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West Nile Fever News from 17 Jun 2017



 West Nile virus spreads to Leh igh and Northampton counties [Allentown Morning Call 21 Sep, 2017]

by Kayla Dwyer

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 Mosquito lava are formed in stagnant water, a good breeding ground for West Nile mosquitoes. (Wiqan Ang / TMC)

Lehigh County is the latest in Pennsylvania to report a human case of the West Nile virus, a man, following the report of a positive case in Northampton County earlier this month, a woman.

These two cases bring the state total up to 12 human cases in 2017 — eight men and four women — spanning 10 counties, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Only one of these cases was found in a minor; the rest were adults ages 40 to 80.

In 2016, there were 16 positive human cases, the first recorded in July and the last in November.

West Nile virus, a disease spread by mosquitoes, first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2000 in birds, mosquitoes and a horse. Here are suggestions from Pennsylvania’s West Nile Virus Control Program of actions to take at home to help prevent the spread of the virus:

・Dispose of containers holding standing water on your property, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots.

・Pay special attention to discarded tires. Stagnant water in tires are where most mosquitoes breed.

・Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.

・Clean your roof gutters every year.

・Turn over wheelbarrows and don't let water stagnate in birdbaths.

・Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use.

・Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active.

・Consider using mosquito repellent outdoors.



 West Nile virus confirmed in a Kittitas County horse [Yakima Herald-Republic, 20 Sep, 2017]


West Nile virus has been confirmed in a horse in Kittitas County, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

The confirmed case is in a 15-year-old quarter horse gelding. The horse is currently being treated, according to a news release from the Kittitas County Public Health Department.

The state Department of Health confirmed the horse did not travel outside of Washington state and was not vaccinated for West Nile virus.

A vaccine is available for horses to prevent West Nile virus infection, which should be administered annually in the spring. Many horses infected with the virus do not become ill and will show no symptoms.

If symptoms are displayed they may include loss of appetite, loss of coordination, confusion, fever, stiffness, muscle tremors, and muscles weakness (especially in the hindquarters). About one-third of all horses that become ill with the virus will die, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

The state Department of Agriculture confirmed 27 equine West Nile virus cases last year. Seven of those horses died or were euthanized. In all, 10 counties reported West Nile virus cases involving horses last year,

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. The disease sickens people, horses, birds and other animals, but it does not spread directly from horses to people or other animals, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

There is no human vaccine. The Kittitas County Public Health Department conducts limited surveillance of birds and mosquitoes.

Besides vaccination, horse owners can reduce mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas. Recommendations include removing stagnant water sources, keeping horses inside during insects’ feeding times, typically early in the morning and evening. Consider using equine-approved mosquito repellents, place fans inside barns or stalls to maintain air movement, and avoid using incandescent bulbs inside stables at night.

For questions regarding the vaccine for horses, contact a veterinarian’s office. For questions regarding the confirmed horse case, contact the Kittitas County Public Health Department at 509-962-7515.



 West Nile case confirmed in Myrtle Beach [ABC NEWS 20 Sep, 2017]

by Mikayla Mercer

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(Photo credit: CDC)

Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WPDE) — Officials with the City of Myrtle Beach and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) have confirmed a West Nile Virus case within the city.

According to Mark Kruea with the City, DHEC notified the City of the case late Friday afternoon.
Kruea said DHEC reports that the infected person spent the past two weeks in the area between Third Avenue South and Mr. Joe White Avenue.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through infected mosquitoes and birds, and it is not transmitted between humans or other mammals, he said.

Beginning Friday night, Kruea said the city is increasing its mosquito spraying in that area as a precaution. Officials will also be treating any standing water with mosquito larvicide briquettes.
DHEC staff was expected to be in the area Monday to set mosquito traps for testing.

Residents are being advised to take action to prevent mosquito breeding and reduce exposure to mosquitoes.

Kruea said area residents should empty out any standing water where mosquitoes might lay eggs and, if you're outside in the evenings, wear long sleeves or use a mosquito repellent.

As of September 19, DHEC has confirmed 11 human cases of West Nile virus in South Carolina this year.



 Bradley man is state's 1st West Nile death [Kankakee Daily Journal 19 Sep, 2017]

by Lee Provost

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Dave King Band performs at Kankakee Community College's 50th Anniversary Kick Off Party held at the Kankakee Depot.

BRADLEY — David King, 58, of Bradley, the co-owner of King Music Services in Bradley, died Sunday after a battle with the West Nile virus that began in July.

Health department officials have confirmed that King was the first West Nile virus death in Illinois this year.

Last year, there were six West Nile virus deaths in Illinois. In 2015, there were nine. With September temperatures staying in the low 70s and high 80s, people should be particularly aware.

King, known for his trumpet skills, was co-owner of King Music Services in Bradley. King and his brother, Randy, were named "Businesspersons of the Year" in 1994 by the then-Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber of Commerce. The business was formed by the two in June 1981.

Dave and Randy King were also part of the "Swing Kings," a 16-piece band.

"Everyone is born with some level of music intelligence," Randy said. Dave's was much higher than most.

He said he an his brother began playing at the old Red Carpet Lounge at the end of Broadway Street as boys. He said Dave was probably 10. He said their first night on stage they made $5.35 in a tip jar. They later learned the $5 was dropped into the cup by their father, Ray.

"When you play music with an individual like Dave for 47 years there's no verbal communication that happens. It's very difficult to put into words," Randy said. "We just connected on some other level."

Randy explained it was their father that wanted them to play an instrument. It was suggested Dave would play the saxophone. He didn't want to so he stopped going to band practice. When his father learned he wasn't attending practice, he asked his son why he was missing practice.

"He told him he wanted to play the trumpet," Randy said. The rest is history.

The boys love of music grew rapidly. They handed out business cards in high school offering lessons. And they always talked about one day starting their own store.

"Until an individual takes action on their desires or faith, nothing has changed. He took action.

He took it every day," Randy said.

"He led a full life. It was a short life, but a full life," Randy said. "Our music community in spite of our loss will continue to flourish. That will happen because of the seeds Dave helped plant."

While many people were being kept apprised of King's health through Facebook updates, the news still shocked people.

Nick Veronda, of Veronda's Music store in Kankakee, said this news was difficult to accept.

"We will miss Dave," he said speaking for himself and his brother, Bill. "The Kings and the Verondas go back years. We were friends long before we were competitors. We are all just in shock."

Bradley Mayor Bruce Adams said Dave was a "friend to everybody."

"His love of music, you could always tell that. That was how he got his points across. He was a gentle, but a determined man," the mayor said. "He always wanted what was best for other people."

The Kankakee County Health Department recently issued a notice that a second county man was also affected with West Nile, an illness passed to humans by mosquitoes.

"The education is something we want to continue to push," said John Bevis, Kankakee County Health Department Administrator, regarding West Nile. "Until there's a hard frost, which could be October or could be November depending on when we get those, the mosquitoes could still be present and doing damage to individuals."

"Especially this weekend with the warmer weather, it's conducive to mosquito population. People will be out and about with the warmer weather and enjoying outdoor activities," he added.

To protect yourself from the virus, take these precautions:

Reduce the amount of standing water on your property by regularly emptying out containers like outside ashtrays, pools, bird feeders and tires. Report large areas of stagnant water, like flooded yards or ditches, to the health department.

Check your home for openings where mosquitoes can enter.

Wear long sleeves to minimize skin exposure, and repel mosquitoes with a bug spray containing 10 to 25 percent DEET. For those looking to avoid DEET, search for "picaridin" on the list of active ingredients (consumer reports recommends Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin) or consider lemon eucalyptus oil as natural DIY alternative.

The Daily Journal reporter Allison Shapiro contributed to this story



 3 Californians have died of West Nile virus this summer, officials say [Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep, 2017]


by Soumya Karlamangla

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Mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus have been found in 33 of California's 58 counties this year. (Ben Garver / Associated Press)

California health officials said Friday that three people have died of West Nile virus this summer, marking the first deaths in what could be a particularly dangerous season for the disease.

The three people lived in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Kern counties, according to state health officials. L.A. County health officials said the local patient who died was from the San Fernando Valley area and was hospitalized in early August.

West Nile virus is an illness that mostly exists in birds, but can be transmitted to mosquitoes that bite infected birds. Humans get the disease when they’re bitten by those mosquitoes.

West Nile season typically begins with warmer weather in the summer and continues into the fall.

“West Nile virus can cause a deadly infection in humans, and the elderly are particularly susceptible,” said Karen Smith, director of the state Department of Public Health. “August and September are peak periods of West Nile virus transmission in the state, so we urge everyone to take every possible precaution to protect themselves against mosquito bites.”

Experts say that heavy rains this winter in California have led to more mosquitoes in the region. State data show that the number of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile is higher this year than the state’s most recent five-year average.

Most people who contract the illness don’t notice any symptoms. But a very small number can develop encephalitis or meningitis that can be fatal.
Last year, 19 Californians died of West Nile virus.

Health officials recommend wearing insect repellent and long pants and long-sleeve shirts outdoors, especially during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to be active. They also recommend draining any standing water, like in flower pots or buckets, where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.



 First West Nile virus case confirmed in SC [WYFF Greenville, 9 July 2017]

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COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) —

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental control has confirmed its first case of West Nile Virus in South Carolina.

DHEC stresses the importance of paying attention to the most effective ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:

・Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions.

・Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.

・Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.

・Wearing light-colored clothing to cover the skin reduces the risk of bites.
"If you develop fever or other symptoms after being bitten by a mosquito, you should contact your health car provider," said Dr. Linda Bell, SC State Epidemiologist.

What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus Disease?

・Febrile illness is some people. about 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as a headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile Virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

・Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

For more information about preventing mosquito bites and the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illness, go to www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. Learn more about West Nile virus at www.scdhec.gov/westnile.



 First Human West Nile Case of 2017 Reported in Plano [NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, 1 July 2017]

west-nile-plano-spray-map.jpg


Plano reported the first human case of the West Nile Virus of the year.

The Collin County Health Department learned of the case on Thursday. So far, mosquito traps in the area have tested negative for West Nile.

Plano is responding by spraying certain places around the area where the confirmed case was found, which is shown on the map above.

Spraying will happen on July 3 at 9 a.m.

Officials encourage residents to keep pets and children indoors during the spraying. To protect yourself from West Nile, you can drain standing water near your home, dress protectively and use insect repellent with DEET in it.



 Indiana health department warns about mosquitoes after West Nile virus found [South Bend Tribune, 17 June 2017]

By Alexandra Smith South Bend Tribune

State health officials are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the first 2017 cases of West Nile virus have occurred in the state.

According to a press release from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), two human cases of West Nile virus have been documented in Hamilton and Lake counties. Mosquitoes in Morgan and Tippecanoe counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. The ISDH expects to see more of the virus as mosquito season continues.

West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, which is a mild form of the illness. Symptoms of West Nile fever include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands and rash. A more severe form of the disease affects the nervous system, causing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or death. Anyone who thinks they may have West Nile virus should see a health care provider.

State health officials recommend several steps to prevent mosquito bites:

- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active, like late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning.
- Apply insect repellent to clothes and skin. Make sure it contains DEET or a similar chemical.
- Cover exposed skin with hats, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, like woods.
- Make sure screens on windows and doors are installed or repaired to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so take the following steps to prevent breeding grounds:

- Discard anything that can hold water.
- Repair failed septic systems.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
- Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
- Clean clogged roof gutters, especially if leaves will plug up the drains.
- Frequently replace the water in pet bowls.
- Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.
- Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.



 West Nile virus arrives early [Austin Herald, 17 June 2017]

The last time Kirk Johnson found mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus this early, was back in 2006.

“This virus does very well in warm weather,” he said. “It’s amplified more rapidly. We did have some unusually warm days this spring.”

Johnson is a vector ecologist at the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. Every year crews set mosquito traps across the metro area and test the insects for West Nile.

Two mosquitoes collected on June 6 tested positive for the virus earlier this week. Johnson said it’s as early as the virus has ever been found in Minnesota — tying the 2006 record.

West Nile was first detected in Minnesota in 2002. It’s transmitted between mosquitoes and birds, starting in the spring. Usually, Johnson says it’s not common enough to be detected until mid to late June. And most human cases show up in mid-July through September.

Last year 83 human cases of West Nile and five fatalities were reported in Minnesota.

Minnesota epidemiologist Dave Neitzel says when the virus is found early in mosquitoes it could mean more, and earlier human cases.

“Early transmission is a sign that the whole cycle has been sped up,” he said. “The earlier that happens, the earlier the risk season can start.”

A human case of West Nile was recently diagnosed in South Dakota. Neitzel says early cases in people are fairly normal in prairie regions. The strain of mosquito — culex tarsalis — most commonly infected with the virus prefers grasslands to forest.

Johnson says crews in the metro area are conducting their regular mosquito control programs, monitoring mosquito hatching in wetlands, and spraying larvicide from helicopters.

“We want to stop the mosquitoes before they hatch,” he said.
A few weeks of cooler weather could also slow down the spread of West Nile.

West Nile virus symptoms include headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people recover, but some develop life-threatening infections involving the brain. People over 60 years of age are at the greatest risk for severe disease.
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 31 Aug 2017



 UNIST to track the spread of deadly Avian influenza [EurekAlert (press release) 16 Sep, 2017]

ULSAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY(UNIST)

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IMAGE: UNIST CELEBRATES THE OFFICIAL SIGNBOARD-HANGING CEREMONY OF THE SELF-POWERED MOBILE TRACKER RESEARCH CENTER (SMTRC) ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2017.

The official signboard-hanging ceremony of the Self-powered Mobile Tracker Research Center (SMTRC) took place at UNIST on September 12, 2017.

The center, which was selected as the University ICT Research Center for nurturing ICT talents in June of this year, has recently embarked on a research project to develop a new type of tracking device, capable of monitoring the migration routes of wild birds.

By successfully securing 3.19 billion KRW in research funding over four years, the project is expected to accelerate the development of a self-powered tracking device for bird flu outbreak prediction. The center will receive 2.9 billion KRW from the Korean government and 290 million KRW from the city of Ulsan in subsidies. Additional funding will be also given over two years after further evaluation.

Under the direction of Professor Franklin Bien of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UNIST, the center aims to develop fundamental technologies to overcome the challenges and limitations of the current tracking devices.

This breakthrough, called Mobile Tracker has gotten much media attention as a technology to lead a global market, as it can be applied to various location tracking systems. Through this new tracking system, the captured and monitored wild bird migration data will be transferred to the server via data communication module. Using data visualization techniques, it is possible to compile the vast amounts of data into a risk map to batter understand and predict at-risk areas of outbreaks.

The center hopes to tackle the issues surrounding poor battery life and size via the following projects, which include the development of ? High Reliability Energy Harvesting Technology ?

Wireless Communication HW Solution ? Communication/Network Transmission and Reception Protocol ? Big Data-based Mobile Visualization System ? Mobile Tracker Application Technology.

These technologies will be, then, applied to various areas in the field of information technology (IT), including real-time logistics tracking and missing-child prevention services.

"With the help of those technologies, we will soon be able to build a self-powered miniature tracking device, capable of transmitting location information in real-time," says Professor Bien.

"This will help minimize the risk of introducing infectious animal diseases, such as avian influenza (AI)."

This new research center, with a gross floor area of 131-square meters, is located in the Engineering Building III at UNIST and will be used as a common equipment room, as well as for a space for fusion research.

"Mobile Tracker is of great value, as it is a highly versatile tool for many applications and industries," says President Mooyoung Jung. "Through this project UNIST hopes to contribute to economic growth in Ulsan region."

###

The ceremony was attended by 30 guests affiliated with the center, including President Mooyoung Jung of UNIST, Director SangHong Lee of the Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion, Manager ByeongTaek Cho from the ICT and Broadcasting Technology Policy Division of the Ministry of Science and ICT, Manager SeokGyeom Kim from the Industry Promotion Division of Ulsan City Hall, HeungSoo Lee from the Regional Industry Promotion Division of Ulsan Technopark, and Vice President JongYeol Lee of FCI Co. Ltd.

The University ICT Research Center project is supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), under the ITRC (Information Technology Research Center) support program supervised by the IITP (Institute for Information & communications Technology Promotion). The project has been supporting the university-industry cooperation and aims to foster highly-talented human resources through the technology development at universities.



 South Africa’s poultry industry is hurting as avian flu worsens [Gears Of Biz 18 Sep, 2017]

BY VICTORIA RITTER

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The outbreak of avian flu could have long-term ramifications, industry experts say. Photo: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – The outbreak of avian influenza in the Western Cape has led to the culling of more than 300 000 chickens in the past two months.

According to industry experts, the number of culled chickens will not necessarily result in a shortage of poultry or an increase in the price in the short term, but it can have ramifications in the long term.

New cases were detected on a poultry farm in the Paardeberg region in the Western Cape. The province’s department of agriculture reported on Monday that at least 30 000 chickens had died, while a further 110 000 have had to be culled, following the reports.

The national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said avian flu, which was first detected in Villiers in the Free State and Standerton in Mpumalanga, had already impacted on the industry. “All the affected farms have been placed under quarantine,” the department said.

Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the affected farms had been quarantined. “Three ostrich farms are quarantined in the Heidelberg region, as well as one farm in the Paardeberg region. “And we are conducting tests, because it is contagious. We are also asking people to notify us if they are picking anything up,” he said.

Paul Makube, a senior agricultural economist at First National Bank, said the outbreak could force small poultry producers out of business. “The country has just come out of the drought, so the small players will not survive the avian flu, if it is not contained. This will lead to job losses and put a serious dent in the price of chicken in the long run,” Makube said.

He added that in the short term local demand could be met by imports, but this would result in local producers losing market share. Poultry producer Astral Foods reported last week that the outbreak had set the company back R50million since it was detected on its farms in June.

But South Africa is not the only country fighting the disease. The World Health Organisation has reported avian influenza in the US, Hong Kong, China and in some parts of Europe and Africa.

“Unfortunately, the authorities cannot tell in advance where the next outbreak will occur. They can only try to contain it once the disease has been reported,” Makube said.

The KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of the National African Farmers Union said although the province had not recorded any new cases, it was important for small farmers to be given training on how to deal with the avian flu outbreak if it was detected on their farms.



 Swift action should contain avian flu [Herald live 16 Sep, 2017]

BY Shaun Gillham

Sovereign Foods, which is the first poultry producer in the Eastern Cape to be struck by the devastating avian influenza this year, believes it can manage and recover from the outbreak.

The latest outbreak follows 24 outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of bird flu which have struck at commercial chicken farms and ostrich farms around the country since June.

Uitenhage-based Sovereign, which is South Africa’s fourth-largest poultry producer, announced on Thursday that it had culled 5 000 chickens after the flu was detected at one of its operations in the Uitenhage area.

The company, which is taking the appropriate steps and precautions to prevent the spread of the flu, said yesterday that it believed it was possible to contain it.

”It is manageable if the correct steps are followed; immediate culling of infected birds, and cleansing, disinfection and treatment of equipment and materials,” company spokesman JP Roodt said.

Sovereign said the virus had first been detected on Wednesday.

“It was detected through early detection systems which focus on monitoring birds for clinical symptoms of diseases,” said Roodt, who added that the company had not yet established how the flu was introduced.

He said the flu had been detected at a layer house – a structure which housed egg-laying hens at a facility wholly owned by the company.

Asked about the impact of the event going forward, the company said it could not predict any developments at this point.

Regarding the R907-million all-cash buy-out offer to the company in early August by Capitalworks, Sovereign said that if there were any impact on the buy-out approach an announcement would be made to shareholders.

Roodt said at this stage it was uncertain what strain of the flu had been detected, but that it was suspected to be the H5N8 strain.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber said it was concerned by the outbreak, and how this would affect the commercial poultry industry, and supporting sectors, in the region.

“We commend Sovereign Foods for acting swiftly to contain the spread of the disease to other farms,” chamber communications manager Cindy Preller said.



 First case of bird flu in Eastern Cape detected [Herald live 14 Sep, 2017]

by Shaun Gillham

The first case of bird flu has been detected on an Eastern Cape Farm.

Sovereign Food Investments Ltd detected the avian influenza at one of the their poultry operation’s in Uitenhage.

About 5000 birds had to be culled, which represents about 1% of Uitenhage’s production pipeline, according to a statement released by Sovereign Foods.

“Sovereign Foods’ management is taking the appropriate steps and following the prescribed protocols to prevent AI from spreading to other farms,” the statement reads.

The company’s Hartbeespoort operation remains unaffected.

At least 24 outbreaks have occurred in South Africa since June.

About 60000 birds had been culled at a poultry farm in Vryheid after an outbreak of avian influenza in northern KwaZulu-Natal in August.



 COA Confirms Chickens to Have H5N8 Avian Flu [ThePoultrySite.com, 8 Sep, 2017]

TAIWAN - Chickens at two slaughterhouses in Taipei and New Taipei City were confirmed to be infected with the H5N8 avian influenza virus, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said last week.

Taipei Times reports that as of Monday (4 September), 40 chickens at a slaughterhouse in New Taipei City’s Taishan District and 24 chickens at a facility in Taipei’s Wanhua District have been culled, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Shih Tai-hua said.

The infected chickens came from poultry farms in Taoyuan’s Dasi District and Yunlin County’s Shueilin Township, he said.

After receiving veterinarian reports on Friday, the bureau had prohibited the two farms from transporting any chickens.

More avian flu infections — mainly the H5N2 and H5N8 strains — than normal were reported this summer, which should have been a dormant season for the viruses, Mr Shih said.

China, Vietnam and the Philippines also reported more bird flu infections this summer, he said, denying media reports that the viruses have adapted to the nation’s warmer weather.

"We have been analyzing the viruses every season, but have not observed any sign of evolution," Mr Shih said.

The risk of humans becoming infected with H5N8 “cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low, according to the WHO.

The nation’s chicken farmers had a difficult year, as they have faced successive blows from an H5N6 outbreak during the first four months, dioxin-polluted eggs in late April, fipronil-tainted eggs late last month and bird flu infections.

As of 6pm Monday, eggs were sold at an average of NT$20.5 per 600g, much cheaper than the NT$29 they sold for before the fipronil scare erupted on 20 August.

"With schools starting, the demand for eggs is on the rise, as is their price," Department of Animal Industry Deputy Director Wang Chung-shu said, declining requests to predict the price.

However, chicken and egg supplies are still sufficient given that the fipronil scare did not lead to major culls, he added.



 South Africa: Update On Avian Influenza in the Western Cape [AllAfrica.com, 8 Sep, 2017]

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities and the state vet team briefed media on the current regional outbreak of avian influenza in the province.

Highlights include:

17 cases confirmed

46 ostrich farms under quarantine

In excess of 200 000 chickens have died or been culled

Vets conducting province-wide survey and surveillance

Farms urged to put strict biosecurity measures in place immediately

The Western Cape Government today (7 September 2017) released an update on the status of avian influenza in the province.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, and the state vet team deployed to deal with the outbreak, briefed the media at the Ministry of Economic Opportunities this afternoon.

There are currently 17 properties which have been confirmed to be infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), strain H5N8, in the province.

Minister Winde said: "We've made significant resources available in support of our quest to contain the spread of the disease. But, we need the cooperation of the entire affected sector - private and public - if we are to win this battle."

After a case is confirmed by positive lab tests, it is reported to the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

DAFF officially notifies the OIE (also known as the World Organisation for Animal Health) as well as our trading partners. The OIE then notifies its 71 member countries, so they may put preventative measures in place.

In respect of the above-mentioned cases, the formal notification process has been concluded, and these cases can therefore be made public.

Detail below:

Area
SpeciesGroup

Species
SpeciesType
Heidelberg
Ratites
Ostriches
Commercial
Heidelberg
Ratites
Ostriches



 Quest to contain avian flu with 17 properties infected [Independent Online, 7 Sep, 2017]

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File photo: EPA

“We've made significant resources available in support of our quest to contain the spread of the disease but we need the co-operation of the entire sector - private and public - if we are to win this battle.”

So said Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde yesterday of the outbreak of avian influenza in the province, which has already lead to the culling of about 200 000 chickens.

Currently 17 properties were confirmed to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu and 46 ostrich farms have been placed under quarantine.

Vets have started to conduct surveys with farmers and bird owners, in areas surrounding the affected properties.

Winde said people living within 3km of farms with infections and who do not complete the surveys, will be visited by an animal health technician.

“Although we have no reported cases of people being infected with this strain of avian influenza, we are urging people in contact with infected birds to take precautions. We need the co-operation of the public to stop the spread of this disease,” Winde said.

State vet specialising in epidemiology, Lesley van Helden, said after the birds are culled, their carcasses are disposed of.

“We increase the monitoring in the area surrounding the property and we let other farmers know what's going on so they are all aware,” Van Helden said.

The disease lives among wild birds as well, although they are not being culled.

Van Helden said these birds are a small population and if culling starts, they will migrate to other parts of the province and in doing so, spread the disease even further.

Van Helden said they would rather the flu “burn itself out” among wild birds.

“We've had six properties on which the (avian flu) was confirmed.

“Five of these were properties on which people found wild birds that were dead already and it was then reported to us.

“We went to pick them up and did testing. One of them was on an ostrich farm,” Van Helden said.

State vet, Laura Roberts said ostriches in Heidelberg showed no clinical signs of having the disease and throat swabs were used to detect it.

“We quarantined 19 farms, seven of them tested positive.

