Minnesota’s now back to number one: The largest turkey producing state in the nation.

Forty-six million birds this year alone, accounting for 18 percent of all the turkeys on American tables, heading into the biggest turkey holiday of the year.

Nationwide, 95 percent of Americans say they will eat turkey during the Thanksgiving and
Christmas holidays this year, according to the National Turkey Federation, including 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving alone.

Minnesota’s extraordinary comeback from the deadly disease that killed 46 million turkeys nationwide faced a deadly threat from a nationwide flu outbreak.

Frederickson said Monday the state hasn’t had a confirmed case all year. Minnesota farmers have raised 46 million birds this year, a normal year for the industry.

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