“There's still no signs, we just have to keep those farms quarantined and make sure it doesn't spread,” Roberts said

When it came to jobs Winde said: “There are an estimated 29 million birds in the commercial poultry sector in the Western Cape and about 185 000 backyard chickens.

“The ostrich sector provides around 15 000 direct jobs and indirectly 100 000 people depend on this sector for their livelihood.

“Our economists have started mapping the Western Cape's avian economy. We know the decreased supply of poultry products in the market will also put pressure on food prices - a further strain on households,” Winde said.



 MANY WC FARMS STRUGGLING TO DEAL WITH AVIAN FLU OUTBREAK [Eyewitness News, 7 Sep, 2017]

by Lauren Isaacs

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A chicken farm. Picture: Freeimages.com

State vet Aileen Pypers says this is the first time the province is dealing with the highly pathogenic avian influenza in the poultry industry.

CAPE TOWN - More than 200,000 chickens have died or been culled since the outbreak of bird flu in the Western Cape.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde and the state vet has given an update on the status of the disease.

Since the first case was reported in the province on the 9 August, 16 more cases have been confirmed.

There are an estimated 29 million birds in the commercial poultry sector in the Western Cape.

State vet Aileen Pypers says this is the first time the province is dealing with the highly pathogenic avian influenza in the poultry industry.

“So our poultry industry is, I think, a little bit unprepared for this. Many of the farms have got contingency plans in place, but many of them have been caught unawares with no contingency plans of how they are going to deal with this, how they are going to dispose of carcasses.”

The industry has already seen job losses as a result of the outbreak.

Winde adds a shortage of poultry products will also put pressure on food prices.

PROVINCE-WIDE SURVEY

The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says vets are conducting province-wide survey and surveillance programmes, since the outbreak of bird flu.

Officials have put several control measures in place at poultry and ostrich farms.Forty-six ostrich farms, situated in Heidelberg and Oudtshoorn, have been placed under quarantine.

Pypers says as part of control measures the slaughtering of birds is only allowed after a farm has tested negative.

Officials say access to properties under quarantine should be restricted as far as possible.

As a further control measure, the state vet has this week launched an interactive survey with farmers and bird owners in areas surrounding affected properties.



 Deadly Bird Flu In China Evolves, Spreads To New Regions [NPR, 7 Sep, 2017]

by MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF

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A patient with the H7N9 avian flu is treated in a hospital in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province, in February of this year. The 2017 outbreak was the deadliest in China since H7N9 first appeared in humans in 2013.
AFP/Getty Images

This past year China had the largest outbreak of a deadly bird flu since the virus was first detected in March 2013.

For the past five years, China has had annual waves of H7N9 outbreaks that peak around January and February.

During the 2017 season, the country reported nearly the same number of cases as all four previous years combined, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Thursday. The virus cropped up in more geographic regions. And it showed signs of evolving in ways that cause concern.

As NPR reported in April, the virus has picked up mutations that make it more deadly in poultry and less susceptible to antiviral treatments. "Our research shows it can kill all the chickens in our lab within 24 hours," virologist Guan Yi told NPR.

H7N9 isn't your run-of-the-mill bird flu. H7N9 is "the influenza virus with the highest potential pandemic risk," the CDC writes in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In people, H7N9 can cause a severe form of pneumonia and progress into septic shock and multiorgan failure. "We know of only a small number of people who presented with influenza-like symptoms and then recovered without medical attention," the World Health Organization says.

During the 2017 outbreak, the Chinese government reported 759 cases of H7N9. There were 281 deaths — about a third of those infected. By comparison in 2016 and 2015, the country reported 123 and 226 cases, respectively.

Although H7N9 has potential to evolve in a global threat, right now it has one severe limitation that restricts its potential to spread: The virus doesn't transmit easily between people. About 90 percent of people catch the virus by handling poultry.

But person-to-person transmission is possible. During 2017, there were 14 clusters of cases in which a person passed the disease to at least one other person.

Since March 2013, there have been 1,557 cases of H7N9 reported worldwide. All infections were caught in in China, Hong Kong or Macao. Nearly 40 percent of those infections were deadly.



 Poultry keepers must act to counter Avian Flu threat [Somerset County Gazette, 6 Sep, 2017]

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Poultry keepers were urged to keep biosecurity measures up to date. Picture: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Poultry keepers across the UK are being urged to remain vigilant to the threat of bird flu and take action now to reduce the risk to their flocks and the wider poultry industry this winter.

A joint call from the Chief Vets of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK ask all keepers to take simple steps to reduce the risk of disease before autumn migration of ducks and geese begins again this winter.

These include: Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces.

Cleaning footwear before and after visits.

Placing birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds and removing any spilled feed regularly.

Fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl.

Signing up to a free service to receive text or email alerts on any outbreaks of bird flu in the UK.

Last winter, the H5N8 strain of bird flu was found in 13 kept flocks in the UK, ranging in size from as few as nine to as many as 65,000 birds. The UK has seen a decline in the number of new cases over the summer but the disease is still circulating in kept poultry across Europe, with Italy the most recent country to suffer a series of outbreaks. It has also recently been confirmed in a dead mute swan in Norfolk.

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "While it is undoubtedly good news we haven’t confirmed a case in kept birds in the UK for two months, the disease remains a threat – particularly as we move again towards the colder months.

For that reason we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and I want to remind keepers of flocks large and small to do everything they can to reduce the risk to their birds.

Simple actions you can take now, such as regularly cleaning and disinfecting the area where you keep your birds and signing up for free disease alerts, could really help to reduce the risk of your birds becoming infected this winter."



 Warning over risk of new strain of avian influenza [The Scotsman 6 Sep, 2017]

by BRIAN HENDERSON

Scotland’s poultry producers should prepare themselves for a potential new strain of avian influenza reaching Europe’s poultry farms this winter, a leading disease expert has warned.

Ian Brown, head of virology at of the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), told the World Veterinary Poultry Association conference that there was a likelihood that avian flu would return to Europe over the next few months.

Producers need to review their biosecurity and work as a group Ian Brown


And if the strain was different to one we had seen before – which was possible – it could have significant implications on the poultry industry, he warned. Brown said while the situation was currently uncertain, it was important poultry keepers were prepared against a potential biosecurity risk.

“Even if the virus is changing, the way it behaves and spreads remains the same, so the pathways in which it gets into a unit are not any different,” said Brown, who is also director of the international reference laboratory for avian influenza at APHA-Weybridge.

“At this time of year, producers need to review their biosecurity and work as a group in the industry to set protocols.They need to be fastidious, as one case can cause the whole sector to suffer.”

Brown said practices such as compartmentalisation – where business or multiple farms can adopt common biosecurity measures to standardise their approach to protecting bird health – could be beneficial.

However, relatively simple measures such as ensuring buildings are in a good state and feed bedding and equipment is stored away from areas wild birds can access were just as important. “The challenge for the industry is to look at the risks we know,” he said.

“The riskiest period is September to April, so we need to think about how we can sustain that biosecurity.”

Scotland’s chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas said it was important producers remembered the risk of bird flu from wild birds, and urged bird keepers to reduce contact with wild birds in ponds and other water areas.

“As winter migration season approaches, all bird keepers should be enhancing their disease prevention measures in response to any increase in risk and are encouraged to keep up to date with the latest situation by signing up for the APHA free text alerts service,” she added. “I would also strongly encourage both commercial and hobby bird keepers to be prepared and use this time to reassess and update their contingency plans, in consultation with private vets or the APHA.”

New code may end uncertainty for limited partnership tenants While there may only be just over 500 farming businesses still involved in limited partnership agreements, the publication of a code of practice for planning the future of those involved in such arrangements yesterday will directly address one of the areas of greatest contention between landlords and tenants.

Limited partnership tenancies were used as a means of circumventing security of tenure throughout the latter decades of the 20th century until changes to the holdings legislation introduced limited duration leases in 2003.

However, with the majority of these agreements now approaching their dissolution date, many limited partnership tenants have found themselves facing an uncertain future, with what effectively constitutes their lease coming to an end in what might be considered the middle of their farming careers. •

While some landlords have rolled leases over to time-limited agreements which will last until the tenant retires, other high-profile cases have led to years of contention and legal wrangling, with the Scottish Government’s intervention during the early years of the new legislation leading to further problems and lengthy appeals. However, the new code of practice, drawn up by tenant farming commissioner Dr Bob McIntosh, is designed to take some of the uncertainty out of the issue and provide a framework for both sides to work together towards a satisfactory deal.

“It is important that discussions take place with plenty of time for both parties involved to discuss their aspirations before a final decision is agreed to the future of the partnership,” said McIntosh.



 Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China [World Health Organization, 5 Sep, 2017]

On 4 August 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of one additional laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China.

Details of the case patients

The case was a 58-year-old male from Fujian province. He developed symptoms on 19 July 2017, and was admitted to hospital with severe pneumonia on 29 July 2017. He was reported to have had exposure to a live poultry market.

The Chinese government has assessed that it is still likely that sporadic cases will occur in China, taking into consideration the previous epidemic situation and risk assessment.

To date, a total of 1558 laboratory-confirmed human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported through IHR notification since early 2013.

Public health response

The Chinese government at national and local levels continues to take preventive measures which include:

・Continuing to guide the provinces to strengthen assessment, prevention and control measures.

・Continuing to suggest the provinces to make a summary of epidemic prevention and control during the present low-incidence stage to facilitate implementation of long-term measures.

・Continuing to carry out risk communication and issue information notices to provide the public with guidance on self-protection.
The government has cautioned provinces that prevention and control cannot be treated lightly, and that they should stay alert to ensure that cases can be identified and managed in a timely and effective manner.

WHO risk assessment

As seen in previous years, the number of weekly reported cases has decreased over the summer months. The number of human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) and the geographical distribution in the fifth epidemic wave (i.e. onset since 1 October 2016), however is greater than earlier waves. This suggests that the virus is spreading, and emphasizes that further intensive surveillance and control measures in both the human and animal health sector remain crucial.

Most human cases are exposed to avian influenza A(H7N9) virus through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets. Since the virus continues to be detected in animals and environments - live poultry vending continues, and further human cases can be expected. Additional sporadic human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in provinces in China that have not yet reported human cases are also expected. Similarly, sporadic human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) detected in countries bordering China would not be unexpected. Although small clusters of cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported, including those involving patients in the same ward, current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that this virus has not acquired the ability of sustained transmission among humans. Therefore, the likelihood of further community level spread is considered low.

Close analysis of the epidemiological situation and further characterization of the most recent viruses are critical to assess the associated risk and to adjust the risk management measures in a timely manner.

WHO advice

WHO advises that travellers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should, if possible avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live poultry markets, entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals. Travellers should also wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety and food hygiene practices.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions, with regard to this event. As always, a diagnosis of infection with an avian influenza virus should be considered in individuals who develop severe acute respiratory symptoms while travelling in, or soon after returning from, an area where avian influenza is a concern.

WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance, including surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns; ensure reporting of human infections under the IHR 2005; and continue national health preparedness actions.



 China reports H7N9 avian flu death in Jiangsu [Outbreak News Today, 2 Sep, 2017]

by ROBERT HERRIMAN

The China National Health and Family Planning Commission has reported an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Jiangsu.

The male patient, aged 58, in Zhenjiang has died. He had exposure to a live poultry market before onset.

Since 2013, 1,561 human cases have been reported with all but 31 reported in China. 763 cases have been reported just since Oct. 2016.

Most human cases are exposed to avian influenza A(H7N9) virus through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets. Since the virus continues to be detected in animals and environments, and live poultry vending continues, further human cases can be expected.

Although small clusters of cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported including those involving patients in the same ward, current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that this virus has not acquired the ability of sustained transmission among humans.

Travelers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should avoid, if possible, poultry farms, contact with animals in live poultry markets, entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. Travelers should also wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.



 South Africa: Minister Senzeni Zokwana - Media Briefing On Avian Influenza [AllAfrica.com, 1 Sep, 2017]

DOCUMENT

Minister Senzeni Zokwana briefing the media on Avian Influenza

Members of the Media, good afternoon

The economic importance of poultry is highlighted by the fact that in the 2016 production cycle, broiler and egg production was still the largest segment of South African Agriculture in Rand value at 18%. The recent outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of Avian influenza have sent shockwaves through the poultry industry of South Africa after it was first detected on 22 June 2017.

The virus can cause big losses in poultry and it is priority to contain and eradicate the disease. Government Veterinary services, together with the poultry industry have worked tirelessly to curb the spread of disease by destroying all infected poultry. Localised outbreaks have been reported in the Highveld of Mpumalanga Province, Gauteng and recently also in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the North West and Western Cape Province. So far, twenty four outbreaks were detected; ten outbreaks in commercial chickens, three outbreaks in ostrich, three outbreaks in backyard chickens and eight outbreaks in wild birds and birds kept as a hobby.

Government and Industry are collaborating to find scientifically sound and practical ways to bring this outbreak to a halt and minimise the effect on the poultry of South Africa. Biosecurity measures that are recommended at the farm level include:

Keeping poultry away from wetlands and areas frequented by wild birds;
do not provide an abundance of food on properties that may attract wild birds;

Control people access and equipment to poultry houses;

Maintain sanitation of poultry houses and equipment;

Avoid the introduction of birds of unknown disease status into flocks;

Report illness and death of birds to the State veterinarians for immediate investigation
Dispose of manure and dead poultry in a safe way.


Control of the movement of live chickens in the informal and small commercial sector has been a critical risk management measure. The Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) was authorised by DAFF to register and keep records of all parties selling and buying live chickens.

This is also linked to health declarations before movement of live birds in order to prevent any spread of disease and to safeguard the consumer without hampering local trade.

The strain found in the current outbreak does not cause disease in humans. Since January 2017, H5N8 has been reported in forty seven countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Middle East with no human cases reported. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have both confirmed that the H5N8 strain does not affect human beings. We have been working with the Department of Health since the first outbreak was reported; they have tested workers in the affected farms and there has not been a single case of human infections.

In my meeting with the industry on Monday; 21 August 2017, the Industry raised concerns on compensation guidelines relating to the principles and guidelines of compensating affected farms. The draft guidelines have been completed will be released to the industry and public by the 1st of September 2017.

Another big concern raised by the industry was the issue of vaccination against the Avian Influenza. We all agree that this is not a simple discussion that can be taken lightly. It is a decision that should be based on scientific research for the long term benefit of the sector and the country. We set up a task team consisting of representatives from industry and Government to work on scientifically based considerations regarding vaccination.

The first proposal was received by my team from the poultry interest group of vets recently and forms the basis of discussions. Detailed update will be communicated by end of September 2017.

The industry also requested to be given permission to import fertile eggs to close the supply gap as a result of culled birds. We have received several requests which we are considering.

We are conducting thorough risk assessment in order to avoid exposing the country to other disease risks. The basic work has been conducted and there are two options which have been presented to the poultry industry. The first option is for the risk mitigation to be conducted in South Africa through stringent quarantine measures on arrival of the hatching eggs from their country of origin.

The second option will be for stringent quarantine measures in the country of origin where the eggs will come from compartments free of specified diseases that DAFF will approve, with less stringent post arrival quarantine measures. A request for measures applied for compartments has been sent to Brazil, and we are awaiting this information. The requests can only be considered for imports from Avian Influenza free countries as well as those which South Africa currently imports from.

The Government is committed to support the poultry sector in South Africa. Negotiations are ongoing to find a way to provide an incentive to farmers who have experienced massive losses due to destruction of healthy birds and eggs in an effort to eradicate the disease.

Negotiations with international trade partners are ongoing to ensure a continuation of trade from disease free compartments with special biosecurity measures as well as the export of fresh ostrich meat from a closed holding.

The continued cooperation of the public and the poultry industry, in the timeous reporting of sick and dying birds to the Government veterinary services is vital for the effectiveness of disease control and we therefore thank the public and the poultry industry for their support. I thank you.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries



 Bird flu spreading as cases reach 3 provinces in SA [eNCA, 31 Aug, 2017]

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File: The virus has been detected in 24 cases in South Africa from three provinces at commercial chicken and ostrich farms, among wild birds, in birds that were kept as a hobby, and backyard poultry.

JOHANNESBURG - According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry (bird flu) "is ongoing" after its emergence in South Africa in June 2017.

The virus has been detected in 24 cases in South Africa from three provinces (Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Western Cape) as follows: 10 outbreaks in commercial chickens, 3 outbreaks in commercial ostrich, 5 outbreaks in wild birds, 3 outbreaks in birds that were kept as a hobby and 3 outbreaks in backyard poultry.

In a statement, the Institute for Communicable Diseases says there have been no human cases of A(H5N8) in South Africa.

"To date, 60 workers who had been exposed to infected birds have been tested and none have tested positive."

The Institute maintains that poultry and poultry products that are available for sale in retail outlets are safe for human consumption.

eNCA



 SA Poultry Industry Hurting as Avian Flu Worsens [ThePoultrySite.com, 31 Aug, 2017]

SOUTH AFRICA - The outbreak of avian influenza in the Western Cape has led to the culling of more than 300,000 chickens in the past two months.

IOL reports that according to industry experts, the number of culled chickens will not necessarily result in a shortage of poultry or an increase in the price in the short term, but it can have ramifications in the long term.

New cases were detected on a poultry farm in the Paardeberg region in the Western Cape. The province's department of agriculture reported on Monday that at least 30,000 chickens had died, while a further 110,000 have had to be culled, following the reports.

The national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said avian flu, which was first detected in Villiers in the Free State and Standerton in Mpumalanga, had already impacted on the industry. "All the affected farms have been placed under quarantine," the department said.
Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the affected farms had been quarantined.

"Three ostrich farms are quarantined in the Heidelberg region, as well as one farm in the Paardeberg region. And we are conducting tests, because it is contagious. We are also asking people to notify us if they are picking anything up," he said.

Paul Makube, a senior agricultural economist at First National Bank, said the outbreak could force small poultry producers out of business.

"The country has just come out of the drought, so the small players will not survive the avian flu, if it is not contained. This will lead to job losses and put a serious dent in the price of chicken in the long run," Mr Makube said.

He added that in the short term local demand could be met by imports, but this would result in local producers losing market share. Poultry producer Astral Foods reported last week that the outbreak had set the company back R50million since it was detected on its farms in June.

But South Africa is not the only country fighting the disease. The World Health Organisation has reported avian influenza in the US, Hong Kong, China and in some parts of Europe and Africa.

"Unfortunately, the authorities cannot tell in advance where the next outbreak will occur. They can only try to contain it once the disease has been reported," Mr Makube said.

The KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of the National African Farmers Union said although the province had not recorded any new cases, it was important for small farmers to be given training on how to deal with the avian flu outbreak if it was detected on their farms.



 S. Africa culls 60 000 birds as avian flu lands [African Independent, 31 Aug, 2017]

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South Africa has registered 16 outbreaks, two occurred in Mpumalanga and Gauteng in June. (File Picture: ANA)

South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said on Wednesday that it is contemplating the option of vaccination to stop the spread of avian flu.

The latest province to be hard hit by a highly contagious strain of bird flu is the Western Cape.

The country has registered 16 outbreaks, two occurred in Mpumalanga and Gauteng in June.

"Approximately 60 000 birds have been culled on the farm," Ziyanda Majokweni, director of Poultry Disease Management Agency at the South African Poultry Association, said at a media briefing in Johannesburg.

She added that the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus was detected on a commercial layer poultry farm on Aug. 17.

DAFF said the department was considering vaccinating most of the affected areas.

"It is a decision (vaccination) that should be based on scientific research for the long-term benefit of the sector and the country. But we are considering it, as the impact is wide," said Senzeni Zokwana, DAFF minister.

A final decision about vaccination will be made available at the end of next month, the minister said.

Meanwhile, DAFF has adopted stringent measures to halt the spread of bird flu from the affected areas, including placing farms under quarantine, destroying the eggs and depopulating the affected sites.

In South Africa, outbreaks of the virus have been reported in various parts of the country.

Ten of the outbreaks were in the area of commercial chickens, three in ostrich, three in backyard chickens and eight in wild birds and pet birds.

According to the World Health Organization, no human cases have been reported as caused by bird flu.

"The World Organization for Animal Health and World Health Organization have both confirmed that the specific strain does not affect human beings," Zokwana said.

In June, DAFF suspended the sale of live chickens in the country following the outbreak of the highly pathogenic strain.
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 18 till 30 Aug 2017


PHOTO ESSAY: Bird flu grounds racing pigeons [Independent Online, 30 Aug, 2017]

by YOLISA TSWANYA AND NALEDI MOHONO

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GROUNDED: Owners of racing pigeons have been urged to keep their birds indoors out of concern about the avian flu outbreak. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

Cape Town - The recent outbreak of the avian flu virus has the racing pigeon industry all aflutter after they were told to keep their birds indoors.

The South African National Pigeon Organisation (Sanpo) said they had decided to heed to recommendations made by the provincial department of agriculture.

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Saliem Hendricks has dozens of racing pigeons at his Bo-Kaap house. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

Spokesperson for MEC Alan Winde, Bronwynne Jooste, said they recommended that any movement of birds be limited as far as possible.

“Movement must be covered by a movement permit if coming from within 30km of an infected farm. This permit can be obtained from a local state vet. Bird owners should be aware that as soon as their birds travel, they are at increased risk of catching avian influenza and spreading it.”

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Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained racing pigeons, which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

The department said there had been 13 outbreaks in South Africa since June. These involved seven commercial chicken farms, two groups of backyard chickens, three sets of wild birds and one group of domestic geese.

The H5N8 strain of the disease has already wreaked havoc in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe, where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.

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Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained racing pigeons, which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

This strain of the virus has so far shown no sign of being infectious to people.

Sanpo president Fadiel Hendricks said they decided to listen to the recommendation, to protect themselves.

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Latifah Hendricks, 3, with her grandfather's racing pigeons. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

“We have an understanding that you can race, but if something happened and a pigeon gets killed and tested and it’s found to have avian flu in the pigeon, then pigeons from that area will be culled. So for now, there is no racing.”

He said they “found themselves in a disaster especially in the Western Cape” and it was beyond their control.

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Latifah Hendricks, 3, with her grandfather's racing pigeons. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

“We can’t control certain diseases in the wild. It is a fear, but as custodians of the sport we have to listen to what the vets and authorities are saying.”

He said some members were concerned about losing points and their national colours were at stake.

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Latifah Hendricks, 3, with her grandfather's racing pigeons. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

The official vet for the organisation, Ockert Botha, said: “Scientific evidence is clear that currently there is no evidence that avian flu affects domesticated pigeons, or that they play a role in carrying the disease and therefore are a threat to the poultry industry. However, we are being ever vigilant of the importance of the disease.”

Botha said all pigeons in the area would be vaccinated against other viruses.

“We are being proactive about it.”



 PREVIEW: Bird flu in Vryheid, 60000 chickens destroyed [Vryheid Herald, 30 Aug, 2017]

Birds had begun showing symptoms of influenza in a commercial layer house about two weeks ago.

EGGBERT Eggs has euthanized 60 000 birds after some of its layer chickens tested positive for bird flu (HPAI H5N8).

General manager for Eggbert Eggs, Gawie Rossouw, confirmed in an official press statement released on Tuesday that five birds had begun showing symptoms of influenza in one layer house about two weeks ago.

The Eggbert team wished to reassure the public that all eggs and manure were contained and disposed of according to the prescribed rules and regulations, and the site in question has been closed off and placed under quarantine.

Members of the public are also requested to report any sightings of higher than usual levels of chicken or wild bird mortalities. Contact you veterinarian or the state veterinarian for assistance.

Full story, including report from the South African Poultry Association, in the Vryheid Herald newspaper.



 Reactivation of GenSan’s anti-bird flu task force set [Minda News, 30 Aug, 2017]

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The city government is set to reactivate its special task force against avian influenza or bird flu as it moves to maintain the entire area free from the viral disease.

Dr. Antonio Marin, chief of the City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO), said preparations are underway for the reactivation of the General Santos City Avian Influenza Task Force (GSCAITF) in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12.

He said City Mayor Ronnel Rivera has scheduled a meeting with concerned stakeholders on Sept. 7 for the revival of the task force.

The official said the GSCAITF will be headed by the mayor and composed of officials and representatives from the CVO, DA, City Agriculture Office, City Health Office, city police, Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan and the city poultry raisers association.

“We are initially planning to hold a series of trainings for task force members and the city’s quick response team (QRT),” he said.

Marin said the trainings will include mechanisms on monitoring and surveillance activities, and the proper use of prescribed personal protective equipment or PPE.

He said QRT and GSCAITF members will utilize the PPEs in taking blood samples from chickens and birds that could be infected by the disease.

The task force and QRT are tasked to respond and handle cases of possible bird flu outbreaks within the city’s 26 barangays.

The team will spearhead the implementation of quarantine measures, collection of samples and proper testing for suspected cases.

“The collected blood samples would be sent to the DA laboratory in (Barangay) Lagao for confirmatory tests,” Marin said.

He was referring to DA-12’s Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory here.

As of Tuesday, the official said the city remains free from bird flu, which could potentially affect humans, and measures are being undertaken to prevent the entry of the disease in the area.

DA-12’s Veterinary Quarantine Services has been closely monitoring the city airport, Makar port and the public transport terminals for the possible shipment or movement of live fowl and poultry products from bird flu affected areas in Luzon.

The agency earlier quarantined a shipment of fighting cocks that entered the city through a commercial flight from Manila.

CVO personnel had monitored suspicious deaths among chickens in parts of the city but were eventually ruled to be cases of the Newcastle disease. (MindaNews)



 TESTS BEING CARRIED OUT IN WC AREAS HIT BY BIRD FLU [Eyewitness News, 29 Aug, 2017]

by Ilze-Marie Le Roux

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Cases of bird flu have been confirmed in the Western Cape. Picture: www.elsenburg.com.

Provincial Agricultural MEC Alan Winde says affected farms have been quarantined.

CAPE TOWN – Ongoing tests are being carried out in areas in the Western Cape which have seen an outbreak of bird flu.

Fresh cases of avian flu have been detected on a poultry farm in the Paardeberg region.

At least 30,000 chickens have died while a further 110,000 have had to be culled.
Provincial Agricultural MEC Alan Winde says affected farms have been quarantined.

“Three ostrich farms are quarantined in the Heidelberg region and as well as one farm in the Paardeberg region. And obviously we’re conducting tests because it’s contagious.

“We’re also asking for people to tell us if they are picking anything up.”



 BREAKING NEWS: Pretoria child diagnosed with bird flu [Centurion Rekord 29 Aug, 2017]

by Jason Milford

INFOGRAPH: Parents were advised to visit a doctor without delay should a child fell ill.

Bird flu has reared its head at a school in Centurion.

Laerskool Hennopspark principal Jannie Raath confirmed that a warning to this effect had been sent to parents last week.

“A learner of this school was yesterday diagnosed with bird flu,” he wrote in a circular to parents.

“One of her parents brought this to my attention and I felt the responsible thing to do would be to bring this to the attention of all parents. Without panicking – there is no outbreak – it is vital to be aware of the matter.”

Raath advised parents to visit a doctor without delay should a child fell ill.

Earlier this year, a huge outbreak of bird flu among poultry occurred in various parts of South Africa, but no humans were reported to be diagnosed with the disease.

The department of health did not respond to enquiries at the time of publishing.

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 Duterte commends DA for fast action against bird flu [Sun.Star 29 Aug, 2017]

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- President Rodrigo Duterte commended on Monday, August 28, the Department of Agriculture (DA) officials for their "quick" and "decisive" action in containing the bird flu outbreak. "I commend the DA officials for their quick and decisive action in squarely confronting and containing the avian flu outbreak," Duterte said during his visit in this Pampanga capital city.

Duterte said the DA would extend assistance to affected poultry farms, through interventions like loans and capacity-building trainings.

The President added that awareness drives on avian influenza would be strengthened nationwide to avoid public's speculation and confusion regarding the Influenza A H5N6 virus.

"We ask the full cooperation and assistance, not only of the poultry industry, but also of the general public, to make sure that disease outbreaks such as this are reported to authorities at the onset of its occurrence," the President said. "Our goal is clear and simple: Put the industry firmly back into the path of high growth and progress so that it can continue to contribute to our nation's food security and to our economic growth," he added.

The bird flu outbreak has affected the poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the spread of the virus resulted in the depopulation of 421,132 fowls in San Luis, Pampanga; 70,576 in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, and 100,421 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. Piñol reassured the public that poultry goods are now free from avian flu. (Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)



 Bird flu reaches 24 outbreaks in SA [Farmer's Weekly, 29 Aug, 2017]

chicken-farm-696x432.jpg


Despite efforts by government and the commercial poultry and ostrich industries to control the disease, there were now 24 confirmed outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) since late June 2017.

A Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) statement said that there had been 10 outbreaks in commercial poultry, three in commercial ostriches, five in wild birds, three in hobby aviaries, and three in backyard poultry flocks.

“All affected properties have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures have commenced. The continued cooperation of the public and the poultry industry in the timeous reporting of sick and dying birds to government veterinary services is vital for the effectiveness of disease control measures instituted,” said DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo.

Regarding possible compensation to be paid out by government to HPAI-affected farming operations, the DAFF statement said that draft guidelines and principles determining compensation had been completed, and were awaiting ministerial approval. The guidelines would be released publically by 1 September.

“The [poultry] industry also requested to be given permission to import fertile eggs to close the supply gap as a result of culled birds. Only one company has submitted an application for the importation of hatching eggs. The department is still performing the prescribed risk analyses to determine the appropriate level of risk,” Molapo said.

She explained that DAFF needed to first conduct a thorough risk assessment to ensure that importing hatching eggs would not expose SA to additional disease risk.

There were reportedly two options that DAFF had so far developed, which would be presented to SA’s poultry industry for consideration.

The first was for “risk mitigation to be conducted in South Africa through stringent quarantine measures on arrival of the hatching eggs from their country of origin”.

The second was for stringent quarantine measures to be implemented in the country from which the hatching eggs were to be exported. These eggs would have to originate from compartments that were DAFF-certified free of diseases.



 Should you be afraid of 'bird flu'? Expert explains avian influenza [ABS-CBN News, 29 Aug, 2017]

The Philippines has recently recorded its first bird flu outbreak in Pampanga, raising alarms on the possibility of transmitting the virus from fowls to humans.

Although some strains of the avian influenza is transmittable to humans, Dr. Gundo Weiler of the World Health Organization explains that the chance is usually minimal.

"There are human cases that occur. First, we have to acknowledge that influenza virus among the bird population are circulating quite wildly as we have influenza viruses among humans but only a few of those viruses have the ability to jump onto humans," he said in an interview on ANC.

Weiler added that the spread of the virus from one country to country can usually happen due to migration of birds and that human infection usually occurs due to direct contact with infected birds.

The Department of Agriculture earlier confirmed that the bird flu strain found in Pampanga was an H5N6, a virus that is transmittable to humans but has a low rate of human-to-human transmission. No Filipino has tested positive for the virus.

"This is really not about trying to eradicate all influenza viruses among birds...but it's about being vigilant, understanding early on if there are signs for unusual influenza epidemic among birds and poultry and reacting very quickly," Weiler said.



 DOH Clears 34 Suspected Bird Flu Patients [NewsBeat Social, 28 Aug, 2017]

UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — The Philippine Department of Health is monitoring suspected bird flu transmissions, but there are no confirmed human cases of the virus in this month’s outbreak.

On Aug. 10, authorities announced tens of thousands of birds on several farms in the Pampanga province were infected with avian flu.

Officials said 200,000 birds would be slaughtered in the region to prevent transmission to humans and further outbreak.

Authorities said the bird flu strain that has hit the Philippines is the H5N6 strain, but added the likelihood that it transmits from birds to humans is low.

On Aug. 25, the DOH said 34 suspected cases of human infection tested negative for the virus.

According to the department, all the patients were farmworkers in culling operations who had displayed flu-like symptoms.

The DOH is monitoring another seven suspected cases.



 Philippine leader feasts on chicken to allay bird flu scare [Washington Post 28 Aug, 2017]

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ate grilled chicken, duck and eggs with other officials on Monday to help allay fears caused by the country’s first large outbreak of avian flu.

Accompanied by his health and agriculture secretaries and other officials, Duterte traveled to northern Pampanga province and feasted with his bare hands on the poultry, spread on banana leaves in a traditional feast in front of journalists and TV cameras.

“If it’s really your time, it doesn’t matter what you eat,” Duterte told the audience in jest.

Authorities killed more than 600,000 chickens, ducks, quails, pigeons and game fowls at the height of the outbreak this month in poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces, causing a drop in prices and consumption along with misery for farm owners and workers.

“I assure the public that the poultry products in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are safe for consumption,” Duterte said. He announced financial aid and loans to help affected businesses and workers recover.

Duterte thanked more than 300 soldiers and policemen who helped contain the outbreak.

Philippine agricultural officials said tests by an Australian laboratory showed the avian flu strain in Pampanga’s hard-hit town of San Luis was H5N6, a type that was discovered in China in 2005 and can be transmitted to humans.

The rate of past transmissions to humans, however, was very low, they said. More than 40 people were suspected of having been infected because of flu-like symptoms, but all tested negative for the virus, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.

Health officials, however, will continue surveillance in affected towns until early next month, she said.



 Avian Influenza Detected on Cape Poultry Farm [ThePoultrySite.com, 28 Aug, 2017]

3225_HPAIVirus.jpg


SOUTH AFRICA - The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a commercial layer poultry farm.

The farm has been placed under quarantine, the Western Cape government said on Sunday.

AllAfrica reports that over 10 000 chickens have already died and culling of the rest at the farm and composting of mortalities has already been started.

"The virus has not yet been confirmed as H5N8, which is the strain in outbreaks in other parts of the country. However, the H5 typing, and the nature of its effect on chickens, is indicative of it being the H5N8 strain," the Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said.

The cause is most likely through contact with wild birds. Mr Winde said the virus presents a challenge to control due to the wild birds.

Avian influenza is a viral respiratory disease amongst birds, believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds.

It is primarily spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds, or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials.

The virus is present in the faeces of infected birds and in discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes.

The H5N8 strain of the disease has already wreaked havoc in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.

Mr Winde said the vets are working hard to contain the spread in the province.

In Heidelberg, three ostrich farms have tested positive. No birds have died on the farms. The affected farms remain under quarantine.

"This is a priority for the poultry industry, and the entire agriculture sector. The outbreak and the current drought have made agriculture a tough space to be in. This is a particularly difficult time for those affected farms, which are important employers. This is why we ask all stakeholders to continue working with us to mitigate the impact of this outbreak on our economy," said Mr Winde.

The provincial government has put in place the following control measures:

Farms within a 3km zone of an infected farm will be monitored closely and subjected to the control measures as laid out by the National Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

It is strongly recommended that any movement of pet birds, racing pigeons, breeding birds and show birds be limited as far as possible and covered by a movement permit if coming from within 30km of an infected farm;

Sick or dead birds - both wild birds and poultry - must be reported to local state vets. Contact details can be found at http://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services-0#s=Animal-Health-and-Disease-Control

Exports of poultry and poultry products have been suspended except from poultry compartments registered with DAFF, or where a country's import permit contains clauses that are able to be signed by a certifying veterinarian.

Meanwhile, Mr Winde said poultry products available in supermarkets and stores do not pose a risk to human health as a result of this strain of avian influenza.



 30 000 chickens killed by avian flu in Western Cape [Independent Online, 28 Aug, 2017]

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a href="/_images/blog/_560/mat-important-issues/620x349-51270.jpg" target="_blank">620x349.jpg
Avian flu has killed at least 30 000 chickens in the province. Picture: EPA

Cape Town - Avian flu has spread to a commercial layer poultry farm in the province, killing at least 30 000 chickens.

There are 140 000 chickens on the affected farm in the Paardeberg region, according to the provincial department of agriculture head of communication, Petro van Rhyn.

She confirmed that at least 30 000 have died and said the rest would be culled.

The virus has not yet been confirmed as the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) type
H5N8, which is the strain in outbreaks in other parts of the country.

However, the H5 typing, and the nature of its effect on chickens, is indicative of it being the H5N8 strain, according to the department.

In Heidelberg, three ostrich farms have tested positive for avian flu. No birds have died on the farms but they remain under quarantine. The two farms each have about 1000 ostriches.

Van Rhyn said no decision to cull ostriches has been taken yet. She also said chicken in stores was safe for consumption.

Bronwynne Jooste, spokesperson for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture MEC Alan Winde, said culling of the rest of the chickens and composting of mortalities had already been started.

Last week, the department’s Veterinary Services programme confirmed the disease had spread to the farm.

“The cause is most likely through contact with wild birds. Since then, meetings with poultry veterinarians and stakeholders such as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases have taken place,” Jooste said.

The farm has been placed under quarantine.

She said farms within a 3km zone of an infected farm would be monitored closely and subjected to the control measures as laid out by the national Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Daff)

“It is strongly recommended that any movement of pet birds, racing pigeons, breeding birds and show birds be limited as far as possible and covered by a movement permit if coming from within 30km of an infected farm,” said Jooste.

Sick or dead birds - both wild birds and poultry - must be reported to local state vets, and exports of poultry and poultry products have been suspended except from poultry compartments registered with Daff, or where a country’s import permit contains clauses that are able to be signed by a certifying veterinarian.

Winde said the virus presented a challenge to control, but the vets were working hard to contain the spread.

“This is a priority for the poultry industry, and the entire agriculture sector. The outbreak and the current drought have made agriculture a tough space to be in.

“This is a particularly difficult time for those affected farms, which are important employers.

This is why we ask all stakeholders to continue working with us to mitigate the impact of this outbreak on our economy,” Winde said.

Avian flu is a viral respiratory disease among birds, believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds. The H5N8 strain of the disease has already wreaked havoc in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe, where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.

Bomikazi Molapo, spokesperson for Daff Minister Senzeni Zokwana, said South Africa had reported eight further cases of HPAI H5N8 to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

This brings the total number of outbreaks to 24 since June this year.

“All affected properties have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures have commenced,” she said.

The poultry industry raised concerns relating to the principles and guidelines of compensating affected farms during a meeting with Zokwana last week.

The draft guidelines have been completed and are subject to ministerial approval, Molapo said.

The approved guidelines will be released by September 1.

“The industry also requested to be given permission to import fertile eggs to close the supply gap as a result of culled birds. Only one company has submitted an application for the importation of hatching eggs; the department is still performing the prescribed risk analyses to determine the appropriate level of risk.

“We need to conduct a thorough risk assessment in order to avoid exposing the country to other disease risks,” Molapo said.

There are two options which will be presented to the poultry industry - the first is for risk mitigation to be conducted in SA through stringent quarantine measures on arrival of the hatching eggs from their country of origin.

The second option is for stringent quarantine measures in the country of origin where eggs will come from compartments free of specified diseases that Daff will approve, with less stringent post-arrival quarantine measures.



 South Africa: Western Cape Agriculture On Outbreak of Avian Influenza in Western Cape Poultry Farm [AllAfrica.com 27 Aug, 2017]

PRESS RELEASE

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a commercial layer poultry farm in the province.

On Tuesday (22 August 2017), the Department's Veterinary Services programme confirmed the disease had spread to a farm in the Paardeberg region. The cause is most likely through contact with wild birds. Since then, meetings with poultry veterinarians and stakeholders such as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases have taken place.

Over 10 000 chickens have already died and culling of the rest of the farm and composting of mortalities has already been started.

The farm has been placed under quarantine.

The virus has not yet been confirmed as H5N8, which is the strain in outbreaks in other parts of the country. However, the H5 typing, and the nature of its effect on chickens, is indicative of it being the H5N8 strain.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, was briefed on the outbreak.

Minister Winde said: "The virus presents a challenge to control due to the wild birds, but the vets are working hard to contain the spread. This is a priority for the poultry industry, and the entire agriculture sector. The outbreak and the current drought have made agriculture a tough space to be in. This is a particularly difficult time for those affected farms, which are important employers. This is why we ask all stakeholders to continue working with us to mitigate the impact of this outbreak on our economy."

In Heidelberg, three ostrich farms have tested positive. No birds have died on the farms. The affected farms remain under quarantine.

Poultry products available in supermarkets and stores do not pose a risk to human health as a result of this strain of avian influenza.

The following control measures have been implemented:

Farms within a 3km zone of an infected farm will be monitored closely and subjected to the control measures as laid out by the National Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry;

It is strongly recommended that any movement of pet birds, racing pigeons, breeding birds and show birds be limited as far as possible and covered by a movement permit if coming from within 30km of an infected farm;

Sick or dead birds - both wild birds and poultry - must be reported to local state vets. Contact details can be found at http://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services-0#s.

Exports of poultry and poultry products have been suspended except from poultry compartments registered with DAFF, or where a country's import permit contains clauses that are able to be signed by a certifying veterinarian.

Avian influenza is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 35 of 1984.

It is a viral respiratory disease amongst birds, believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds.

The H5N8 strain of the disease has already wreaked havoc in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.

Avian influenza is primarily spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds, or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials. The virus is present in the faeces of infected birds and in discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes. The virus can spread into domestic flocks kept outdoors through faecal contamination from wild birds, whereas infection among indoor flocks is spread via airborne discharges and faeces.
Issued by: Western Cape Agriculture



 Eight new outbreaks of bird flu in South Africa [eNCA, 26 Aug, 2017]

2014-11-18T162533Z_861480406_GM1EABJ013L01_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-BIRDFLU.jpg
File: The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said all affected properties have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures have commenced. Photo: REUTERS / Darren Staples

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa reported eight more cases of the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) said.

“These new outbreaks bring the total number of outbreaks to 24 since June 2017. Ten outbreaks in commercial chickens, three outbreaks in commercial ostrich, five outbreaks in wild birds, three outbreak in birds that were kept as a hobby and three outbreaks in backyard poultry,” spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said in a statement on Friday.

“All affected properties have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures have commenced. The continued cooperation of the public and the poultry industry, in the timeous reporting of sick and dying birds to Government Veterinary Services, is vital for the effectiveness of disease control measures instituted. DAFF therefore thanks the public and the poultry industry for their support in this regard.”

Molapo said that in his meeting with the industry on Monday, Minister Senzeni Zokwana, they raised concerns on compensation and guidelines relating to the principles and guidelines of compensating affected farms.

He said that the draft guidelines had been completed and were subject to ministerial approval. The approved guidelines would be released to the industry and public by September 1.

“The industry also requested to be given permission to import fertile eggs to close the supply gap as a result of culled birds. Only one company has submitted an application on 24 August 2017 for the importation of hatching eggs; the department is still performing the prescribed risk analyses to determine the appropriate level of risk,” Molapo said.

“We need to conduct a thorough risk assessment in order to avoid exposing the country to other disease risks. The basic work has been conducted and there are two options which will be presented to the poultry industry. The first one is for the risk mitigation to be conducted in South Africa through stringent quarantine measures on arrival of the hatching eggs from their country of origin.”

Molapo said that the second option would be for stringent quarantine measures in the country of origin where eggs will come from compartments free of specified diseases that DAFF would approve, with less stringent post arrival quarantine measures.

African News Agency



 Task Force Avian Influenza continues monitoring [Sun.Star, 26 Aug, 2017]

THE Task Force Avian Influenza continues its monitoring despite Zamboanga City remains free of bird flu virus. Dr. Mario Arriola, city veterinarian officer, said the monitoring covers migratory birds since the month of September nears when these birds flock to the wetlands of the city.

The veterinarian said there were reported sudden mortality at a poultry farm in the village of Cabaluay but laboratory analysis on blood samples taken yielded negative of bird flu. The Zamboanga City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is pushing for the approval of the budgetary program prepared by the Task Force Avian Influenza in preparation for any contingency as regards bird flu in this city. Arriola presented the task force’s budgetary program for the conduct of surveillance and monitoring, including information and education campaigns, and more particularly in preparation for the possible escalation of the problem. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)



 Philippines watching suspected bird flu cases in humans [Reuters, 25 Aug, 2017]

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines started monitoring suspected bird flu cases in humans on Friday after 34 farm workers in two towns north of the capital Manila developed flu-like symptoms after direct exposure to infected fowl.

Officials from the Departments of Health and Agriculture said laboratory tests in Australia confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N6 strain of the bird flu virus. The strain is transmissible to humans, but the mortality rate is low.

Health Minister Paulyn Ubial told a news conference the 34 suspected cases of bird flu infection in humans were detected in provinces of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija, on the main Philippine island of Luzon, north of the capital Manila.

“They developed fever, cough and cold,” she said, adding some of them had diarrhea.

“All of them had direct exposure to fowls and they developed common symptoms of influenza.

They were already given medicines but we are now monitoring their conditions.”

The Philippines has culled more than 470,000 chickens, ducks and quails in three towns in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija since Aug. 11, a day after government confirmed the first bird flu outbreak in the country.

Nearly 500 soldiers have been mobilized to speed up the culling of infected fowl in about 40 farms in the town of San Luis in Pampanga and in San Isidro and Jaen in Nueva Ecija.

The Philippines joins countries in Asia, Europe and Africa that have had bird flu outbreaks in recent months. Many strains only infect birds, but the H7N9 strain has led to human cases, including deaths, in China.



 H5N6 strain risk to humans only thru direct contact with sick bird [Sun.Star, 25 Aug, 2017]

By BOMIE LANE S. CASTILLO

THE Department of Health (DOH)-Davao said it will work closely with DOH-Central Office and Department of Agriculture (DA) in monitoring any possible human case of avian influenza (bird flu) in the region after it was confirmed that the influenza strain that hit poultry and other domestic fowls in San Luis, Pampanga was that of the H5N6 strain.

DA announced on Thursday, August 24, that blood samples of the dead fowls from AI-affected areas were sent to Australia last week and was confirmed to be H5N6, which is transmissible to humans.

There is every reason to be cautious, DOH-Davao director Abdulla Dumama Jr. said, but not to panic. "Transmission from person to person occurs when there is close contact with infected live or dead birds. The mortality rate of this state is also low," Dr. Dumama said.

Meaning, the human must have touched of the infected bird or its carcass or was within sneezing distance of the bird for infection to be possible.

Since it is also flu season, then extra caution with diagnosis is advised. "H5N6 viruses have caused severe infection in humans, and thus far, human infections with the virus seem to be sporadic with no ongoing human-to-human transmission," the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Meaning, from the cases reported worldwide, viral infection only comes with direct contact with the infected bird.

Dumama said this is no reason to be complacent and thus urged the public, local government units, and other concerned government agencies to remain vigilant in assessing the health of the public to prevent the spread of the virus.

World Health Organization (WHO) said a person affected by H5N6 will usually experience respiratory problems such as pneumonia and heavy coughing.

The person will also manifest non-respiratory signs such as stomachache and vomiting.

There is no confirmed case of H5N6 in a patient yet, Dumama said, thus following simple procedures especially when dealing with domesticated birds and poultry farms is a must. "To all travellers returning from affected areas who experience sickness, fever, sore throat, cough, and muscle pain should seek medical consultation and go to the nearest health center to inform them of their travel history for correct diagnosis and treatment," he said.

He added that eating chicken and other poultry products is safe as long as it is properly prepared and cooked as bird flu virus is sensitive to heat and will kill them. Public are also advised to practice proper hand washing with soap and water as this serves as the universal precaution in reducing the risk of being infected with any common infection.

LAB TESTS AWAITED

Meanwhile, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) Director Dr. Soccoro Lupisan said they are still waiting for the laboratory test results on the samples from seven "suspect cases". "There are seven new samples from suspected cases.

They get isolated until we get negative results.

That is our standard procedure," said Lupisan in an interview in Metro Manila. She said the seven became suspect cases after they manifested fever, cough, and cold, and other flu-like symptoms.

The DOH earlier defined "suspect cases" as those who showed flu-like symptoms and have had direct contact with bird-flu infected animals.

Prior to the seven new cases, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said there have already been 34 other suspect cases reported to them.

Of the 34 suspect cases reported since the Department of Agriculture's (DA) declaration of the bird flu outbreaks, the DOH said 30 were found in Pampanga while the remaining four were from Nueva Ecija. "As of August 24, all were negative for Influenza A H5N6," said Ubial in a press conference. In early August, the DA declared a bird flu outbreak in San Luis, Pampanga.

Subsequently, it reported that it also found cases of bird flu cases in two farms in Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija.

On Thursday, the DA confirmed that the bird flu strain that hit the country can be transmitted to humans although the rate of transmission is "very, very low".

This was seconded by the DOH, which said that there has been proof of the "very, very low" transmission rate in China in 2014. "There was a transmission to humans in China for H5N6. It's a very rare bird to human transmission. In fact, only 20 cases were recorded," Ubial said.

In addition, the health chief said the H5N6 is not fatal to humans, unlike to birds and fowls.

"There were only two deaths out of 20 (in China). So for humans, H5N6 is not fatal as opposed to other types of avian influenza," said Ubial.

Authorities have culled nearly 800,000 poultry in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija since the start of the bird flu outbreak. HDT/SunStar Philippines



 H5N6 confirmed in Philippines avian flu outbreak [CIDRAP, 24 Aug, 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring

chicken_head_shoulders.jpg


Tests on samples collected in recent highly pathogenic H5 outbreaks in Philippines poultry, the country's first, reveal the H5N6 subtype, based on follow-up tests done at an Australian laboratory.

In other avian flu developments, South Africa, Italy, and Taiwan reported more H5 outbreaks.

No human illnesses so far

The Philippines agriculture ministry announced results today on its Web site, according to a statement posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. H5N6 has been linked to 17 human illnesses, all in China. Earlier this year, Myanmar and Taiwan reported their first H5N6 outbreaks in birds, marking increased spread of the virus in Asia.

Manny Pinol, the Philippines' agriculture secretary, said culling has been completed at outbreak sites in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces, both located on Luzon, the country's largest island.

Arlene Vytiaco, with the country's Bureau of Animal Industry, said no workers on the affected poultry farms have showed signs of illness.

Outbreaks in South Africa, Italy, Taiwan

On the heels of recent H5N8 outbreaks in poultry, South Africa reported three new H5N8 events involving poultry and an ibis, according to an Aug 22 report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Start dates for the events range from Aug 12 to Aug 15. One of the outbreaks involved backyard hobby ducks and swans in newly affected North West province, killing 5 of 62 susceptible birds.

The other two outbreaks occurred in different cities in already-affected Gauteng province. One involved backyard white geese, with the virus killing 19 of 34 birds. The other involved a sacred ibis found dead.

Meanwhile, Italy over the past 2 days has reported four more highly pathogenic H5 outbreaks, according to statements from an Italian reference lab translated and posted today by AFD.

Yesterday the lab said two more H5 outbreaks have been tested at commercial turkey farms, both in Veneto region.

On Aug 22 the lab reported two more outbreaks, one involving an H5 virus at a turkey farm in Veneto region and one linked to H5N8 at a game bird farm in Lombardy region.

After a surge of H5N8 outbreaks in the winter and spring in Europe, detections have decreased to just sporadic reports, except for Italy, which has continued to report a steady stream of outbreaks in poultry, mostly turkeys.

In Taiwan, agriculture officials today reported a highly pathogenic H5N2 outbreak at a commercial farm housing native chickens in Yunlin County. The event began on Aug 15, killing 200 of 25,305 birds.



 Health Officials Worry A Deadly Avian Flu In China Could Be Next Pandemic [HuffPost, 24 Aug, 2017]

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

The virus could mutate and spread.

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BARCROFT MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGES
Health workers act in an exercise dealing with an outbreak of H7N9 avian flu on June 17 in Hebi, China.

On March 31, 2013, the Chinese health ministry quietly notified the World Heath Organization of three mysterious deaths. After developing coughing and sneezing symptoms, the victims’ lungs had filled with fluid, and they died gasping for air. The only thing they had in common was being around live chickens. One victim worked at a poultry market, and the other two recently had shopped at one.

Tests revealed what global health officials had feared for decades: There was a new form of avian influenza. “This strain usually caused mild symptoms like redness of the eyes or low-grade respiratory problems in humans,” said Daniel Jernigan, head of the influenza division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We knew it was different and much more severe when it killed three people.”

More than four years later, the virus has spread across southern China and sickened nearly
1,560 people, nearly 40 percent of whom have died. In May, the CDC ranked the influenza strain H7N9 the highest possible threat for viruses at risk of causing a worldwide pandemic ― just a year shy of the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu outbreak that claimed nearly 50 million lives in 1918.

Although reports of new infections stopped in March, health officials are worried about the virus changing into a form that’s easily transmitted between humans. A new paper published this summer forecast the virus being three mutations away from such a reality.

“It’s slowly adapting to receptors in humans, and it can spread around the entire globe within a year by people coughing,” said Rick Bright, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the government agency in charge of medical countermeasures to national security and public health threats. By contrast, it only took about a year and a half for the 1918 pandemic to kill nearly three times as many people as died in World War I. “That’s when people were traveling on boats. The way we live now with air travel and more people in crowded cities, we could easily have a hot flash,” Bright said.

A new flu outbreak would challenge officials to develop, test, manufacture and distribute millions of doses of an influenza vaccine in time to avert mass casualties. It would also be the biggest test to date of the world’s souped-up surveillance network that has more than doubled in the last couple of decades; there are currently 140 centers in different countries that track and report virus outbreaks.

“We have to monitor this very closely because of all the viruses we have studied so far in the last 20 years, this has the highest potential to mutate to become a pandemic virus,” said Jernigan.

Although warnings of a possible flu pandemic sound terrifying, it’s still a worst-case scenario. Just as it could mutate into something more sinister, it could also become less dangerous. “It could be one of those things that we monitor effectively for the next decade or more, and it never crosses that threshold of efficiently infecting people and causing lots of sickness and death,” said Bright.

So far, the H7N9 strain hasn’t crossed the border from China, and the CDC hasn’t recommended that Americans avoid traveling there (although they should cross live chicken markets off their tour list). And the virus is frustratingly fickle. Case in point: As soon as scientists developed a vaccine for the 2013 strain to be placed into the national stockpile, the virus changed – a phenomenon known as “drift.” Now they’re trying to make another one.

Chasing the vaccine

It currently takes at least six months to produce enough vaccine to cover the U.S. population by culturing the virus in millions of chicken eggs or growing cell lines from dog kidneys. Drug companies are experimenting with other techniques, such as mapping out the virus’ genetic sequence that could shave several months off the entire process – critical days that could help avoid the fiasco of 2009, when the vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu pandemic that killed 17,000 people arrived too late.

“We’ve found ways to improve the yield from batches and figured out ways to make them faster,” said Bright, adding that the U.S. government is partnering with five pharmaceutical companies that collectively have the capacity to produce 600 million doses. (By contrast, nearly 145 million people in the U.S. are vaccinated against the seasonal flu each year.)

Health officials got a wakeup call in 2004 when an influenza strain called H5N1 spread across southeast Asia, and the George W. Bush administration launched a campaign for pandemic flu preparedness that resulted in Congress approving $5.6 billion in part to boost the nation’s drug manufacturing capacity for vaccines and stockpile anti-virals like Tamiflu to treat the sick. “We wanted to ensure our ability to protect everyone in this country and not pick and choose who were the most important,” said Bright. That was on the heels of the SARS pneumonia outbreak in 2003 that resulted in nearly 800 deaths. “We realized that if we had a severe pandemic like in 1918, we wouldn’t be prepared,” added Jernigan.

Holes in the system

Even with vaccines at the ready, the bigger problem might be distributing them using a network of state and county health agencies that are suffering from budget cuts. “How do we administer these to the entire population at once? It’s not like handing out a pill. All this takes money and people and practice, and we just don’t have that right now,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, senior associate for the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s that last mile that will be the hardest.” Hospitals that have lost federal funding for preparedness training might not be equipped to handle an influx of sick patients, either.

Yet the future of influenza prevention might not involve scrambling to reinvent a new vaccine against every threat. “The dream of the moment is to have a universal vaccine with antibodies that will neutralize every known influenza virus that we’ve tested so far,” said Robert Webster, who has studied influenza for 50 years and is emeritus faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Scientists at pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Vaccines have already started testing one version in mice and ferrets and hope to start the first phase of clinical trials within a year. “We will never eradicate flu, but we’d be in a better place to control it, like measles. You wouldn’t have to get a yearly flu shot,” said Webster.



 Australian lab result confirms bird flu in Pampanga – agriculture dept [The Manila Times, 22 Aug, 2017]

BY KENNETH HARE HERNANDEZ

AUSTRALIA has confirmed the presence of the bird flu virus in Pampanga, where the outbreak was first reported, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

The laboratory results from the World Organization for Animal Health revealed that the strain was avian influenza type A subtype H5. The same strain the Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) found in its own testing, said Pinol.

Arlene Vytiaco, DA-BAI focal person for avian influenza, said the results verified initial findings in the affected chickens in San Luis town.

“It confirmed our finding at the laboratory. Our test showed that they are positive for avian influenza type A, H5. So our findings are the same as those in Australia,” Vytiaco said.

However, the N subtype is still being verified as the samples needed to be kept in a safe and dry may

“There is still no N [sub]type because there are not enough samples and it needs to be propagated to conduct further testing, so that would take one to three days,” she said.

“We would like to know the N [subtype]so we will know what sub-type it is, but our activities will be the same. Whether it will be H5 or N7 or 5, our activities will be the same to contain the virus-like culling,” she added.

The H and N stand for Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase, which are proteins that are found on the surface of the influenza virus. The designations determine the “infectivity” of the virus.

Vytiaco said the strain that hit the chicken in both Pampanga and Nueva Ecija was not a new strain.

Most likely it is not a new strain,” she said.



 Lab in Australia confirms bird flu outbreak in Pampanga [Rappler, 22 Aug, 2017]

by Jee Y. Geronimo

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RESULTS. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol shows reporters the results of the confirmatory test on the bird flu outbreak in San Luis, Pampanga. Photo by Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler

To assure the public that there's nothing to fear amid the outbreak, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol says he will ask the President to eat balut with him in Pampanga

MANILA, Philippines – The Australian Animal Health Laboratory confirmed the presence of bird flu in San Luis, Pampanga, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

Piñol announced the results of the confirmatory test during a press conference on Tuesday, August 22.

"To debunk suggestions that we were hasty and imprudent in making the announcement, I would like to report to you that this is already the result from Australia," Piñol said.

He added: "The result of the laboratory test [from the] Australian Animal Health Laboratory confirms positive presence of bird flu in San Luis using as samples those specimens submitted by the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Animal Industry."

On August 11, when Piñol first confirmed the avian influenza or bird flu outbreak in Pampanga, he said what hit the town and killed thousands of birds is avian influenza type A subtype H5.

Arlene Vytiaco of the Bureau of Animal Industry said the N component is still for testing.

"It so happened na kinulang sila ng sample, so ipo-propagate pa 'yun to conduct further testing for the N component (It so happened that they lacked samples, so they will still have to propagate that to conduct further testing for the N component)," Vytiaco explained, adding that further testing will take 1 to 3 days.

The agriculture secretary emphasized that they hear no other reports of possible bird flu outbreaks outside San Luis, Pampanga, and the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija.

To assure the public that there's nothing to fear amid the outbreak, Piñol said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte to eat balut with him in Pampanga.

"On the suggestion of the stakeholders, and I agree with this, we will ask the President to join us whenever he's available next week in an itik, manok, and balut (duck, chicken, and fertilized duck embryo) festival in San Fernando, Pampanga," he shared.

He added: "We will ask the President to eat balut with us para ma-assure 'yung mga public na kung 'yung presidente hindi takot kumain ng balut, eh lalo pa kayo (to assure the public that if the President is not afraid to eat balut, then all the more should the public not be afraid)."

Piñol had earlier asked the President for P100 million for the poultry industries of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. On Tuesday, he said P51 million is now ready for the compensation of farm owners in San Luis.

Piñol also announced the lifting of the ban on the shipment of poultry and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the Philippines. – Rappler.com



 Bekasi bird shop owner suspected of avian flu infection [Jakarta Post, 21 Aug, 2017]

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Officials of the South Jakarta subdistrict of Gandaria Utara inspect bird coops in a residential in March 2016. The inspection was held to control the bird flu virus that attacked fowl in the area at the time. (The Jakarta Post/Seto Wardhana)

The inhabitant of a house that also serves as a bird shop on Jl. Gang Gamprit in Jatiwaringin, Bekasi, has been admitted to the hospital following indications of avian influenza.

The 30-year-old housewife complained of respiratory problems on Aug. 7 and was taken to the Cibitung Hospital two days later. Early findings at the hospital show that she might have contracted the H5N1 virus. The patient has been transferred to the Sulianti Saroso Hospital in North Jakarta, the country’s hospital tasked with confirming cases of avian flu.

Aceng, a neighbor of the family, expressed surprise over indications that the patient may have contracted the virus.

“I saw that [the family] always keep the bird cages clean,” he said as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com on Sunday.

The family had begun to sell birds three years ago, after previously selling food.

Local officials have come to inspect the house and its surroundings upon hearing about the resident’s illness, collecting four dead birds in the area.

Indonesia was among the countries with most cases of bird flu when an outbreak hit Asia in early 2000. In 2006, the country suffered a peak of contagion, with 55 human infections and 45 deaths. There were also concerns of human-to-human transmission at the time. (wit)



 Bataan cockpit arenas fall silent amid avian flu outbreak [GMA News, 20 Aug, 2017]

Cockpit arenas in Bataan fell silent on Sunday due to the province-wide temporary halt on cockfighting, brought about by the avian flu outbreak in neighboring Pampanga.

"In view of the avian influenza outbreak in Pampanga and to contain the disease in the shortest possible time, cockfighting is temporarily banned in Bataan for two weeks," Bataan Governor Albert Garcia ordered in a memorandum circular.

The Bataan Police Provincial Office thus advised all cockpit operators in the towns of Dinalupihan, Orani, Abucay, Orion, and Limay, and the City of Balanga of the temporary ban.

Though the Department of Agriculture had also prohibited cockfights in Pampanga, operations in an Apalit arena were nevertheless in full swing on Sunday.

GMA 7 news program "24 Oras Weekend" sought a statement from the Apalit Cockpit Arena's management, but they refused to comment.



 Bird flu virus slips into 2 Nueva Ecija towns [Inquirer.net, 19 Aug, 2017]

By: Julie M. Aurelio, Karl R. Ocampo

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Duck eggs shipped from Candaba, Pampanga, are thrown into the fire to be destroyed at the quarantine compound in Zamboanga City to prevent the spread of the avian flu virus. —PHOTO COURTESY OF BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY QUARANTINE SERVICES

Seven days after the government declared an avian flu outbreak in Pampanga, the authorities announced on Friday a similar outbreak in at least two towns in neighboring Nueva Ecija.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said tests confirmed that the avian flu virus strain found in San Luis, Pampanga, has also been found in the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, about 32 kilometers away.

Despite the confirmation, the Department of Health (DOH) advised the public to remain calm but vigilant since there is no threat to public health and the problem remains an animal health concern.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered a close watch on 45 bird sanctuaries ahead of the bird migration season that starts next month.

Same H5 strain

Piñol confirmed that the H5 avian flu virus strain that caused the outbreak in Pampanga also struck a layer farm in the town of San Luis (32 km away) and a quail farm in Jaen, both in Nueva Ecija.

The farm in Jaen was wiped out while the layer farm in San Isidro lost about 200,000 heads, Piñol said.

A total of 28,000 layer chickens, 22,000 ducks, 57,000 native chickens and 200,000 quails were affected by the outbreak, he said.

Piñol said the protocol that was implemented in Pampanga will also be followed in Nueva Ecija.

“A task force is set to implement the culling similar to the one done in San Luis,” said Felicito Espiritu Jr. of the Department of Agriculture’s Central Luzon regional office.

The task force will start culling chickens, ducks and other birds within a 1-km radius of the areas where the virus was found and quarantine the transport and distribution of all types of birds and their eggs within a 7-km radius.

DOH teams will also be deployed although no case of bird-to-human transmission has been reported and the two flu cases of two Pampanga farmers were determined not to be human in origin.

No health crisis

“Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial has deployed a team to Nueva Ecija following the confirmation of the outbreaks in San Isidro and Jaen,” said DOH spokesperson Dr. Enrique Tayag.

“We are in a state of heightened vigilance given this bird flu affecting feathered animals, especially chickens. We are continuously monitoring this,” he said.

“It remains an animal health problem,” Tayag said, noting personnel who will be culling infected fowl will be given the antiviral oseltamivir.

“Even if you live [in the affected areas], as long as you did not have direct contact with infected chickens, you are not included in the DOH’s monitoring,” he said.

“Let us all be vigilant by not withholding from the government any unusual deaths or illnesses in any poultry in the country, so that the DA and the DOH can take action immediately,” he said.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has ordered a quarantine on poultry from Luzon island.

In a memorandum, the PCG said the transport of fresh uncooked poultry meat must come with a shipping permit and health certificate issued by a government veterinarian.

The certificate should ensure that the products came from farms with no incidence of bird flu at least 21 days before shipment.

More than 21 tons of frozen dressed chicken from Luzon have already been held for testing in Cagayan de Oro, according to the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

Dr. Angelita Barcelona, NMIS Northern Mindanao regional director, said one meat inspector has been assigned to every NMIS-accredited poultry processing facility in Northern Mindanao to ensure slaughtered chickens do not have avian flu.

Carlene Collado, the DA regional director, said the region produces each year about 2.1 million chickens and ranks third among the chicken growers and the eighth top grower of ducks.

As for poultry farms already affected by the outbreak, Piñol said he has asked President Duterte to set aside a P100-million fund to help poultry producers.

Only one week after the quarantine, poultry farmers are already hurting.

Industry damage

Manuel Ortiz-Luis, who owns the chicken layer farm in San Isidro, said he stands to lose 70,000 chickens although his farm only recorded 20 deaths due to avian flu.

He said an egg-laying chicken costs P300 and the DA’s compensation of P80 per bird will not cover losses.

The industry group Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura (Sinag) urged the agriculture department to clarify the situation of poultries within the 7-km controlled zone.

“The secretary said they should be contained. But what about those who do not have suspected virus? Why curtail the movement of their products? What will happen to the livelihood of these people?” asked Sinag chair Rosendo So.

Since news of the avian flu outbreak, So said farm-gate prices of chickens have declined by 50 percent to P35-40 from P80-90, which is way below the farmers’ cost of production.

However, the prices of chicken meat in Metro Manila remain high. So urged the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry to lower chicken prices to P80-90 so consumers can at least benefit from the lose-lose scenario.

“This should be reflected in the retail prices because right now, there is an obvious disconnect from farm-gate prices to retail,” So said.

The DENR started watching migratory bird sanctuaries ahead of the arrival of migratory birds from China.

DENR regional official Oliver Viado said wild migratory birds worldwide naturally carry harmless avian flu viruses that can turn harmful when they go to poultry farm for food.

This will have more importance beginning next month when migratory birds start arriving in bird sanctuaries in Luzon.

These areas are wetlands and ricefields, of which nine are in Batangas, three in Cavite, 10 in Laguna and 23 in Quezon. The most common migrant bird is the Chinese egret.

19birdflu1-620x400.jpg
Hundreds of ducks swim in Laguna de Bay in Taguig City as duck raisers worry about the avian flu outbreak which has affected three towns in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. —RICHARD A. REYES

Don’t touch dead birds

Viado said the public should not even touch dead wild birds. “Avoid handling any sick or dead wild birds and keep poultry and domestic animals separate from wild birds and other wildlife,” he said.

He said migratory birds “are not the culprit” of the flu but also victims.

Calabarzon, specifically San Jose town in Batangas, is home to several poultry farms producing more than 7 million chicken eggs daily. —WITH REPORTS FROM ANSELMO ROQUE, ARMAND GALANG, TONETTE OREJAS, MARICAR CINCO, DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., JIGGER JERUSALEM AND JULIE ALIPALA



 WILD BIRDS SUSPECTED SOURCE OF AVIAN FLU OUTBREAK IN WC [Eyewitness News, 18 Aug, 2017]

by Monique Mortlock

aly9rnftfgznnjhmxsvm zzz.jpg
FILE: The Western Cape Agriculture Department has placed two ostrich farms under quarantine. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Ostrich Business Chamber says it suspects wild birds are the source of the outbreak of avian flu in the Heidelberg area.

Earlier this week, the Western Cape Agriculture Department said it has placed two ostrich farms in the area under quarantine after the Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI), type H5N8, virus reared its head.

There are about 1,000 ostriches on both farms.

Farms within a three-kilometre radius of the affected farms are also under quarantine, while heat-treated ostrich meat from farms within a 10-kilometre radius has been prohibited from being exported.

No decision to cull has been taken and discussions are ongoing.

Ostrich and chicken meat, which is safe for human consumption, continues to be on sale in stores.

Chamber CEO Piet Kleyn said: “The rest of the country can still continue to export heat-treated meat to mainly the EU. It’s unfortunate that because of the cases we can’t export fresh meat, and that also affects the situation for all the farmers around the country and the poultry also suffers because of that..”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)



 Army soldiers cull 6,000 chickens in battle vs bird flu [Inquirer.net, 18 Aug, 2017]

By: Frances G. Mangosing

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A soldier checks his personal protective equipment before he is sent to a poultry farm in San Luis, Pampanga, to help cull birds infected by the avian influenza virus. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER PHOTO

About 6,000 chickens have been culled by Army soldiers in Pampanga in less than a day after their deployment in a bid to help prevent the spread of avian flu virus.

“Initial troops from the 48th Infantry Battalion arrived late afternoon Thursday and have already culled a total of 6,000 chickens until midnight,” a statement from the Northern Luzon Command said on Friday.

The soldiers were initially trained and individually screened based on the health condition parameters set by the Department of Health before they were allowed to participate in the culling of chickens.

A total of 303 soldiers from the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and the peacekeeping operations, who arrived in batches, have been deployed to San Luis, Pampanga to help in the bird flu outbreak.

The soldiers will augment the culling of chickens conducted by the Bureau of Animal Industry and Department of Agriculture, the Nolcom said.

Fort Magsaysay Station Hospital also sent medical personnel to assist in the screening process and authorize those who can cull chickens.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol earlier sought the assistance of the Army, upon the advice of Malacañang, to help control the spread of avian flu. JPV



 Suspected bird flu cases reported in 2 Nueva Ecija towns [Philippine Star, 18 Aug, 2017]

By Ding Cervantes and Louise Maureen Simeon

suspected-bird-flu.jpg
A soldier is dressed in protective clothing by two veterinarians as other Army men watch during a safety orientation in San Luis, Pampanga yesterday. Around 300 soldiers are being tapped to help cull fowls in the town following a bird flu outbreak. MICHAEL VARCAS

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) is verifying reports of a new avian flu outbreak – this time in Jaen and San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.

In a phone interview with The STAR, Joy Lagayan of BAI’s animal disease control division said they are set to conduct tests on chickens at poultry farms in the two towns.

Jessie Fantone, chief epidemiologist of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Luzon, said he had also heard about the new avian flu cases and that he and his team are set to go to the
Paulino Garcia Hospital in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija to brief hospital workers on avian flu related concerns.

The first avian flu outbreak was reported in San Luis, Pampanga.

Fantone also urged livestock raisers to isolate their animals from avian flu affected poultries.

“Avian flu transmission to humans is rare but possible, so it is also possible that infected chickens can infect livestock,” he said.

The BAI is overseeing the culling of some 200,000 chickens in Barangay San Carlos in San Luis, Pampanga – considered avian flu ground zero.

As culling continues, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is likely to shorten the ban on the shipment of poultry products from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao and may allow the transport of goods by early September.

In a briefing yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said farmers may resume transporting their goods by the second week of September.

“We will just finish the 21-day incubation period of the virus. If there will be no similar incident, then we can already clear the shipment to other parts of the country,” Piñol said.

“If there will be no manifestation, we will declare an end to the crisis,” he added.

Due to international protocol, however, farmers within ground zero will not be able to operate within 90 days from the outbreak of the disease.

The local industry has been urging DA to immediately lift the temporary ban on transport of their produce.

Piñol again assured the public that there would be no shortage of poultry products, especially eggs, as the Christmas season nears.

“I don’t think that it will be serious because we have enough time to recover,” he said.

He also said the department has started deploying biosecurity teams to inspect all farms nationwide.

“We will conduct an audit of all existing farms starting in Pampanga. We will check the disposal of waste, disposition of chicken dung, among others. We want to improve the biosecurity inspection all over the country to prevent another outbreak,” Piñol said.

Shipment held

As the government continues to assuage public fears, more than 21 tons of frozen dressed chicken arrived in Cagayan de Oro after the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) in Manila cleared the shipment.

But despite being declared safe for human consumption, the shipment was held at a cold storage facility in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, for further test and verification, said Angelita Barcelona, NMIS-10 regional director.

She said the NMIS-10 is not taking any chances and will reexamine the frozen broiler chickens before they are released to the local market.

Frozen chicken will remain safe for consumption for at least two years if kept in cold storage, she pointed out.

The shipment of the dressed chicken to Mindanao was the first since the imposition of transport restrictions. “That’s why we will not clear it right away. If the owner will request for meat inspection certification, we will re-inspect it,” Barcelona added. The NMIS-10 did not reveal the owner of the shipment.

In Zamboanga City, the veterinary quarantine services of the BAI regional office reported having intercepted Tuesday afternoon at the port at least 35,000 incubated duck eggs for balut, which came from Candaba, Pampanga.

The eggs were kept in seven pallets when discovered by quarantine personnel during an inspection on a 2Go ferry that arrived from Manila about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

BAI’s quarantine personnel have been on high alert for unauthorized poultry shipment, especially those coming from Luzon.

One of the consignees agreed to ship back five of the pallets while the consignee of the two other pallets containing at least 9,000 eggs abandoned the cargo.

Social media help sought

Meanwhile, the president of Samahang Industriya at Agrikultura (Sinag) has urged the public, especially netizens, to use the power of social media to allay fears of bird flu.

Rosendo So said netizens can help by posting photos of themselves online eating chicken or other poultry products.

“We have a bountiful supply because very few are eating chicken,” he said in Filipino.

He said the avian flu scare has cost the poultry industry tremendous losses and it would take a massive information campaign to convince the public that eating chicken is safe.

He added that various local government units (LGUs) should also do their part in correcting public misperception.

“It must be disseminated to the people that the avian influenza in the Philippines does not affect humans while the strain of bird flu in other countries is contagious,” he said.

“Why should we import chicken from other countries which have worse case than the one in San Luis, Pampanga? In the Philippines, we could not ship chicken now to Mindanao,” he said.

“There should be total ban on importation of chicken in our country if these come from areas identified with worse avian influenza strain,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross said it is also engaged in disseminating information about avian flu.

“The Philippine Red Cross is now mobilizing all staff and 143 volunteers to monitor all communities and to spread awareness campaign on what precautions should be taken in an area affected by bird flu,” PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said.

“The volunteers are our first line of defense to report any incidents on disasters and emergencies but as well as epidemics such as bird flu,” he said. With Eva Visperas, Non Alquitran, Ric Sapnu, Roel Pareño, Gerry Lee Gorit
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小規模水力発電



 水力発電所、54年ぶり復活…村活性化へ住民ら [読売新聞、 2017年08月13日]

20170813-OYT1I50006-L.jpg
 半世紀ぶりに復活した「つくばね発電所」。105メートルの落差を利用して発電する(奈良県東吉野村で)

つくばね.jpg
 かつてのつくばね発電所=東吉野水力発電提供

奈良県東吉野村小(おむら)の山間部で、かつて林業や地域の生活を支えた水力発電所「つくばね発電所」を、住民らが54年ぶりに復活させた。

売電によって収益を上げ、地域の活性化に役立てていくという。

旧つくばね発電所は1914年(大正3年)、高見川支流の日裏川から取水し運転を開始。最大出力45キロ・ワットと小規模ながら、63年(昭和38年)に老朽化で廃止されるまで、製材業の近代化を支えた。

川の上流に設けられた当時の取水口などが残っており、国が新エネルギーとして促進する小水力発電所を建設しようと、2014年秋、住民らが新会社「東吉野水力発電」を設立。電力の小売り事業に参入している市民生活協同組合「ならコープ」の関連会社CWSから出資を受けたほか、1口約3万円の小口出資で5250万円を集めるなどし、2015年6月に着工した。総事業費は約2億1800万円。
 
新発電所は最大出力82キロ・ワット。取水口を再利用し、かつてと同じ導水ルート(約1・4キロ)に新たに管を設置。105メートルの落差を利用して水車を回転させ、発電する。水車は小水力発電で実績のあるチェコ製を採用し、7月から発電を開始した。

年間発電量は約64万キロ・ワット時で、一般家庭約180世帯分を賄えるという。関西電力に売電しており、CWSにも売る計画。発電所は東吉野キャンプ場に近いため、子どもたちに環境学習として施設を見学してもらうとともに、将来は敷地内に木製遊具を設置したいという。

5日、現地見学会と完成式があり、桜の植樹などを行った。チェコのトマーシュ・ドゥプ特命全権大使も参加し、「両国の友好関係の発展を願っている」と祝った。住民で社長を務める森田康照さん(66)は「100年以上前に発電を始めた先人たちも喜んでくれるだろう。若者が定住する、魅力ある村づくりの新しい息吹にしたい」と喜んだ。(熱田純一)



 自然エネルギー: 北海道初の農業水路で小水力発電、売電収益で農業を守る [スマートジャパン、 2017年08月08日]

北海道の土地改良区で、道内初となる農業用水路を利用した小水力発電所が完成した。冬期はほとんど農業用水を使用しないため、施設の稼働期間が限定されてしまうという北海道特有の問題を、水利権の確保の工夫でクリアした。売電収益を改良区内の施設の維持管理費に充てることで、農家の負担軽減にもつながる。  [陰山遼将,スマートジャパン]

北海道旭川市および上川郡当麻町に位置する「当麻永山用水地区」に、農業用水路を活用した小水力発電所「当永発電所」が完成した。北海道開発局の旭川開発建設部が国営かんがい排水事業のもとで建設した発電所で、旭川市内と土地改良区が北海道電力に売電を行い、その収益を用水路の維持管理費に充てる計画だ。農業用水路を活用した小水力発電所は、道内で初の事例になるという。

当麻永山用水地区は国営かんがい排水事業に基づく改良区だ。水稲、大豆、そば、野菜、トマト、スイカなどの生産が定着している。一方で農業水利施設の多くは、建設以来30年以上を経過しているものが多く、さらに凍害などによって老化が進行。漏水や分水位の低下などで安定した用水供給が困難になることを防ぐための改修費が増大していた。

さらに、電気料金の上昇などもあり、同地区における施設の適正な管理は難しい状況にあった。そこで既存の農業用水路を活用した小水力発電所を建設し、売電収益を活用して維持管理費の低減を図ろうという狙いだ。

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 当麻永山用水地区の概要

旭川建設部によると、2016年5月時点までに全国65地区で農業用水路を利用した小水力発電が行われている。一方、北海道内には多くの農業水利施設があるものの、小水力発電の導入が進んでいない。冬期はほとんど農業用水を使用しないため、施設の稼働期間が限定されているためだ。稼働期間が短いと年間発電量が見込めないため、事業採算が採りにくい。

そこで今回は、かんがい期間の前後に新たに発電用水利権を確保することにした。通常の5~8月の水田かんがい期間に加え、4月及び9~11月の非かんがい期間の発電用水利権を取得した結果、年間を通じて十分な発電量を得られるめどが立った。1年のうち約8カ月間稼働する計画だ。

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 発電を行う期間のイメージ。赤枠の部分が新たに水利権を確保したところ 出典:旭川建設部

水路に改良を加えて発電量アップ

「当永発電所」は石狩川に設置してある大雪頭首工から取水した後、導水幹線用水路を流下する過程で発電を行う。流水はかんがい期間は農業用水として利用し、非かんがい期間は石狩川に放流する。

発電所の最大出力は139kWで、最大使用水量は6.25m3/s、年間発電量は70万8000kWh(キロワット時)を見込んでいる。FITを利用して売電することで、年間2000万円以上の収益が得られる見込みだ。

当初の水路の落差は1.5m程度だったが、落差工の統廃合や水路敷高を上げることにより、総落差を3.5mにかさ上げし、発電量の増強を図った。損失落差を差し引いた有効落差は3.15mである。

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 施工前と施工後の水路の比較 出典:旭川建設部

水車にはS型チューブラ水車を採用した。上流から取水した水で主軸とつながるランナベーンという装置を回転させる。これにより主軸が回転することで発電機が稼働し、電力を生む仕組みだ。

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 発電所の概要 出典:旭川建設部

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 導入したS型チューブラ水車 出典:旭川建設部

既設の農業インフラを利用した小水力発電を活用が、維持管理コストの低減につながるメリットは大きい。さらに、それによって土地改良区の賦課金が軽減されることで、農家経営の安定に寄与することも期待できる。



 杉並木公園に小型水力発電機 日光・学産官連携プロジェクト [下野新聞、 2017年08月08日]

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 小型水力発電「ピコピカ」の調整などを行う今市工業高の生徒たち

日光】学産官連携協定を結ぶ今市工業高と民間企業2社、市は3日、今市と瀬川にまたがる市杉並木公園で再生可能エネルギーを利用した機械などを設置する環境整備に取り組んだ。

学産官連携の3カ年プロジェクトの一環で、再生可能エネルギーの学習や人材育成、老朽化や薄暗さなどが課題の同公園内の環境改善などが目的。初年度の昨年は、水路に小型水力発電機「ピコピカ」や発光ダイオード(LED)照明灯などを設置。夜間の明るさなどを確保した。
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脱原発の動き(4)2017年6月16日以降

2017年6月16日以降

2016年6月26日以降 2017年6月15日までは ☞ 原発離れへの流れ(3) 

2016年3月4日から6月25日までは ☞ 原発離れへの流れ(2) 

2016年3月23日以前は ☞ 原発離れへの流れ(1) 




 クローズアップ2017 福島原発汚染水対策 凍土壁、効果見えず 国費345億円投入、近く完成 [毎日新聞、2017年8月15日]

東京電力福島第1原発1~4号機の周囲の土を凍らせて壁を築き、地下水の流出入を遮断する「凍土遮水壁(凍土壁)」について、原子力規制委員会は週内にも、全面凍結を認可する。当初は汚染水抑制の「切り札」とされ、世界でも類のない対策がようやく完成するが、国費345億円がつぎ込まれながら遮水効果ははっきりしない。浄化後の処理水の行方もめどが立たず、事故から6年半近くが経過してもなお、汚染水問題が廃炉作業に立ちふさがる。【柳楽未来、岡田英】

 「凍土壁はかなり効果が出てきていると実感している」。7月末の記者会見で東電福島第1廃炉推進カンパニーの増田尚宏・最高責任者は強調した。しかし、遮水効果を具体的に問われると「いくつとは言えない」と歯切れが悪かった。

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冷却液を流す配管が1~4号機を取り囲むように設置されている=2016年6月、小出洋平撮影

凍土壁は、1~4号機を囲むように1568本の凍結管を地下30メートルまで打ち込み、氷点下30度の冷却液を循環させて造る。管の周囲の土が凍ることで壁となり、地下水が原子炉建屋に流れ込むのを防ぐ。工事には延べ26万人が従事した。東電は昨年3月に凍結を開始し、既に全長約1・5キロの99%以上を凍らせ、残りは7メートルの区間だけだ。

事故当初、1日約400トン発生していた汚染水は現在では約130トンにまで減ったが、凍土壁以外にも原子炉建屋の脇にある約40本の井戸(サブドレン)から地下水をくみ上げるなどの対策を併用した結果だ。東電は凍土壁単独の効果を示せておらず、「サブドレンが主役で、凍土壁はその補助程度の効果だろう」(原子力規制庁幹部)との見方もある。汚染水発生を減らす「切り札」との位置づけは大きく後退し、凍土壁が完成しても汚染水発生量が劇的に減るとは考えにくい。

凍土壁の建設は2013年5月、外部有識者による政府の「汚染水処理対策委員会」が複数の大手ゼネコンから提案された案の中から選び、東電に指示した。その年の秋には、20年東京五輪招致のヤマ場が控えており、国が前面に出て汚染水対策に当たっていることを国際的にアピールする狙いがあった。

民間企業の事故の後処理に税金をつぎ込めば国民の反発を招きかねないが、対策委関係者は「過去に例のないチャレンジング(挑戦的)な凍土壁なら国費を出せるという実情があった」と明かす。凍土壁は小規模な実用例はあるが、1・5キロにも及ぶ規模や年単位の長期の維持は例がなかった。

当時、政府・東電は、粘土で壁を造るなどの方法に比べ、凍土壁は建設にかかる時間が短く、不都合が起こった場合、解かせば元に戻せるなどのメリットがあると説明した。しかし、規制委は凍土壁によって地下水がせき止められて原子炉建屋周辺の地下水位が下がれば、建屋内の汚染水が逆流して漏れ出すことを懸念。効果や影響を見ながら段階的に凍結していく方針を取ったため、当初15年度内としていた完成予定は大幅に遅れた。

さらに遮水効果についても、計画を認可する規制委の審査で有識者から懐疑的な意見が相次いだ。今回認可されるのも、「遮水効果を上げていないから(地下水位が下がって汚染水が逆流することはなく)安心して凍結を進められる」(更田(ふけた)豊志・規制委員長代理)という皮肉な理由からだ。

凍土壁は年間に十数億円の維持費がかかる上、維持管理に携わる作業員の被ばく量も多い。原子炉建屋の地下の損傷部をすべて修復するめどはたっていない。浅岡顕・名古屋大名誉教授(地盤力学)は「このままでは効果の薄い凍土壁をずっと維持しないといけなくなる。別の種類の壁を検討すべきだ」と指摘する。

処理水80万トン、行き場なく

汚染水問題では、浄化後の処理水の扱いも東電を悩ませている。

汚染水は62種類の放射性物質を除去できる「多核種除去設備」で処理するが、トリチウムだけは原理的に除去できない。トリチウムは宇宙線によって自然界でも生み出されているほか、世界各地の原子力施設からも海に放出されている。規制委は「安全上問題ない」として処理水を海洋放出すべきだとの立場だが、風評被害を懸念する地元漁業関係者を中心に反対が根強い。東電は第1原発敷地内にタンクを次々と建設して処理水をため続けており、その量は80万トンに迫る。

先月中旬、東電の川村隆会長が複数の報道機関のインタビューで、海洋放出について「(東電として)判断はもうしている」と発言したと共同通信が報道すると、漁業関係者らが一斉に反発。東電は「科学的に問題ないという規制委の見解と同じだという趣旨で述べたもので、(海洋放出するという)方針を述べたものではない」と釈明したが、怒りは収まっていない。

「福島県民が一丸となって風評対策をやっている最中。慎重な対応をしてもらいたい」「東電の会長は本当に福島のことを知っているのか」。先月末に福島県いわき市で経済産業省が開いた「廃炉・汚染水対策福島評議会」でも、参加した自治体や地元商工会の代表から厳しい声が相次いだ。

経産省は昨年11月、リスク評価や社会学の専門家らも交えた委員会を設置し、処理水の処分方法を検討している。これまでに5回の会合を開き、議論を進めているが、意見集約はまだできていない。政府関係者は「そう簡単に『放出させてほしい』とは言えない。結論を出すには時間がかかるだろう」と話した。



 文科相「もんじゅ月末に廃炉申請」 地元は拙速な動きけん制、規制委へ [福井新聞, 2017年8月10日]

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林芳正文科相(右)に要請する福井県の西川一誠知事(中央)と渕上隆信敦賀市長=9日、文科省

林芳正文部科学相は9日、日本原子力研究開発機構の高速増殖原型炉もんじゅ(福井県敦賀市)を巡る地域振興の中央要請に訪れた西川一誠知事ら福井県関係者に「原子力機構は今月末に原子力規制委員会への廃止措置の認可申請を行う準備を進めている」と理解を求めた。機構側は「次回の規制委安全監視チーム会合で、計画の概要を示す」としていたが、所管省庁のトップが一歩踏み込んだ形だ。

西川知事は面談後、記者団に「さまざまな準備がいる。十分議論をした上での話だ」と述べ、拙速な廃炉申請をけん制。渕上隆信敦賀市長も「地域振興策や廃炉工程を示してもらわないと、判断しようがない。日程に縛られる必要はない」とした。

もんじゅ廃止措置後の地域振興策を巡って西川知事はこれまで「短期的に示せるものは(8月末をめどに各省庁が提出する)来年度概算要求までに、中長期的なものはスケジュール感を示してほしい」と国に求めてきた。県は国の回答を見極めた上で、原子力機構と廃炉協定を締結。その後に廃炉認可申請という手続きを踏む必要があるとしていた。

面談で林文科相は「概算要求までの認可申請が、廃止措置の経緯や交付金の説明を(来年度概算要求で)円滑に進めることになる」と強調した。文科省の担当者は福井新聞の取材に「月末の申請予定は、あくまで文科省の案」としつつ、「もんじゅ廃炉が前提の地域振興なので、廃炉自体が進展していないと予算の裏付けを説明しづらい」と話した。

「地域振興策が見えないと廃炉の段階は進められない」という地元側と、文科省の「廃炉の段階を進めないと地域振興の予算は説明がつかない」とする主張はかみあっておらず、今後の展開は曲折も予想される。

もんじゅを巡っては、西川知事が6月に廃炉を容認。政府の基本方針と原子力機構の基本的な計画が固まっている。懸案の燃料取り出しは5年半かかる見込みで、7月の規制委監視チーム会合で工程の詳細が示された。規制委は、早期の廃炉認可申請を求めている。



 米電力会社 原発建設を断念…東芝傘下・WHに発注の2基 [毎日新聞, 2017年8月1日]

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 ウェスチングハウス(WH)が建設中のVCサマー原発=東芝提供

【ワシントン清水憲司】米スキャナ電力は31日、経営破綻した東芝傘下の米原子炉メーカー、ウェスチングハウス(WH)に発注した原発2基の建設を断念すると発表した。建設費の増大で採算が合わないと判断した。建設費は既に地域の電気料金に上乗せされており、地元住民や州政府が東芝などに損害賠償を求める可能性もある。

建設を断念したのは、米南部サウスカロライナ州のVCサマー原発2、3号機。WHが今年3月、米連邦破産法11条(日本の民事再生法に相当)の適用を申請して経営破綻し、原発建設からの撤退を決めたため、スキャナと共同発注者の州公営電力会社が建設を続けるかどうか検討していた。

2号機は2019年8月、3号機は20年8月の完成を予定し、建設費は139億ドル(約1.5兆円)を見込んでいたが、工事の遅れで両基の完成は24年ごろ、建設費も250億ドル規模に膨らむ見通しになった。スキャナのケビン・マーシュ最高経営責任者(CEO)は声明で「計画開始以来、我々では制御できない多くの要素が加わった。なかでもWHの破綻が最も大きかった」と語り、WHが追加コストの負担を約束していた固定価格契約が、WH破綻で実施できなくなったことが、断念の引き金との考えを示した。

同州法では、原発が完成してもしなくても、建設費を電気料金に転嫁でき、既に計18%の値上げが行われている。東芝が28日、スキャナなどにWHの親会社として支払いを約束した債務保証21億6800万ドル(2432億円)は料金の抑制に使われる。

同じくWHにボーグル原発3、4号機を発注していたサザン電力も8月中に建設を続けるかどうか検討を終える方針だ。

VCサマー原発の建設断念に伴い作業員など約5000人の雇用が失われる見通し。米政府は雇用重視などの観点からWH再建の動向を注視しており、トランプ政権が日本政府などに何らかの注文をつけてくる可能性もある。



 九電、玄海1号機廃炉13日着手 [共同通信, 2017年7月12日]

立地自治体了解で

九州電力は12日、玄海原発1号機の廃炉に関し、13日から解体に向けた準備作業を始めると明らかにした。廃炉までの工程を示した廃止措置計画を立地自治体の佐賀県と玄海町が了解したことを受けたもの。2043年度までの長期計画で、約365億円の費用を見込む。当面は3、4号機の再稼働に向けた作業と並行して進める。

12日は副島副知事と玄海町長がそれぞれ九電幹部に安全協定に基づく「事前了解」を伝達。副島氏は国内の商業用原発で廃炉を完了した例はないことから、安全確保や情報共有をより徹底するよう要請。九電の山元取締役は「しっかり受け止め、安全を最優先に取り組む」と応じた



 「東電に廃炉で主体性見えず危機感がある」規制委の田中俊一委員長が指摘 新経営陣に [産経ニュース, 2017年7月10日]

原子力規制委員会は10日の臨時会議で、東京電力の川村隆会長や小早川智明社長ら新経営陣から、再稼働を目指す柏崎刈羽原発6、7号機(新潟県)での安全対策の取り組みや、福島第1原発事故の今後の対応について説明を聴いた。規制委の田中俊一委員長は、第1原発の廃炉に関して「東電には主体性が見えず危機感がある」と指摘。また「事故を起こした東電は普通の事業者ではない」とも述べた。

柏崎刈羽6、7号機の審査は終盤で、田中氏は合格の判断には、東電について「社内で安全文化が育っているかの確認が必要だ」として経営陣から聴取する方針を示していた。田中氏は今後、2基を現地視察する意向も表明している。

東電は2基の再稼働を経営再建の柱とし、平成25年9月に審査を申請。重大事故時の対応拠点となる免震重要棟の耐震性不足を認識しながら約3年間報告していなかったことが審査会合で発覚した。東電は今年6月、安全対策を大幅に変更した申請書を再提出した。



 福島第1廃炉、気中工法で 政府・東電、近く決定 [共同通信 47NEWS, 2017年7月5日]

東京電力福島第1原発の廃炉作業で最難関となる1~3号機からの溶融核燃料(デブリ)の取り出しについて、廃炉の技術支援を担う原子力損害賠償・廃炉等支援機構が、3基とも原子炉格納容器を水で満たさない「気中工法」を軸に、最初は格納容器底部の横側から重点的に始める方針を検討していることが4日、分かった。デブリ取り出しの具体的手順が明らかになるのは初めて。

格納容器全体を水で満たす「冠水工法」は、現時点では採用しない。

方針は同機構が近く策定する2017年版の廃炉戦略プランに提言として盛り込む。これを基に政府と東電は号機ごとの取り出し方針を今夏にも決定する。



 震災と原発事故…再生する浜の漁師 映画に [河北新報, 2017年06月25日]

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 映画「新地町の漁師たち」で小野さんが漁船に乗って登場する一場面

東日本大震災と東京電力福島第1原発事故に直面した福島県新地町の漁師を追ったドキュメンタリー映画「新地町の漁師たち」(89分)が7月1~7日、福島市のフォーラム福島で上映される。東北の劇場では初の公開となる。

東京出身の山田徹監督(33)が2011年6月から約3年半、津波被害を受けるなどした新地町に通って撮影した。

漁は原発事故で操業自粛に。撮影開始から2年間、漁師は週2~3回のがれき撤去と魚の放射性物質濃度調査しか行えず、浜に復興の気配はなかった。

13年3月、コウナゴの試験操業が始まると、漁師の表情が生き生きとする。一方、第1原発の汚染水対策「地下水バイパス計画」を巡る東電との交渉では怒りが膨らんだ。

山田監督は「漁師の仕事に対する思いを伝えようと、カメラを回した。さまざまな迷いを抱える若い人に見てほしい」と語る。

上映初日は山田監督や漁師の小野春雄さん、福島市の詩人和合亮一さんが舞台あいさつする。福島市のコラッセふくしまでは新地町の女性が「浜の母ちゃん食堂」を設け、ホッキ飯やシラウオの吸い物などの定食を限定販売する。

1~4日は午前11時40分、5~7日は午後7時から。前売りの特別鑑賞券1100円、当日一般1700円。連絡先はフォーラム福島024(533)1717。東京のポレポレ東中野でも同期間上映される。



 東芝は原発事業から撤退すべき 中堅・若手社員の思い [東京新聞、2017年06月22日]

東芝は原発事業の失敗のツケを払うため、半導体事業の売却交渉を本格化させる。同時に、会社本体の再建に必要な主力事業を失うことにもなる。中堅・若手社員は迷走が続きそうな会社の将来をどうみているのか。 (伊藤弘喜)

「福島の事故が起きたのだから、原発は造らない方がいい。廃炉を除き事業から撤退すべきだ」。原発設備の溶接を手掛ける四十代男性は強調する。事故前は定期点検で東京電力福島第一原発を訪れ、事故後も汚染水タンクの据え付け工事に半年ほど取り組んだ。今では「東芝で原発を造っていると周りに言えない」。

「この半年で『原発に将来性はないから』と辞める若い人が増えた」が、自分は会社を辞めない。「私より上の世代は転職先がない。二人の子どもはまだ幼く、会社にしがみつくしかない」のが理由だ。「一生かけて廃炉に関わる」という使命もある。

IT部門の三十代男性も「損失の影響で新規事業が中断し、転職を一時考えた」と原発事業に恨み節だ。それでも会社に残るのは「仲間たちと挑む人工知能(AI)の新規事業がある」からだ。

入社動機となった「技術の会社」という印象は今でも変わらない。だが、経営危機のため、新しい主力事業の開発資金は乏しい。「一本の柱で支えるのではなく、十億円の事業を百個つくるような挑戦あふれる会社にしたい」と願う。

「職場の雰囲気は前向き」と明かすのは、売却に向け優先交渉相手が決まった半導体子会社「東芝メモリ」で働く四十代の男性技術者だ。半導体のフラッシュメモリーはスマートフォンなどのデータ処理を担い、未来は明るい。

「十分な投資をしてくれればまだまだ成長できるので、不安はない。どこに買われてもいい。もう東芝に未練はない」

◆半導体売却 日米韓連合優先

経営再建中の東芝は二十一日、半導体子会社「東芝メモリ」の売却で政府系ファンド産業革新機構や米ファンドなどの連合と優先的な交渉に入ると発表した。韓国半導体大手SKハイニックスも実質的に加わる「日米韓連合」は買収金額約二兆円を提示。株主総会を開く二十八日までに合意し、来年三月までの売却完了を目指す。 

連合は革新機構、日本政策投資銀行、米ファンドのベインキャピタルからなる。SKハイニックスと三菱東京UFJ銀行は融資という形で参画する。連合の提案によると、東芝メモリ株の議決権の66・6%を日本勢が握る。

東芝は日米韓連合案が「技術流出の懸念、雇用の確保などの観点から最も優位性が高いと評価した」と説明。米原発事業による巨額損失で資産より借金が多い債務超過に陥ったため売却を急ぐが、三重県四日市市の半導体工場を共同運営する米ウエスタン・デジタルが売却に反対している。
(東京新聞)



 除染−その陰に−】「不正は氷山の一角」 3兆2500億円の巨額事業 [福島民友新聞社みんゆうNet、2017年06月21日]

東京電力福島第1原発事故に関わる除染事業で、準大手ゼネコンの安藤ハザマ(東京)が作業員の宿泊費の領収書を改ざんするなどした問題は、東京地検特捜部が詐欺容疑で同社本社、東北支店などを家宅捜索する刑事事件に発展した。3兆2500億円もの巨費が投じられる除染事業。本県復興のために用意された国費に群がり、利益を不当に得ようとする姿が垣間見える。

「今回の疑惑は、氷山の一角にすぎない。(安藤ハザマの疑惑で問題となっている)宿泊費も含め、行政側のチェック体制が甘いと感じていた」。浜通りで除染事業に関わっていた建設会社の幹部は、この問題の根深さを指摘する。

県内の放射線量を低減する除染は前例がなく、事業費面でみても規模が大きい。参入する会社は、元請けから1次下請け、2次、3次、4次などと広がり、重層的な構造が不透明さに拍車を掛けているとの声もある。

除染事業を巡り、ある行政関係者が「不正の温床になっている」と指摘するのが、国が2012(平成24)年6月に出した作業員の宿泊費を巡る特例通達だ。

通常の公共事業であれば、事前に計上された予算内で事業を進めるが、除染は違った。事業を一刻も早く進めるためスピードが求められ、全国から人手を集める必要性から、受注業者がもともと予定していた予算を超えた宿泊費や送迎費を用意しなければならず、事業者の負担となった。

状況を打破するため、国土交通省は宿泊費や送迎費などを、実際にかかった費用に応じて事業終了後に実費精算できるようにする特例の通達を出した。費用が膨らんでも対応できるため、この特例が今回の事件の背景にあるとみられる。

福島市で5月に発覚した竹林除染の偽装問題では、単価が通常の山林より高い竹林を除染したように見せかけた資料を市に提出、請求額を水増ししたとされる。事業報告で福島市に提出された資料写真が偽りのものだったことが判明、大量の資料に目を通す必要があった福島市のチェック体制が十分機能していなかったことが浮き彫りとなった。

広い県土の再生を目指す除染事業は国発注のほか、市町村発注の事業に分かれる。浜通りの建設会社の幹部は語った。「前例のない事業で、監視は甘い。これから、ほかにも明らかになるのではないか」



 文在寅大統領が脱原発宣言、新規計画「全面白紙化」 福島原発事故にも言及「安全でも、安くも、環境に優しくもない」 [産経ニュース、2017年6月19日]

【ソウル=名村隆寛】韓国の文(ムン)在寅(ジェイン)大統領は19日、南東部、釜山(プサン)郊外で前日深夜に運転を終了した古里(コリ)原発1号機を訪れ演説し、原発政策を全面的に見直して原発中心の発電政策を破棄し、「脱原発に進む」と宣言した。2011年の東京電力福島第1原発事故にも言及し「原発は安全でも、安くも、環境に優しくもない」と強調した。

文氏は「新規の原発建設計画を全面的に白紙化し、寿命を超えた原子炉も運転しない」と表明。また、昨年9月に南東部の慶州(キョンジュ)で起きた地震で建物に被害があったことに触れ、「韓国はもはや地震安全地帯ではない。地震は原発の安全性に致命的だ」と強調した。

その脈絡で文氏は「福島原発事故で2016年3月現在、1368人が死亡し、被害の復旧に総額220兆ウォン(約22兆円)という天文学的な予算がかかるという。事故後、放射能の影響が原因の死者やがん患者の数は把握も不可能な状況だ」と指摘。福島原発の事故を“あしき前例”として挙げた。

文氏は再生可能エネルギーや液化天然ガス(LNG)、太陽光、海上風力などによる発電を積極的に推進する方針を示した。



 原子力機構、規制委に法令報告 大洗の被曝事故 [日本経済新聞、2017年6月19日]

日本原子力研究開発機構は19日、大洗研究開発センター(茨城県大洗町)で起きた被曝(ひばく)事故を受けて原子力規制委員会に原因調査の状況など法令報告をした。規制委への書類を提出後に記者会見した児玉敏雄理事長は地域住民などに陳謝する言葉を述べたうえで「(今回の事故は)危険への感度、危険予知に問題があったからと感じている。組織や職員の意識の問題に改めて手をつけていかないといけない」と述べた。

法令報告は原子炉等規制法に基づく措置。19日までに対応することが原子力機構に求められていた。



 5人の尿からプルトニウム 被ばく事故作業員再入院 [日本経済新聞、2017年6月19日]

日本原子力研究開発機構「大洗研究開発センター」の作業員被ばく事故で、量子科学技術研究開発機構は19日、作業員5人の尿からプルトニウムを検出したと発表した。体内に取り込んだ放射性物質が排出されたとみられる。検出はごく微量だったが、内部被ばくは確定的となった。

また量子研は5人全員が、運営する医療施設に再入院したと発表。5人の体調は悪化しておらず、容体も急変していないが、継続的な治療が必要と判断した。

量子研は、放射性物質の体外排出を促す薬剤を投与した効果として、尿からプルトニウムが検出されたとみている。

事故は6日午前に発生。点検作業をしていた50代の機構職員ら5人が飛散した放射性物質で被ばくした。5人は7日に入院し、13日に全員が退院していた。〔共同〕



 茨城被ばく 「危険予知に問題」原子力機構理事長が陳謝 [毎日新聞、2017年6月19日]

日本原子力研究開発機構「大洗研究開発センター」(茨城県大洗町)の作業員被ばく事故で、機構の児玉敏雄理事長は19日、東京都内で記者会見し「機構全体として危険予知に問題があった」と述べ、改めて陳謝した。機構は法令に基づき同日、事故原因や再発防止策をまとめた報告書を原子力規制委員会に提出した。

児玉氏は記者会見で、辞任する考えがあるかを問われ「現在はない」と話した。事故の責任については
「原因によってはしかるべき責任を取る」とも述べた。

事故は6日午前に発生。点検作業をしていた50代の機構職員ら5人が飛散した放射性物質で被ばくした。(共同)



 破裂ビニール袋、はみ出し茶色に変色…被曝事故 [読売新聞、2017年6月16日]

20170616-OYT1I50013-L.jpg
 事故発生後の作業台の写真。黄色いステンレス容器の中のビニール袋が破裂して、プルトニウムなどが飛散した。6日に作業員が撮影し、15日に公開された(日本原子力研究開発機構提供)

茨城県大洗(おおあらい)町の日本原子力研究開発機構で起きた被曝(ひばく)事故で、原子力機構は15日、事故発生後に作業員が撮影した現場の写真を公開した。

1010と書かれた黄色いステンレス容器の中から、破裂したビニール袋の一部がはみ出しており、本来は白っぽいはずの袋が茶色く汚れているように見える。作業台のガラス板には作業員たちの姿が反射しており、半面マスクを装着している様子がわかる。原子力機構は今後、写真の解析を進め、事故原因の究明を急ぐ。
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 9 till 17 Aug 2017



 Four areas in Cebu under close watch vs bird flu [Inquirer.net, 17 Aug, 2017]

By: Morexette B. Erram

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WATER BIRDS AT SRP. Hundreds of migratory birds are seen flying at the river beside the service road of the South Road Properties in Cebu City in this photo taken on Feb. 1, 2017.
CDN FILE PHOTO

The avian influenza, affecting more than 18,000 fowls in Pampanga, may not have reached Cebu; but the provincial government’s veterinary office (PVO) is not taking any chances to ensure the outbreak will not happen here.

The PVO is now closely monitoring specific areas in the towns of Argao and those on Bantayan Island and Talisay City after they were identified as “high-risk” areas where the bird flu virus could most likely propagate, according to PVO officer Louie Maestrado.

Maestrado said their office would also conduct an information and awareness drive to the people not only as means to equip them with knowledge about avian influenza but also to educate them on other equally fatal diseases which can originate from fowls.

“Let’s not hastily conclude a different bird disease as bird flu. It is better if we are informed with the right kind of information. But this does not mean we should be complacent –just report to authorities of symptoms and unusual deaths or sicknesses (of fowls),” he added.

Maestrado stressed that Cebu remains negative of any poultry-related diseases, but he cited the production stage of poultry products as an area of concern.

“We’re also taking a closer look at how owners of poultry farms manage their production. It is possible that the virus may emerge during production process such as unhygienic equipment and placing sick fowls together with the healthy ones,” said Maestrado.

Poultry farms in Cebu are classified by the PVO as areas with medium-risk of bird flu.

Swampy areas

The PVO suspected that the strain of bird flu virus which caused the outbreak in Pampanga in Central Luzon could not be found in the Philippines, and was only brought into the country through migratory birds.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has earlier urged the public to avoid any contact with migratory birds following the avian flu outbreak in Pampanga.

DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim was quoted by the GMA News Online as saying that “close contact” with wild birds would risk transmission of the avian influenza virus.

“The annual bird migration season in the Philippines is expected to start around September and return to their breeding grounds by March in the following year,” Lim said.

The migratory birds are reported to stop briefly along wetlands such as swamps, marshes, and intertidal and coastal areas, rivers, ponds, lakes, and forests throughout the country to rest and refuel for their journey.

Lim also said that killing or poaching migratory birds could worsen the outbreak.

“We discourage the killing or poaching of the birds because this could just worsen the situation,” she said.

According to the DENR, the Philippines has 117 areas frequented by migratory birds, including the Candaba Swamp in Pampanga, which the DENR has described as an “important staging and wintering area for ducks and other threatened waterbirds.”

In Cebu, Maestrado said migratory birds frequent the swamps, which are commonly found in the places they classified as high risk for bird flu.

He pointed out the ponds and swamps in the South Road Properties (SRP) in Talisay City, the numerous rice fields and fish ponds in Argao town, and the coastal swamps on Bantayan Island as spots in which the risk of bird flu virus is high. Bantayan Island, considered the egg capital of Cebu, is also known for its flourishing poultry industry.

Maestrado also said they are taking note of the flying behavior of migratory birds found in these locations as part of their strategic surveillance to prevent an avian flu outbreak from happening in Cebu.



 Bird flu outbreak spreads [IT-Online, 16 Aug, 2017]

The bird flu (HPAi H5N8) outbreak has spread to Mpumalanga and the Western Cape and led to calls for widespread vaccination.

On 7 August 2017 a case of HPAI H5N8 was detected in a commercial layer farm in Mpumalanga Province in the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality. Control measures were applied and all birds culled.

Just two days later, the first cases of HPAI H5N8 in ostriches were confirmed in two commercial ostrich farms in the Western Cape Province in the Hessequa Local Municipality.

Quarantine has been instituted and the application of disease control measures have commenced.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI), type H5N8, in two ostrich farms in the Heidelberg area.

Avian influenza is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 35 of 1984, and vets from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture detected HPAI during routine testing.

There are around 1 000 ostriches on both farms.

To ensure the accuracy of the first test, and because the ostriches are not showing any clinical signs of the illness, vets continued their testing campaign. There have been no reported bird deaths in the area.

At this stage, it appears that the incidence has been confined to the two properties. Farms within 3km of the affected farms will be placed under quarantine and testing in the surrounding areas will continue.

No decision to cull has been taken and discussions are ongoing. It is suspected that wild birds are the source of the infection.

These recently detected outbreaks bring the total number of outbreaks to 16; eight of which were in commercial chickens, three outbreaks in wild birds, two outbreaks in commercial ostrich, two outbreaks in backyard poultry and one outbreak in birds that were kept as a hobby.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has received requests to vaccinate and these requests are under consideration. Currently, vaccination against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is prohibited for the long-term benefit of the poultry industry at large.

The department has applied for additional funding to deal with the disease control measures, including compensation where applicable.



 Bulacan reactivates avian flu task force [Manila Bulletin, 15 Aug, 2017]

By Freddie Velez

bulacanavian.jpg
(PNA / MANILA BULLETIN)

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan — To ensure that Bulacan will be safe and a bird-flu free province, Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado last Monday reactivated the Provincial Avian Influenza Task Force to mitigate the effects of the detection of the Bird Flu virus in nearby town of San Luis, Pampanga.

Alvarado said that he instructed the Provincial Veterinary Office headed by Dr. Voltaire Basinang as well as Senior Supt. Romeo M. Caramat Jr., Bulacan police director, to establish 24-hour checkpoints to make sure that fowls like chicken, ducks, pigeons and quails will not enter Bulacan so that the bio-security of the province’s poultry industry is not compromised.

He said, since Saturday, checkpoints had been established in the towns of San Miguel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Baliwag, Pulilan and Calumpit and some exits of the North Luzon Expressway.

The governor also presided at an emergency meeting attended by stakeholders of the local poultry industry in Bulacan . Dr. Basinang instructed them to monitor and immediately report any signs of fowl sickness.

“The Task Force is ready to deploy teams to monitor poultry farms. We are requesting our stakeholders to religiously clean their farms and follow guidelines issued by the Provincial Veterinary Office, “ Alvarado said.

Alvarado said that rigid inspection of farms is needed since Bulacan has also become an “airport” of migratory birds which had been common visitors in nearby Candaba swamp in Pampanga.

He added that “we are regulating the industry in support of the actions of the national government and we will be strictly monitoring the movements of all poultry products and check their point of origin because at the same time we do not want the industry to suffer,” Alvarado said.

“Safe pa rin kainin ang mga manok, itik, itlog at maging balot at penoy na galing Bulacan.

Siguraduhin lang malinis ang pagkakaluto nito, dapat well cooked,” Alvarado explained.
He also said that 60 percent of the meat, poultry and vegetable supply of the Metro Manila comes from Bulacan.

Alvarado also announced that the Task Force will request Agriculture Secretary to consider the plight of poultry raisers and egg producers whose animals are not infected with the avian flu.

He said that the Philippine Duck Raisers and Egg Managers represented by Ike Illescas reported that since Friday at least 500,000 duck eggs had not been sold, thus wrecking havoc on duck raisers and egg producers even if their poultry products are not infected by the avian influenza disease. Illescas said that if this trend will continue, it would ruin the local poultry and egg industry.

Tags: Avian Flu, bird flu, Bulacan, Bulacan reactivates avian flu task force, Manila Bulletin, Provincial Avian Influenza Task Force, task force, Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado



 DAFF confirms 16 avian influenza cases across SA [Farmer's Weekly, 15 Aug, 2017]

By Lloyd Phillips

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August has reportedly seen more cases of the H5N8 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in South Africa.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) confirmed on Monday that, since late June 2017, 16 cases of this disease had now been identified across the country from Mpumalanga to the Western Cape.

DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, said that the 16 HPAI cases included eight cases in commercial poultry flocks, three in wild bird populations, two in commercial ostrich enterprises, two in backyard poultry flocks, and one in a hobby aviary.

HPAI was discovered in two ostrich businesses on 9 August on farms in the Western Cape’s Hessequa Local Municipality, and were the first cases reported in ostriches this year. Molapo said that in all the HPAI cases, quarantine and control measures had been implemented.

“The department has received requests to vaccinate [poultry against HPAI] and these requests are under consideration. As can be appreciated, all possible pros and cons have to be carefully assessed in order for a decision to be reached. At the moment, vaccination against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is prohibited for the long-term benefit of the poultry industry at large,” said Molapo.

DAFF had reportedly applied for additional funding to deal with controlling the HPAI discoveries in SA, and for compensating affected poultry owners where applicable.

Molapo reminded that auction houses, buyers and sellers of poultry were still required to register with the Poultry Disease Management Agency to ensure traceability of poultry being moved around the country.

“The continued cooperation of the public and the poultry industry in timeous reporting of sick and dying birds to government veterinary services is vital for the speedy response and necessary investigations in order to effectively manage the disease threat,” she said.

DAFF said that it would pay for the testing of poultry and other birds that were suspected of HPAI infection, provided that these specimens were submitted to state veterinary officials.

These officials would, in turn, submit the specimens to the Agricultural Research Council’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute for testing.

According to a HPAI factsheet published by DAFF, in its mild form, physical symptoms of the disease included ruffled feathers, reduced egg production, and mild effects on the respiratory system.

DAFF said that the severe form of HPAI infection resulted in physical symptoms such as respiratory problems, the invasion of multiple organs and tissues to cause massive internal haemorrhaging, lethargy and extreme depression, a sudden drop in egg production, eggs that were soft-shelled or shell-less, swollen and congested wattles and combs, swelling of the skin under the eyes, coughing, sneezing, diarrhoea, and haemorrhages on the hocks.

“A few deaths may occur over several days, followed by rapid spread and a mortality rate that can then approach 100% within 48 hours,” the DAFF factsheet said.



 Bird flu in SA - 16 outbreaks since June [SowetanLIVE 15 Aug, 2017]

By Bekezela Phakathi

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The Western Cape has become the latest province to be hit by a highly contagious strain of bird flu.

Sixteen outbreaks have occurred in SA since June this year‚ in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture confirmed Tuesday the presence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)‚ type H5N8‚ in two ostrich farms in the Heidelberg area.

“At this stage‚ it appears that the incidence has been confined to the two properties. Farms within 3km of the affected farms will be placed under quarantine and testing in the surrounding areas will continue‚” the department said in a statement.

Avian influenza is a viral respiratory disease of birds believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds. In Southern Africa‚ the H5N8 strain of the disease also affected the poultry industry in Zimbabwe‚ where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.

There is currently no preventive vaccine used or treatment for HPAI H5N8. Current practice in most regions of the world requires the culling of infected birds.

This strain of the virus has so far shown no sign of being infectious to people. Ostrich and chicken meat on sale in retail outlets is safe for human consumption‚ the department said.
Bomikazi Molapo‚ the spokeswoman for Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana‚ said these recently detected outbreaks bring the total number of outbreaks to 16; eight of which were in commercial chickens‚ three outbreaks in wild birds‚ two outbreaks in commercial ostrich‚ two outbreaks in backyard poultry and one outbreak in birds that were kept as a hobby.

“The department has received requests to vaccinate and these requests are under consideration. As can be appreciated‚ all possible pros and cons have to be carefully assessed in order for a decision to be reached. At the moment‚ vaccination against highly pathogenic avian Influenza is prohibited for the long term benefit of the poultry industry at large‚” said Molapo.

Poultry vaccines can prevent healthy chickens from contracting deadly strains of bird flu.

According to the department‚ vaccination of birds would create an endemic situation‚ affect surveillance efforts and affect SA’s export certification because all its trade partners wanted only products from a country that was free of avian influenza and where vaccination was not practised.

The department had applied for additional funding to deal with the disease control measures‚ including compensation for affected farms where applicable‚ said Molapo.



 Bird flu spreads in South Africa’s Western Cape province [TODAY.NG 15 Aug, 2017]

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Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa’s Western Cape has detected type H5N8 bird flu on two ostrich farms, the province’s agriculture department said on Tuesday.

The virus is highly pathogenic in birds but considered unlikely to infect humans.

“Both farms were placed under quarantine immediately, and no birds are allowed to enter or leave the affected properties. There are around 1000 ostriches on both farms,” the department said in a statement.

No bird deaths have been reported in the area and it is suspected that wild birds are the source of the infection, the department added.

The World Health Organization says the likelihood of human infection with H5N8 appears to be low, but that it cannot be excluded.



 S. Africa confirms bird flu in Western Cape province [Anadolu Agency, 15 Aug, 2017]

By Hassan Isilow

WHO says H5N8 bird flu unlikely to affect humans

South African authorities Tuesday confirmed the outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu at two ostrich farms in the Western Cape province.

“Quarantine has been instituted and the application of disease control measures have commenced,” the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus is highly dangerous in birds but considered unlikely to affect humans.

In June, South African authorities had confirmed a second case of the H5N8 bird flu strain at a layer farm in Standerton in the eastern Mpumalanga province.

Thousands of infected birds were culled at the affected farms to avoid spread of the disease.

The department of agriculture said Tuesday the recently detected cases brought the total number of outbreaks in the country to 16.

They said they have applied for additional funding to deal with the disease control measures, including compensation to farmers.

An announcement of the outbreak by South Africa in June prompted some neighboring countries to temporarily suspend imports of poultry from the country.



 South Africa: Western Cape Agriculture Confirms Presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Two Ostrich Farms in Heidelberg Area [AllAfrica.net, 15 Aug, 2017]


The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI), type H5N8, in two ostrich farms in the Heidelberg area.

Avian influenza is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 35 of 1984.

Vets from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture detected HPAI during routine testing.

Last week, throat swabs tested positive for HPAI. Both farms were placed under quarantine immediately, and no birds are allowed to enter or leave the affected properties. There are around 1000 ostriches on both farms.

To ensure the accuracy of the first test, and because the ostriches are not showing any clinical signs of the illness, vets continued their testing campaign. There have been no reported bird deaths in the area.

At this stage, it appears that the incidence has been confined to the two properties. Farms within 3km of the affected farms will be placed under quarantine and testing in the surrounding areas will continue.

No decision to cull has been taken and discussions are ongoing.

It is suspected that wild birds are the source of the infection.

Thirteen outbreaks have occurred in South Africa since June this year, in Mpumalanga and Gauteng. The outbreaks involved seven commercial chicken farms, two groups of backyard chickens, three sets of wild birds and one group of domestic geese.

Avian influenza is a viral respiratory disease of birds believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds. In Southern Africa, the H5N8 strain of the disease also affected the poultry industry in Zimbabwe, where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.

This strain of the virus has so far shown no sign of being infectious to people. Constant monitoring of exposed people in South Africa has supported this.

Ostrich and chicken meat on sale in retail outlets is safe for human consumption.

Avian Influenza is primarily spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds, or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials. The virus is present in the faeces of infected birds and in discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes. The virus can spread into domestic flocks kept outdoors through faecal contamination from wild birds, whereas infection among indoor flocks is spread via airborne discharges and faeces.

There is currently no preventive vaccine or treatment for HPAI H5N8. Current practice in most regions of the world requires the culling of infected birds.

General recommendations:

It is very important to report sick or dead birds - both wild birds and poultry - to local authorities (veterinary services, public health officials, community leaders etc.) Details of local state veterinarians can be found at:http://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services-0#s...

Farmers and poultry producers should step up their biosecurity measures in order to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces;
It is important to keep poultry and other animals away from wild birds and their body fluids, through screens, fencing or nets;

Commercial poultry operations and backyard poultry owners should avoid the introduction of the virus through contaminated clothes, footwear, vehicles or equipment used in waterfowl hunting.

Because of the HPAI H5N8 outbreaks, the buyers or sellers of more than five live chickens for any purpose other than direct slaughter at a registered abattoir will be subjected to the following conditions (quoting Media Briefing by Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Avian Influenza Outbreak In South Africa, 29 June 2017, Department Agriculture Forestry & Fisheries):

The sellers of live chickens, including commercial farmers, as well as the traders who buy and resell these chickens must register with the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA). The national Director Animal Health has authorised the PDMA to register and keep records of all parties selling and buying live chickens. The PDMA is an independent organisation and all information about the trade of live chickens will be kept strictly confidential.

Only registered sellers and buyers are allowed to trade and it is the responsibility of both the seller and the buyer to ensure that their counterpart is registered.

Farmers may only sell live chickens certified as healthy by a veterinarian or Animal Health Technician.

Traders may only sell healthy chickens and must keep records as prescribed.
Sellers and buyers registering with the PDMA would have to sign an undertaking to adhere to the required control measures.

Issued by: Western Cape Agriculture



 Bulacan reactivates Avian Influenza Task Force [Philippine Canadian Inquire, 14 Aug, 2017]

By Emil Gamos

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Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado (PNA Photo)

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan — Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Monday reactivated the provincial avian influenza task force to mitigate the effects of the bird flu virus detection in nearby San Luis town in Pampanga.

Alvarado, the task force chairman, said he instructed the Provincial Veterinary Office headed by Dr. Voltaire Basinang and the Bulacan Police Provincial Office headed by Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., to establish 24-hour checkpoints and ensure that transport of fowls like chickens, ducks, pigeons and quails will not enter Bulacan so that it cannot compromise the bio-security of their poultry industry which as of this time is safe and not affected by the avian flu case that hit San Luis,Pampanga.

Since Saturday, Alvarado said that checkpoints has been put in the towns of San Miguel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Baliwag, Pulilan, Calumpit and some exits of the North Luzon Expressway.

The governor also presided an emergency meeting attended by hundreds of stakeholders of the local poultry industry in Bulacan where Basinang instructed to monitor and immediately report any signs or detection of fowl sickness.

“The task force is ready to deploy teams to monitor poultry farms. We are requesting our stakeholders to religiously clean their farms and follow guidelines issued by the Provincial Veterinary Office, “ Alvarado said.

The governor said that rigid inspection of farms is needed since Bulacan has also become an “airport” of migratory birds that has become common visitors in nearby Candaba swamp in Pampanga.

“We are regulating the industry in support of the actions of the national government and we will be strictly monitoring the movements of the delivery and transport of all poultry products and check their point of origin because at the same time, we do not want the industry to suffer,” Alvarado said.

“It is safe to eat the chicken, duck, eggs, “balot” and penoy that come from Bulacan. Just make sure that those are properly cooked,” he said.

He added that 60 percent of the meat, poultry and vegetable supply of Metro Manila comes from Bulacan.

Alvarado also announced that the task force will request Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol to consider the plight of poultry raisers and egg producers whose animals are not infected with the avian flu.

He said that the Philippine Duck Raisers and Egg Managers represented by Ike Illescas reported that since Friday, at least 500,000 duck eggs have not been sold, thus, badly affecting the duck raisers and egg producers even if their poultry products are not infected by the avian influenza disease.

Illescas said that if this continues, it will ruin the local poultry and egg industry.

In a related development, Malolos City Mayor Christian D. Natividad said that the City Agriculture Office has also set up checkpoints to ensure that no movement of fowls will enter the capital city.

“We have been strict even to other meats and we are regularly monitoring meat products that are entering our markets,” Natividad said.

Natividad said they are also monitoring petshops selling birds like pigeons and love birds as well as game fowls. (PNA)



 BAI kills 16,700 birds in avian flu culling operations [GMA News, 14 Aug, 2017]


The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) on Monday said 16,700 poultry were killed culled during culling operations in San Luis, Pampanga.

The culling operations involved four poultry farms in Barangay San Carlos, said Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, BAI head of Animal Disease and Control Section, in a phone interview on dzBB’s “Saksi sa Dobol B.”

The bureau will also cull birds in poultry farms in Barangay Santa Rita.

The culling process will take three to four months before every affected poultry farm can be declared clean, followed by the lifting of the quarantine, Vytiaco said.

The process starts by taking the birds out of the coop and placing them into a sack. Carbon dioxide from a gas tank will be released to kill the birds. The dead birds will then be buried in a mortality pit.

Vytiaco said the affected poultry farms will be cleaned and disinfected to ensure that no virus will be left lingering in the farms.

"Kahit na napatay na ang host ng virus, kelangan masiguro na malinis na agad ang surrounding niyan kasi kasama sa mga infected materials ay 'yung ipot pati na rin ang respiratory secretion na makikita sa lupa, pati na rin sa dingding ng houses,” she said.

“Kelangan thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and in and out ng poultry houses, pati na rin 'yung surroundings niya, to be repeated five times per day within one to two weeks,” she added.

There will be a 21-day test period after the last day of disinfection.

Sentinel birds will be grown for 35 days and monitored closely to see whether the birds will be affected by the avian flu virus.

After 35 days of negative test results, with no signs of the flu, the sentinel birds will be taken and the farm will again be cleaned and disinfected.

The BAI director will then declare the poultry farm free of the virus.

Fatal to humans

Vytiaco noted the H5N1 and H5N6 subtypes of the avian influenza can be fatal to humans.

However, she said only the H5 subtype has been confirmed so far.

Samples from poultry which may be H5N6-positive will be sent to a laboratory in Australia this week.

The BAI is coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) in setting up vaccination centers near the affected areas.

Vytiaco said the BAI called on the provincial veterinarians to conduct tests in their respective provinces and check for the presence of the virus.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has pledged to pay farm owners P80 per culled animal.

The BAI said it will investigate how the avian flu virus was able to enter the Philippines, but it may take a while to finish the task.

Piñol announced the avian flu breakout on Friday, noting that it had killed off some 37,000 birds in a poultry farm in Barangay San Agustin. — Akari Nakano/VDS/KVD, GMA News



 Suspected avian flu outbreak in Western Cape [Creamer Media's Engineering News, 14 Aug, 2017]


BY: NATASHA ODENDAAL

Two ostrich farms in the Heidelberg area of the Western Cape have been placed under quarantine as authorities work to determine the possibility of an outbreak of the now widely-spread H5N8 avian influenza.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is leading the investigations to confirm if the highly pathogenic avian influenza has infected the birds on the farms, with strict quarantine measures in place.

Some 13 outbreaks have been reported since the avian flu first hit South African soil in June.

This involved seven commercial chicken farms, two groups of backyard chickens, three sets of wild birds and one group of domestic geese.

However, ostrich and chicken meat on sale in retail outlets remain safe for human consumption, the Western Cape government assured in a release issued on Monday.



 Bird flu outbreak: Culling of over 200,000 birds to be finished today [Philippine Star, 14 Aug, 2017]


By Louise Maureen Simeon

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Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol holds a manual for Avian Influenza Protection during a news conference on the confirmation of the first bird flu case in the country Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Piñol said the Philippines will cull at least 400,000 birds after confirming its first bird flu outbreak, but that no animal-to-human transmission has been reported. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture targets to finish culling more than 200,000 poultry heads today as part of the government’s precautionary measure following the first ever bird flu outbreak in the country.

The DA is now in the process of culling an estimated 200,000 poultry heads—chicken, ducks, quails, pigeons and fighting roosters—within the town of San Luis in Pampanga to avoid the spread of the virus.

Pampanga has been placed in a state of calamity since Friday.

"At most, we want to finish the depopulation not later than tomorrow [Monday]. We will be trying to exhaust all our efforts and resources to finish these until tomorrow. We have to understand that we are not only talking about captive birds, we have to cull those stray birds as well," Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said in a phone interview Sunday.

Last Friday, the DA confirmed the outbreak of avian influenza virus (bird flu), the first case for the country, in San Luis, Pampanga which killed close to 40,000 poultry heads and placed the province in a state of calamity.

Initial field report as to how many heads have been culled already is still under validation.

Cayanan said Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda is shouldering the daily labor cost for the culling process.

"She said we can hire as many as we need to fast track depopulation. She will also shoulder all identified logistics all throughout the depopulation period," he added.

Test specimens confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) subtype H5 in the town of San Agustin in San Luis, Pampanga, killing 37,000 birds covering six farms particularly poultry, quail and ducks.

According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, quarantine officers will disinfect all the six farms after all birds in the area have been culled.

"After 21 days, sentinel birds will be deployed in the affected farms to serve as the basis in determining whether the virus is still present in the area. If the sentinel birds will not show signs of the disease, the quarantine restrictions will be lifted after 90 days," Piñol said.

Controlling the spread

The department maintained that culling the rest of the poultry population in the area is necessary to control the spread of disease in the shortest possible time as the remaining 200,000 may also be infected with bird flu.

The Bureau of Animal Industry has already declared a quarantine zone within a one-kilometer radius of the farms where the outbreak was confirmed.

Another seven-kilometer radius has been declared as a controlled zone where no fowls, eggs or other products could be brought out.

Apart from confining the area, the department has ordered the ban on the shipment of fowls from Luzon to the other parts of the country.

"However, the transshipment through the Manila International Airport of chicks, hatching eggs and other fowls from other countries coming into Luzon or other parts of the country will be allowed with the advisory that stringent quarantine protocols must be observed," Piñol said.

This means that chicken brought in from the United States intended for shipment to the Visayas or Mindanao may not be taken out of the boxes and must be loaded directly into the connecting flights.

Low chance of virus transmission to humans

On the other hand, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau warned the public on approaching migratory birds in light of fears that the current bird flu outbreak is caused by the birds.

"We discourage the killing or poaching of the birds because this could just worsen the situation. Close contact with the birds will risk transmission," DENR-BMB Director Mundita Lim said.

"We may need to determine the actual strain and do some epidemiological assessments so we can make the proper disease management recommendations, along with the DA and the DOH, in accordance with the creation of an inter-agency committee on zoonosis," she added.

Zoonosis is a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals.

There has been no report yet of poultry to human contamination and the DOH assured that virus transmission from animals to humans is low.

BAI is now in the process of sending the samples to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Reference Laboratory for avian influenza for further testing.

The DENR explained that the annual bird migration season in the Philippines is expected to start around September (southward migration) and return to their breeding grounds by March in the following year (northward migration).

This means that birds stop briefly along wetlands—swamps, marshes, intertidal and coastal areas, rivers, ponds, lakes, as well as forests throughout the country, to rest and refuel for their onward journey.

The DENR will also issue a memorandum to all its regional directors to intensify surveillance at airports and seaports pertaining to the smuggling of wild birds.



 WC AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT PROBING POSSIBLE CASES OF BIRD FLU [Eyewitness News, 13 Aug, 2017]

By Monique Mortlock

There have been 13 reported outbreaks of the highly contagious virus in various parts of Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Free State since June.

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FILE: The Western Cape Agriculture Department has placed two ostrich farms under quarantine. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Agriculture Department is investigating two possible cases of bird flu in the Heidelberg area.

The department has placed two ostrich farms under quarantine.

There have been 13 reported outbreaks of the highly contagious virus in various parts of Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Free State since June.

The department’s Petro van Rhyn says, “Those farms have been placed under quarantine, which prohibits any movement of birds to and from the affected properties.

And people and vehicles from these areas will also have to adhere to strict, heightened measures.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)



 Culling of poultry animals begins in bird flu-hit Pampanga [InterAksyon, 13 Aug, 2017]

By Jenny Dongon

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News5 video grab file of a poultry farm.

MANILA – Authorities began at the weekend the culling of thousands of fowl in Barangay San Carlos in San Luis town in Pampanga a day after the Department of Agriculture announced a bird flu outbreak.

Workers wearing hazard suits entered the quarantine area in a poultry farm Saturday to begin the grim task of killing, and then burying the chickens.

According to veterinarian Arlene Vytiaco, national avian influenza focal person, the poultry animals must be quickly disposed off to prevent these from leaving the quarantine area.

A back hoe dug up the burial place for the fowl near the poultry houses.Each farm has a designated mortality pit.

“Our method of disposal is through burying. It’s not enough to just dig up holes. There’s a strict specification: it must be at least 6 feet deep,” said Vytiaco, partly in Filipino.

The birds for culling are put in sacks, which are then placed inside containers and gassed with carbon dioxide until they die.

Vytiaco said all items used in the operation must be disinfected. The feeds used in the affected poultry farm will be buried along with the fowl.

Once a poultry house is emptied, it then becomes the focus of massive disinfecting.
Only chemicals safe for people will be used in the operation, she added. “We must use safe disinfectants because we have to consider their set-up: the farms are usually near the homes of people.

The goal is to finish burying the affected fowl in three to five days, after which the workers involved in the culling process undergo 10 days of quarantine.

The national avian influenza task force will set up observation points in poultry farms within the 7-km radius to ensure the virus does not spread.

Authorities estimate that poultry growers will have to wait 3-4 months before they are allowed to resume operations.

Poultry growers, meanwhile, are asking the government for help as they grapple with the economic fallout. Linda Sumat, poultry owner, said: “Sana sa gobyerno…matulungan kami, malaking bagay na sa amin ‘yun kasi di biro sa amin ang nangyari. Nakakaiyak talaga [We hope the government helps us. That’s important, because what happened to us is no joke. It really makes me cry].”

She said authorities initially promised to compensate them at the rate of P80 per head, and they hope this could go higher.

For the moment, the poultry growers are relying on growing some crops as an alternative source of income.

Is it really bird flu? Ex-mayor doubts

Meanwhile, a former mayor of Candaba town nearby echoed an agriculture sector leader that the government should have held off from declaring the avian influenza and waited for the result of confirmatory tests from Australlia.

Candaba hosts the swamplands that attract migratory birds and draw tourists and bird watchers from around the world.

Ex-mayor Jerry Pelayo doubted that the virus that killed thousands in the farm in San Luis town is avian influenza, which he noted is not known to survive in hot places. “The migratory birds from, say, Siberia, Australia and China cannot reach the Philippines if they are ailing, said Pelayo, who was Candaba mayor for nine years, and developed the area as a hub for bird-watching.

He noted as well that the fowl in San Luis started falling ill in April. “The [migratory] birds come here in October, when it’s cold in their countries. They return home when the cold is gone.”

Meanwhile, he wondered aloud why authorities scuttled the interagency Task Force Iwas Bird Flu, which he said was a key factor in the Philippines’ remaining as the only bird-flue-free place in Asia for many years.

It also helped, he said, that an executive order issued by then President Gloria Arroyo had banned the importation of Peking duck, precisely to avoid bird flu infections, considering the high incidence in China.

The Peking duck in the Philippines is raised mostly in Victoria, Laguna, said Pelayo, though other officials had earlier said that rampant smuggling of Peking duck from China might explain the current outbreak.

Pelayo also held out as one possibility the virus source came from quail or chickens imported by local breeders.

As for his doubts that it may not even be bird flu in the first place that is causing the Pampanga birds to fall ill, Pelayo said in an interview with DZMM that perhaps another kind of virus is involved.

He echoed the position Friday by Rosendo So of the agriculture industry group that the DA should have awaited more confirmatory tests before making the announcement.



 Bird flu strikes Pampanga town [Inquirer.net, 12 Aug, 2017]


By: Tonette Orejas, Yolanda Sotelo

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Manny Piñol

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Hundreds of thousands of chickens in a town in Pampanga that had been stricken with the avian flu would be culled to prevent the spread of the disease, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said on Friday.

“This is a critical problem because this is the first time that avian flu occurred in our country.

Hopefully, we can control (the disease),” Piñol told reporters in Lingayen, Pangasinan, where he attended the Luzon mango stakeholders’ forum.

Piñol initially announced that up to 400,000 chickens would be slaughtered “but upon actual inspection 200,000 birds will be culled,” including free range and strays, he said.

Tests done by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) confirmed the H5 strain of the avian flu virus at the San Luis, Pampanga, farm after its owner belatedly reported that his chickens, quails and ducks had died suddenly, Piñol said.

Celia Carlos, director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, said it was the first avian flu outbreak in the country.

Negative

The chickens from San Luis, however, have tested negative for the H5N1 strain, which could be transmitted and fatal to humans, said Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, head of BAI’s Animal Disease Control Section.

BAI personnel visited the affected farm on Aug. 4 after receiving reports about the deaths of the birds, Vytiaco said.

A series of tests conducted on samples taken from the farm in the succeeding days by the BAI, UPLB, the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed the infection on Thursday, she said.

The DA has marked at least 132,500 birds in San Luis for extermination, according to San Luis Mayor Venancio Macapagal.

Culling

Culling will take place in five egg-producing chicken farms and four quail farms in Barangay San Carlos as well as four duck farms in neighboring Barangay Sta. Rita, Vytiaco said.

The infected birds will be placed in container vans and gassed with carbon dioxide and their carcasses would be buried in the farms. The process will take three days.

“We did not divulge the problem right away because we wanted to make sure that no birds would be taken out of San Luis [by poultry farmers or game fowl owners],” Piñol said.

He said the DA had to first set up quarantine stations at all exit points in San Luis.

Macapagal said checkpoints have also been set up in Barangay San Carlos to prevent the sale or the unauthorized disposal of the infected chickens and poultry byproducts such as eggs and manure.

The DA also stopped the movement of chickens from Luzon to other areas and banned the entry of exotic birds from other countries to the Philippines.

Piñol said the government was checking if the virus was brought in by migratory birds that visited the Candaba Swamp near San Luis, or was carried by contaminated Peking ducks smuggled into the country.

The flu was first detected at a poultry farm in Barangay San Carlos, where 15,000 birds had died in April.

Criminal prosecution

“The farm owner did not immediately report the disease to authorities so it spread to other farms,” Piñol said. “It tried self-medication and did not seek the DA’s help. That’s why it is important to report.”

He said authorities were considering the criminal prosecution of farm owners who do not report diseases that affect their farms.

Piñol directed BAI Director Enrico Garzon Jr. to investigate whether local veterinarians also kept the infection under wraps. None of the six affected farms had veterinary health certificates and shipping permits required in the transport of animals across provinces and regions.

Piñol said farmers would be initially compensated for the culled birds at P80 per head.

State of calamity

He urged governors and mayors to enforce quarantine measures. The maximum quarantine period is 90 days.

On Friday, Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda said a state of calamity was declared in the province to help local governments institute preventive measures.

Rosendo So, chair of the industry group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), said the government should have first conducted a confirmatory test before announcing an outbreak.

“It happened in 2004, when it tested positive initially then confirmatory tests in Australia revealed it was negative. That should be the protocol,” he said, lamenting that damage had already been done to the local poultry industry by then. —WITH A REPORT FROM KARL OCAMPO



 IN THE KNOW: Avian influenza [Inquirer.net, 12 Aug, 2017]

The avian influenza, or bird flu, is an infectious disease caused by type A strains of the influenza virus.

The various strains of avian flu may cause a mild form of the disease in birds, characterized by disheveled feathers, reduced egg production and mild effects on their respiratory system.

They may also cause a rare deadly form, which does not only affect respiratory tracts but also attacks multiple organs and tissues in birds.

Avian flu is transmitted from one area to another by the movement of birds, people with contaminated clothing, contaminated farm equipment and chicken feed, among others.

The H5N1 strain has posed threats to human health since its first reported human infection in 1997 during an outbreak in Hong Kong.

This strain is transmitted to humans through contact with infected birds. H5N1 is also spread through bird feces, which, when dried and pulverized, may be inhaled by humans.

Since its reemergence in 2003, this avian virus has spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, and has become entrenched in poultry populations in some countries.

There were 859 reported cases of human H5N1 virus infection from 16 countries from 2003 to 2017, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO said 453 cases were fatal.

The first recorded bird flu case in the Philippines was in July 2005 in a small farm in Calumpit, Bulacan. It was found to be a “low-pathogen” strain and not harmful to humans.

The country has since implemented precautionary measures, such as strict bans on poultry imports from affected countries and surveillance of migratory birds.

The death of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) after his return from China in 2015 was considered a possible case of avian flu due to his travel history, exposure to live poultry, the symptoms he showed and the quick progress of his condition.

After considering the danger of shedding the virus into the environment if an autopsy was performed, the Department of Health instead conducted a fully guided biopsy on the remains of the victim. The results were “inconclusive,” then Health Secretary Janette Garin said.

“The body was cremated, hence, this case has been declared closed,” she said, adding that there was no other way to safely confirm if the OFW had indeed died of bird flu.

A low pathogenic avian influenza virus, the H7N9 virus subtype, has been infecting birds and people in China. The strain first infected three humans in China in March 2013. In January this year, as many as 79 people have died from H7N9 in China bringing the total human death toll from the H7N9 strain to 100 since October last year.

Outbreaks across Europe and Asia have been ongoing since late last year, leading to mass culling of poultry in many countries. Strains currently documented as circulating in birds include H5N8 in many parts of Europe as well as in Kuwait, Egypt and elsewhere, and H5N1 in Bangladesh and India. —INQUIRER RESEARCH

Sources: Inquirer Archives, who.int



 First bird flu outbreak: 400,000 to be culled [Philippine Star, 12 Aug, 2017]

By Eva Visperas and Louise Maureen Simeon

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The Department of Agriculture plans to cull 400,000 chickens, quail and ducks after confirming the country’s first outbreak of bird flu in San Luis, Pampanga. File

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to cull 400,000 chickens, quail and ducks after confirming the country’s first outbreak of bird flu in San Luis, Pampanga.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said 38,000 poultry heads had died following the outbreak in six farms. The provincial government immediately declared Pampanga under a state of calamity.

There has been no case of human transmission so far, Piñol told reporters yesterday on the sidelines of the Luzon Mango Stakeholders Forum in Lingayen, Pangasinan.

But Piñol said they had to cull 400,000 poultry heads within a one-kilometer area because “we don’t want diseases to spread.”

Piñol reported that test specimens confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) sub-type H5 in the farms in Barangay San Agustin in San Luis. This type of virus is virulent and causes 80 to 100 percent mortality in the poultry industry, he said.

Piñol said there were indications of the virus outbreak as early as April “but the commercial poultry operators did not report it immediately.”

“Then the situation worsened around July,” Piñol told reporters.
Piñol said quarantine teams are now guarding the exits of San Luis to disinfect all vehicles leaving the area.

The DA targets to finish culling the animals in the next three days and the government said it will compensate affected farm owners.

“I don’t care if we have to kill a million, including those free range and stray fowls. What is that compared to the whole poultry industry?” he added.

A majority of the affected poultry heads are layered chickens that produce table eggs and products of farms being delivered within Pampanga only, which lessens the threat of bird flu spreading in other areas, particularly in Metro Manila.

The agriculture chief assured consumers that there has been no reported spread of the virus to Pampanga’s neighboring provinces.

DA-attached agency Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) is now in the process of sending samples to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, a World Organization for Animal Health reference laboratory for further testing.

While virus transmission from animals to humans is low, the Department of Health (DOH) advised the public to immediately report residents who might show symptoms of flu.

Piñol said initial reports showed the first outbreak started in a certain quail farm, killing around 50 of 70 ducks, wiping out all the quail and eventually spreading to other poultry farms.

According to Piñol, DA and BAI are still tracing the possible source and carrier of the virus.

“We have two possible sources. First is the migratory birds and second is the ongoing smuggling of Peking duck from China, possibly coursed through the Subic area,” he said.

Apart from confining the area, the department has ordered the ban of the shipment of fowl from Luzon.

“The good thing about the situation is that we are an archipelagic country. If there’s an outbreak in Luzon, we can still prevent it from spreading in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Piñol said.

Furthermore, the DA is now discussing its next course of action should there be a shortage in processed poultry products due to the outbreak of the virus, particularly as the Christmas season nears.

“It will obviously affect the food chain, especially we are nearing the – ber months. We have to increase the production of poultry and poultry products in Mindanao,” Piñol said.

“We will have to find other sources for chicks and hatching eggs because the majority really comes from Luzon,” he added.

Take precautions

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial urged the public to take precautions amid the outbreak.

According to Ubial, people “should cover their mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, wash their hands often, take plenty of water and juices and have enough rest and sleep.”

“Do not go near wild birds or go to farms with fowls. If you have flu symptoms that last longer than three days or feel very weak, see a doctor or go to nearest hospital for testing if it is bird flu,” Ubial said in a text message.

“Major epidemics of bird flu in the US have not documented any crossover to humans.

However, in Vietnam and Hong Kong, a case of human had been identified and died,” she added.

Ubial gave assurance that “cross infection” of bird flu to humans is minimal although fatal.

Based on the website of the World Health Organization, the world experienced the first outbreak of bird flu (H5N1) in poultry in Hong Kong in 1997. Since 2003, the virus has spread to Europe and Africa and that year, human infections with H7N9 were also reported in China, causing deaths.

“Animal influenza viruses are distinct from human seasonal influenza viruses and do not easily transmit between humans. However, zoonotic influenza viruses – animal influenza viruses that may occasionally infect humans through direct or indirect contact – can cause disease in humans ranging from a mild illness to death,” WHO said.

The agency added that most swine influenza viruses do not cause disease in humans, but some countries have reported cases of human infection from certain swine influenza viruses.

For the longest time, the Philippines has been one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that remains free of avian influenza.

The virus, which resurfaced in Asia in 2003, crippled poultry industries in neighboring countries such as Vietnam. – With Sheila Crisostomo, Cesar Ramirez, Ding Cervantes



 Philippines reports first avian flu, to cull 400,000 birds [Bangkok Post, 11 Aug, 2017]

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An employee grills barbeque chicken at a fastfood restaurant in Paranaque city, Metro Manila, Philippines Oct 31, 2016. (Reuters file photo)

MANILA, Aug 11 (Reuters) - The Philippines plans to cull 400,000 chickens, quails and ducks after confirming the country's first outbreak of bird flu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol on Friday.

The avian flu outbreak was detected in a farm in a town in Pampanga province, north of the capital Manila, which later spread to neighbouring farms. There has been no case of human transmission so far, Mr Pinol told reporters.

"We will cull all 400,000 birds within a 1-km area. We don't want diseases to spread," Mr Pinol said.

The source of the disease and the strain of avian flu were not immediately clear. There were indications as early as April of bird flu hitting one farm, but the situation worsened in July, with around 37,000 birds dying during the period, Mr Pinol said.

He said he has informed President Rodrigo Duterte of the outbreak and a report will be submitted to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health.

The Department of Agriculture will hold a briefing at 0800 GMT.

The Philippines is the latest country in Asia, Europe and Africa where the bird flu viruses have spread in recent months. Many strains only infect birds, but the H7N9 strain has led to human cases, including fatalities, in China.



 Philippines reports first avian flu outbreak, to cull 200,000 birds [Reuters, 11 Aug, 2017]

by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines will cull 200,000 chickens, quails and ducks after confirming the country's first outbreak of bird flu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said on Friday.

The avian flu outbreak was detected in a farm in San Luis municipality in Pampanga province, north of the capital Manila, which later spread to five neighboring farms. There has been no case of human transmission although health officials are conducting checks on farm workers.

"We have declared a 1-km (0.6 mile) quarantine radius with the epicenter being San Luis. All fowls found within the area will be culled and buried, and the estimated population is 200,000," Pinol told reporters at a news conference.

"That would include every bird, every duck, every quail, every poultry within the vicinity of the quarantine area."

The volume of birds to be culled was half of Pinol's initial estimate of 400,000, which he said was based on a preliminary evaluation and was later revised after inspection.

Initial tests ruled out the highly pathogenic H5N1 as the virus strain, Dr. Celia Carlos told reporters, and samples will be sent to Australia for further testing.

"The Department of Health is doing surveillance of possible human cases especially concentrating on people who have been exposed to the affected animals or poultry," Carlos said.

Culling should be completed within the next three days, said Pinol. The virus may have come from migratory birds from China or smuggled ducks, also from China, he said.

There were indications as early as April of bird flu hitting one farm, but the situation worsened in July, with around 37,000 birds dying during the period, Pinol said.

He said he had informed President Rodrigo Duterte of the outbreak and a report would be submitted to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

The Philippines is the latest country in Asia, Europe and Africa where the bird flu viruses have spread in recent months. Many strains only infect birds, but the H7N9 strain has led to human cases, including fatalities, in China.



 Philippines reports first H5 outbreak; new events in Laos, South Africa [CIDRAP, 11 Aug, 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring

philippines_map_0.jpg
mtkang / iStock

Agriculture officials in the Philippines reported the country's first highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza outbreak, which struck a commercial poultry farm in Pampanga province on Luzon, the country's largest island.

In other avian flu developments, Laos reported its first H5N1 outbreaks of 2017 and South Africa reported more H5N8 outbreaks, which have spread to some of its commercial ostrich farms.

Philippine outbreaks may have started in April

A report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said the Philippine outbreak began on Jul 24, killing 36,485 of 190,000 birds. Culling was ordered as one of the outbreak response steps, which also included movement controls, quarantine, disinfection, and enhanced surveillance.

A report today in the Manila Times, based on a media briefing with Emmanuel Pinol, the country's agriculture secretary, said the outbreak was confirmed in the city of San Luis and that six poultry farms were affected.

Most of the poultry deaths were in layer chickens. Pinol told reporters that the outbreak may have begun as early as April when deaths were reported in quail housed above ducks. He said ducks are the likely source of the outbreak, since they had contact with migratory birds.

The Times report said the outbreak site is 37 miles north of Manila and is close to swamps that are stopovers for migratory birds from the Asian mainland.

Further testing is under way to determine the subtype.

Developments in Laos, South Africa

Elsewhere, Laos reported five highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks, its first since October 2016, according to a separate OIE report yesterday.

The events all occurred on farms housing ducks and hens, starting between Jul 2 and Jul 25.

Four of the outbreaks occurred in Xaysomboun Special Region in the north central part of the country, and one occurred in Champasak province in the southwest.

Taken together, the virus killed 14,495 of 19,336 susceptible birds, with the remaining ones slated for culling.

South Africa, which has been battling H5N8 outbreaks since the middle of June, reported three more, including two in newly affected Western Cape province in the southwest, relatively far from two already-affected provinces.

One of the outbreaks began in Mpumalanga province, which has already reported several events, on Aug 7, killing 975 of 326,764 birds.

In Western Cape province, two outbreaks at commercial ostrich farms began Aug 9, killing 55 of 2,247 birds. South Africa's ostrich industry has been struck by several low pathogenic avian flu outbreaks over the past several years.



 Researchers work to control H5N8 avian influenza outbreak in the Congo [Homeland Preparedness News, 11 Aug, 2017]

by Alex Murtha

138px-Colorized_transmission_electron_micrograph_of_Avian_influenza_A_H5N1_viruses2.jpg


Using highly specific nuclear-derived techniques, a H5N8 avian influenza outbreak was recently identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and quickly put under control in the country’s Lake Albert region, according to scientists involved with the response efforts.

“This is the first time we spot this strain of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain in DR Congo,”
Curé Georges Tshilenge Mbuyi, head of the DRC’s Central Veterinary Laboratory in Kinshasa, said. “We were surprised, but also lucky to detect it soon enough.”

He continued, stating that not only did it have a devastating effect on poultry, but it could also be transmitted to humans.

Thanks to a training course organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the researchers were able to detect the virus and interpret testing results in such a manner that the outbreak is currently under control and limited to the DRC’s Lake Albert region.

One technique known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to identify the genome of the virus by amplifying a specific region in the pathogen’s DNA. The technology allows for the accurate identification of viruses, including Ebola and avian influenza, within a matter of hours.

Tshilenge Mbuyi and his team of researchers then sent prepared simples to a German laboratory that specializes in subcontractor genetic sequencing — a process that analyzes the nucleic acid information inside pathogens to describe the composition of genetic material.

The laboratory based in the DRC then interpreted the sequencing results received from Germany, which enabled the researchers to characterize the virus as H5N8 and discover the strain’s origin.

Once the virus was correctly identified and characterized, public health authorities began a number of sanitary measures on domesticated and wild birds along Lake Albert in order to control the virus’ outbreak. Veterinarians are also beginning to take samples from villages in the area in order to ensure that the virus isn’t spreading.

The H5N8 strain has also been recently identified in Uganda, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.



 Philippines: 1st avian influenza outbreak reported in Pampanga [Outbreak News Today, 11 Aug, 2017]

urica-1251980_640.jpg
Image/pavlofox

Philippine health officials are closely monitoring the events surrounding an avian flu outbreak in poultry in Pampanga, as reported by the Department of Agriculture (DA). DA decided to cull around 500,000 chickens to contain the animal outbreak.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said at least 38,000 chickens have died of the Avian influenza Type A Subtype H5 in San Luis town in the province north of Manila. He has ordered the halt of transport of poultry from Luzon to other parts of the country for now.

The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) has stepped-up the human flu like-illness surveillance since the reported human influenza outbreaks in Hongkong and India few months back and will now look for human cases who may have been exposed to avian flu strain in affected areas. Any person who becomes sick with fever and/or sore throat/cough and had exposure to these dead chickens should report to the local health center or nearest hospital for laboratory confirmation.

A team of DOH epidemiologists has been dispatched to assist the DA in the outbreak investigation. The DOH is now alerting hospitals in the affected areas to report similar cases.

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has the capacity to confirm these cases.

The DOH will coordinate efforts with DA, FAO and WHO to prevent human cases. The DOH has supply of anti-flu medication and commodities whenever regional health offices and hospitals will require these.

In the interim, all health providers should observe respiratory precautions when taking care of patients with flu or flu-like illness. Properly cooked chicken remains safe to eat.



 PH records first avian flu outbreak [ABS-CBN News, 11 Aug, 2017]

by Arianne Merez

State of calamity declared in Pampanga

MANILA (4TH UPDATE) - The Philippines has recorded its first bird flu outbreak and will cull around 200,000 fowls to control the spread of the virus, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Friday.

Around 37,000 fowls have died of the Avian Influenza Type A Subtype H5 in San Luis town, Pampanga, Piñol said in a press briefing Friday afternoon.

Piñol said 6 farms in Barangays San Carlos and Santa Rita in San Luis, Pampanga were affected by the outbreak.

"We are officially confirming the outbreak of Avian Influenza," he said.

Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda has declared a state of calamity in the province, Piñol said.

A 1-km radius quarantine area within San Luis town will be implemented, while another 7-km radius controlled area has been declared.

All fowls within the quarantine area will be culled within the next 3 days to control the virus, while fowls and eggs from the controlled area are not allowed to be brought out.

"All fowls found within the [quarantine] area will be culled, and buried," he said.

SOURCE OF OUTBREAK

Investigation of the outbreak began last Aug. 4, Piñol said. But deaths of quail and ducks began on the last week of April, followed by reported deaths of chickens in May.

Piñol said the agency has yet to confirm the source of the outbreak as tests would still be conducted in Australia.

"There are still reported and maybe unreported poultry mortalities in the area," he said.

The agriculture chief said 3 farms suffered a 100 percent mortality rate of its fowls, while overall mortality rate in the affected area was placed at 34.5 percent.

A total of 90 quarantine officers have been deployed to the area, Piñol said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has also ordered a ban on the transport of poultry from Luzon to other parts of the country until further notice to control the outbreak.

HEALTH CONCERNS
Avian influenza is a viral infection that spreads among birds but can infect humans as well.

As of Friday, authorities have not received any report of human infection, Piñol said.

He also allayed concerns over the outbreak, saying the DA has long prepared for it.

"The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry is not unprepared. They have long prepared for this crisis...This is not something that should cause us panic," he said.
In a text message Friday, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial meanwhile said the outbreak is still under the DA's investigation and advised the public to take precautionary measures against the flu.

"Do not go near wild birds or go to farms with fowls! If you have flu symptoms that last longer than 3 days or feel very weak, see a doctor or go to the nearest hospital for testing if its bird flu!" she said.

A team of epidemiologists from the Department of Health (DOH) has also been dispatched to assist the DA in investigating the outbreak, the health department said in a statement.

The DOH also assured the public that it has a supply of anti-flu medication should regional health offices and hospitals need it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), human infection is primarily acquired through direct contact with infected animals.

The infection may cause diseases such as mild conjunctivitis or swelling of the eyes, severe pneumonia and even death. Interaction with humans infected with the flu, however, does not result in "efficient transmission" between people.

The WHO also clarified that there is no evidence that the avian flu can be acquired by eating properly cooked eggs or poultry. -- with a report from Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News



 Philippines declares first ever H5 bird flu outbreak [Phys.Org, 11 Aug, 2017]

The Philippines declared its first ever outbreak of the H5 strain of bird flu on Friday, but said there had been no cases of humans infected.

An immediate cull was ordered for all chicken, ducks and quail within a kilometre (0.6 miles) of the infected poultry in San Luis town, north of Manila, said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol.

The health department was meanwhile monitoring the health of farm workers exposed to the infected birds, he added.

"So far we do not have any reported animal to human transmissions," Pinol told a news conference.

Pinol said the infected birds tested positive for avian influenza Type A, sub-type H5.

The avian flu strains that have been known to jump to humans are the H5N1 and H5N7 subtypes, said Celia Carlos, director of the health department's Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Philippine officials have not yet said which H5 subtype the infected birds carried.

"The transmission risk is low, but the mortality is high. It is a concern," said Carlos, especially for infants as well as people suffering from other ailments.

The World Health Organization has monitored 453 human deaths from 859 cases of avian influenza since 2000, with Asia accounting for 41 percent of all cases.

The Philippines had not previously reported any human cases, according to WHO data.

About 200,000 birds would have to be put down and their carcasses buried, Pinol said, adding farmers would be compensated.

The six infected Philippine farms only sold their products to local consumers and none had been exported, Pinol said.

However, the outbreak began in April and the farm owners had neglected to report it to the authorities immediately, he added.

To prevent the potential spread of avian flu, the government has banned the transport of all poultry products from within seven kilometres of the infected farms, Pinol said.

He said the authorities suspect the virus could have been spread by migratory birds or from smuggled poultry products.

San Luis, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Manila, is close to the Candaba swamps, a major way station and destination for migratory birds who move out of the Asian mainland during winter.



 Philippines to cull 200,000 fowl after bird flu outbreak [ABC News, 11 Aug, 2017]

<
a href="/_images/blog/_560/mat-important-issues/WireAP_15943a7362624674a70b99060e5f3d74_12x5_992.jpg" target="_blank">WireAP_15943a7362624674a70b99060e5f3d74_12x5_992.jpg
Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol holds a manual for Avian Influenza Protection during a news conference on the confirmation of the first bird flu case in the country Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Pinol said the Philippines will cull at least 400,000 birds after confirming its first bird flu outbreak, but that no animal-to-human transmission has been reported. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

The Philippines will cull at least 200,000 birds after confirming its first avian flu outbreak, but no animal-to-human transmission has been reported, officials said Friday.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said he ordered the culling of all fowl within a kilometer (0.6 mile) of six affected farms in northern Pampanga province's San Luis town.

The area has been declared a quarantine zone with a 7-kilometer (4-mile) surveillance area also established around the farms.

Pinol said he was informed Thursday that 37,000 birds have died from avian influenza subtype H5, which can cause illness and deaths in both animals and humans. Experts believe the ducks to be the virus carrier, he added.

He said he has informed President Rodrigo Duterte, the Department of Health and will report the outbreak to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Pinol said farmers did not immediately report the deaths, which spiked in July, because they thought were from ordinary poultry disease.

Alene Asteria Vytiaco, an official of the Bureau of Animal Industry, said they will send samples collected from the farms to the World Organization for Animal Health and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory for further testing.
———
This version corrects that the Philippines is ordering fowl, not fouls, to be culled.



 H9N2 avian influenza case reported in Chinese baby [Outbreak News Today, 10 Aug, 2017]

urica-1251980_640 VVV.jpg


A 2-month old female child who lives in Guangdong Province, China was confirmed positive for A(H9N2) influenza in June, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), becoming the third case in China this year.

She had onset of influenza-like illness (ILI) on 28 April 2017. The patient was hospitalized on 9 June. A sample collected from the patient on 13 June as part of ILI surveillance was laboratory-confirmed as positive for A(H9N2) influenza virus on 16 June.

The patient was exposed to backyard poultry prior to illness. She has fully recovered.

The two previous cases reported this year were in February and May in a 11 month old child and a 32 year old man, respectively.

In most human cases of avian influenza A(H9N2), the associated disease symptoms have been mild and there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission. Influenza A(H9N2) viruses are enzootic in poultry populations in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Most human cases are exposed to the A(H9N2) virus through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments. Human infection tends to result in mild clinical illness. Since the virus continues to be detected in poultry populations, further human cases can be expected.



 Zimbabwe: Avian Flu Threatens Poultry Production [AllAfrica.com, 10 Aug, 2017]

By Farai Mabeza

Poultry production in Zimbabwe and its neighbours is under threat from the outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which is commonly referred to as the bird flu, the Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned.

Outbreaks of the disease are threatening the livelihoods and food security status of millions of families in the region and experts said remedial action to fully exterminate the bird flu must be quickly implemented.

"If not tackled quickly, the HPAI outbreak impedes trade opportunities and will reverse the gains made in enhancing food and nutrition security," FAO said.

Experts and policy makers from Southern Africa met last week in South Africa to assess preparedness, share information and explore both immediate and longer-term response actions.

FAO sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri, said poultry was important to the economy and livelihoods of the region.

"Poultry production is a major source of income for many, particularly rural women and youth," Phiri said.



 Researchers work to control H5N8 avian influenza outbreak in the Congo [International Atomic Energy Agency, 9 Aug, 2017]

by Laura Gil, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication

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The same virus strain has also been detected in Uganda, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and experts are concerned that it may spread further in the region, because wild birds can carry it across long distances. (Photo: L. Gil/IAEA)

Scientists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have identified a new outbreak of avian influenza using highly specific and sensitive nuclear-derived techniques. Thanks to a quick detection and characterization of the virus and subsequent local response, the outbreak is currently under control and limited to the Lake Albert region, near the border with Uganda, scientists have said.

“This is the first time we spot this strain of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain in DR Congo. We were surprised, but also lucky to detect it soon enough,” said Curé Georges Tshilenge Mbuyi, head of the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Kinshasa. Stopping the spread of the virus early is particularly important, he added: Not only does it have a devastating effect on poultry, but it can also be transmitted to humans.

Tshilenge Mbuyi and his team learned how to detect such viruses and interpret the results during recent training courses organized by the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

They first used a nuclear-derived technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to identify the genome of the virus. This technology allows for the identification of viruses — including Ebola — within a few hours and with a high degree of accuracy.

The team then submitted specially prepared samples to a laboratory in Germany, a subcontracting genetic sequencing service that the IAEA provides to its Member States. The
DR Congo laboratory then had to interpret the sequencing results received from the German lab. It was thanks to the training he received that Tshilenge Mbuyi could interpret the sequence data, characterize the virus as H5N8 and find out crucial information such as the origin of the strain and the way the disease was developing.

Once the scientists confirmed the presence and strain of the virus, authorities immediately applied a series of sanitary measures to control the outbreak, including culling all domesticated and wild birds along the lake. Veterinarians are now beginning to take samples from villages in the wider region to ensure the virus has not spread, Tshilenge Mbuyi said.

The same virus strain has also been detected in Uganda, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and experts are concerned that it may spread further in the region. “They’re wild birds that migrate with the change of seasons, so they can carry the virus across long distances,” said Ivancho Nateloski, technical officer at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, and in partnership with the FAO, has been supporting veterinary authorities in DR Congo since the early 1990s with training courses, scientific visits, expert visits and through the provision of relevant equipment, materials and guidance for the early diagnoses and control of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.

THE SCIENCE PCR

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a highly sensitive and accurate technique that is well-suited for identifying virus strains and bacteria. This technique uses an enzyme to replicate, or amplify, a specific genetic region of a pathogen’s DNA billion-fold in just half an hour. Scientists then detect and monitor this DNA amplification through either radioisotopes or by counting fluorescent molecules attached specifically to the created gene sequences.

Genetic sequencing

Sequencing is a nuclear-derived technique that analyses the way the nucleic acid (RNA and
DNA) information inside pathogens is arranged. Genetic sequencing describes the composition of the genetic material, helping scientists predict the function of the gene analysed, its impact and the behaviour of the pathogen. This not only helps diagnose a disease, but can also disclose its origin and evolution and potential dangers.

Such nuclear-based tools and techniques are frequently used for detecting acute illnesses and diseases such as Ebola or foot-and-mouth disease.
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 1 July till 8 Aug 2017



 Bird flu confirmed in wild swan in the Norfolk Broads [Norfolk Eastern Daily Press, 8 Aug, 2017]

by Chris Hill

image Chris Hill.jpg
A mute swan flies over the Norfolk Broads. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A wild swan has tested positive for bird flu in the Norfolk Broads – prompting renewed warnings for poultry keepers to be on their guard against the disease.

The mute swan found at a wild bird reserve on July 26 was infected with the H5N8 strain of avian influenza, the virus which sparked a series of bird culls and preventative actions within the poultry industry earlier this year.

Wild birds are a major risk of spreading the disease, and this is the first positive case confirmed for 16 weeks by Defra’s ongoing wild bird surveillance programme.

But a Defra spokesman said, unlike outbreaks found in domestic and commercial poultry, the wild bird case would not trigger any protection zones or mitigation measures – but should serve as a warning that the disease remains a risk for both commercial farmers and back-yard flocks.

She said: “A recent finding in a dead wild bird serves as a timely reminder for all keepers – whether they have commercial flocks or a few birds in their back garden – to continue to follow good practice on biosecurity to reduce the risk of infection, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds inside.”

The country’s most recent case of H5N8 in poultry was confirmed in Norfolk on June 3, when an outbreak hit a small flock of around 35 chickens and geese in a garden in Diss. That was the region’s third case of the year, after 23,000 birds were culled at a farm in the village of Redgrave in February, and a further 55,000 birds culled after the virus was identified at a nearby duck unit.

The government enforced a mandatory housing order requiring poultry keepers to keep their birds indoors, which remained in place in “higher risk areas” until May, when the risk of infection from wild birds receded.

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency says bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.



 Fifth outbreak of bird flu reported [Times LIVE, 4 Aug, 2017]

BY KGAUGELO MASWENENG

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A contagious strain of bird flu is spreading through poultry in Mpumalanga. Image: Thinkstock Images.

Two months after the initial outbreak‚ further cases of H5N8 avian influenza have been reported on a farm in Mpumalanga.

The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) and the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) said this was reported by Astral Foods Limited (Astral) on a farm owned by the company in Standerton in the Lekwa District Municipality.

“The Welbedacht Farm is a breeder Farm with 48 houses and one of the houses was said to have infected birds. The farm has been quarantined and the national and provincial Departments of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) have implemented the required control measures‚” the association said in a statement.

H5N8 is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds. It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted through contact with infected animals or ingestion of infected food or water.

According to the organisation‚ the latest incident brings the number of outbreaks on commercial farms over the past few weeks to five.

However‚ it added: “despite this‚ the birds affected are still a very small percentage of the total South African chicken flock with very limited impact on the supply of poultry products”. The association reminded consumers that the current strain of bird flu has not been found to be dangerous to humans‚ as confirmed by the World Health Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health.



 CALLS FOR GOVT TO INTERVENE AFTER ANOTHER BIRD FLU OUTBREAK [Eyewitness News, 3 Aug, 2017]

by Masa Kekana

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Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - A local poultry farm that’s confirmed a second outbreak of bird flu has called on government to take swift action as it did with the maize industry when it was hit by the fall army worm.

A second outbreak of avian influenza on an astral poultry breeding farm has been confirmed.

That outbreak has since been dealt with and the farm is under quarantine. However, there’s been an isolated outbreak at another farm in Mpumalanga.

Astral Foods says there are a number of poultry farms in the Welbedacht area and this outbreak could pose a threat to its operations there.

But Astral adds that the lessons learnt from the first outbreak will be used to stop the spread of the bird flu virus.

The company says this new outbreak is unrelated to the June outbreak at its farm in Villiers and is isolated.

It says the virus has impacted one shed on the Welbedacht farm and is being managed.

Astral Foods also says it would like the government to better assist the poultry industry by regulating the use of vaccination programmes.

Thousands of chickens have been culled in the country since bird flu was detected in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State earlier this year.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)



 UN: Urgent Action Needed to Contain Avian Flu in Southern Africa [Voice of America, 2 Aug, 2017]

HARARE, ZIMBABWE —

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The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says besides Zimbabwe, the other countries in the region hit by the avian influenza outbreak are the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has called an emergency meeting this Wednesday in South Africa of all countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) following an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Aid workers are concerned what this could mean for food security in the region, where a fall armyworm invasion and drought have decimated crops in recent years.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says besides Zimbabwe, the other countries in the region hit by the avian influenza outbreak are the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

While officials haven’t released figures for the numbers of birds affected, the FAO said the outbreak is currently concentrated in one province of Zimbabwe and three in South Africa.

Earlier this year, the FAO issued a warning to the SADC regional bloc, after the virus was detected in the Lake Victoria area in East Africa.

David Phiri, the head of FAO in Southern Africa, told VOA it is urgent to contain the outbreak.

“Avian influenza is a trans-boundary pest and disease, and it can move from one country to another, from one site to another. So there is a possibility, very easily that it could spread in those particular countries or even beyond the borders. For this reason, we need to control it and to also ensure that there is also prevention measures – both by the countries affected and other countries that have not been affected…."

"Poultry is what a lot of families depend on for protein. It is the cheapest protein. It [The outbreak] is also coming in the backdrop of two years of heavy droughts, last being affected by El Nino. That was a disaster itself for the sub-region. More recently, we have had an outbreak of fall armyworm which has affected some farmers very, very badly. So we cannot afford another very serious outbreak that could reduce food security and livelihoods in the sub-region,” he said.

Dr. Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, chief veterinary officer of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture, has this advice for farmers.

“Just make sure that birds that are produced do not have contact with anything from outside that is not well-managed. Sometimes in traditional systems, people receive poultry as gifts and they put it among the poultry that they are having at home. That is very dangerous. Normally, some of these viruses can cause diseases in people, but this one is a bit different. That gives a bit of joy, but it is not easy to deal with because it spreads very quickly and it kills birds. So those doing businesses with high numbers of birds are very, very susceptible,” said Obatolu.
In recent years, African countries have responded to avian flu outbreaks by closing their borders to poultry imports and culling large numbers of exposed birds.



 Zimbabwe: Avian Flu Hits Again [AllAfrica, 31 July 2017]

By Elita Chikwati

Lanark Farm in Beatrice has been hit again by a highly pathogenic avian influenza, the second time that the farm has had such an attack.

The first outbreak, which killed thousands of chickens, occurred in May.

The current outbreak has been confirmed by the laboratory to be linked to the first one caused by Avian Influenza- H5N8 type virus.

Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services acting principal director, Dr Josphat Nyika confirmed the outbreak on Friday.

"We would like to inform the nation, trade and development partners of the recurrence of highly pathogenic avian influenza or bird flu outbreak at Lanark Farm on Monday," he said.

"Lanark Farm is a registered poultry compartment situated 25 kilometres south of Harare. It is the only farm in the country that has been affected by the disease and every effort is being made to prevent infection from escaping the establishment."

Dr Nyika said the disease had initially been detected and confirmed in May this year and the situation had stabilised following complete depopulation of affected poultry sites by June 1, 2017.

"The farm had been in quarantine under veterinary supervision since then and will now remain in quarantine for three months or until the disease is completely resolved," he said.

"All birds in the newly affected sites were destroyed and buried together with their litter on site."

Dr Nyika said his department was maintaining heightened countrywide clinical and serological surveillance in all commercial poultry production farms, live poultry markets and areas close to big water bodies.

He requested all poultry farmers and the general public to report any incidences of high mortalities of domestic or wild birds to their nearest veterinary offices.

The outbreak of avian influenza involved the serotype H5 N8 of the Avian Influenza virus, which had been spreading in a second wave around the world since 2010.

The virus has been re-introduced to Europe from Asia, where it remained in continuous circulation and was detected in Uganda, among other countries in Africa, earlier this year.
Influenza viruses are highly contagious and therefore spread very quickly in susceptible populations.

The viruses occur naturally in wild water birds. However, the viruses change dynamically and highly virulent strains can occur from time to time, causing major human and animal illness and death.

Unlike other serotypes, which have caused concern in past years, H5 N8 wherever it has occurred recently, has not shown any risk to humans.

Symptoms of avian influenza include quick illness and sudden deaths.



 Authorities in Myanmar’s Dawei Shut Schools Amid ‘Bird Flu’ Outbreak [Radio Free Asia, 27 July 2017]

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Myanmar residents wear surgical masks in the country's commercial capital Yangon in an undated photo.

Authorities in the city of Dawei in southeastern Myanmar’s Tanintharyi region on Thursday ordered all schools closed for five days and more than 20,000 chickens to be culled amid an outbreak of the highly contagious avian influenza.

The moves come a day after confirmation from tests on poultry carcasses confirmed that thousands of birds had succumbed to the deadly H5N1 strain of “bird flu” at farms in Dawei, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) southeast of the commercial capital Yangon.

“We closed the schools because we were concerned about the children,” said Hopin, the regional government’s social minister. “That’s why we have closed kindergartens and elementary, middle, and high schools until July 31.”

The Thanintharyi regional government also ordered the culling of more than 20,000 chickens infected with the avian flu and put farm owners and workers under observation for signs of the disease.

Chickens from six farms in the Dawei area have been infected, and authorities suspect that birds on two other farms have contracted the disease.

The virus was detected on July 16 at a poultry farm in the town’s Wekyunhtainthit ward where it killed more than 1,800 birds, according to a report by Eleven Myanmar media group.

The highly infectious flu causes severe respiratory disease in poultry that can sometimes be transmitted to humans.

Swine flu cases rise

The report of the outbreak of H5N1 in Dawei comes a day after the government said that two people in Yangon and one in northwestern Myanmar’s Chin state died from the H1N1 “swine flu” influenza, and that more than a dozen others had contracted the virus.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports on Thursday confirmed that the number of cases of H1N1 had risen to more than 30 people, and that two more people died from H1N1 in Sanpya hospital, Thingangkuun township, of Yangon region, bringing the total number of deaths so far to six.

A five-year-old girl from Eastern Dagon township died on Wednesday and a 34-year-old man from Dagon Seikkan township died Thursday morning, health officials said.

“We had three patients we suspect of having contracted the virus, and we have now confirmed it is H1N1,” said Aung San Min, superintendent of Sanpya Hospital.

“Two out of three have died,” he said. “The condition of the women infected with H1N1 is improving.”

Request for help

Myanmar’s health ministry on Thursday asked the Paris-based World Health Organization, the United Nations health agency, for help in fighting the H1N1 virus, fearing that the current outbreak will spread, especially in the commercial capital Yangon.

“We have requested help from the WHO,” including diagnosis equipment and medicine, said deputy director general of the public health department Than Tun Aung in a report by Agence-France Presse.

The ministry has urged the public to take precautionary measures by avoiding crowded places, washing their hands frequently, and covering their mouths.

After news of the outbreak circulated on social media, Yangon residents began wearing surgical masks to cover their noses and mouths to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

Health Minister Myint Htwe will hold a national-level meeting on the prevention and treatment of H1N1 influenza with international medical experts and local and foreign physicians at the Nursing University in Yangon on Sunday to formulate short-term and long-term plans to address the outbreak, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported.

H1N1, which spreads from person to person by inhaling the virus, or by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, and then touching one’s mouth or nose, became a global pandemic in 2009.

Its flulike symptoms include coughing, fever, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue.

Myanmar has seen eight rounds of the H5N1 virus since 2006, and has reported 458 cases of the H1N1 virus since 2009, according to the country’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department and health and sports ministry.

By Thet Su Aung and Waiyan Moe Myint for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.



 Gov't to Step up Oversight of Migratory Birds to Prevent AI [KBS WORLD Radio News、 25 July 2017]



The state quarantine agency said Tuesday that it will step up cooperation with related organizations to better respond to avian influenza(AI).

The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency said that it signed memorandums of understanding(MOU) with the National Institute of Biological Resources and the National Science Museum on sharing information on migratory birds and strengthening collaboration.

The MOUs are designed to facilitate sharing among agencies that collect data on migratory birds for different purposes and to thereby more effectively respond to a bird flu outbreak.

The quarantine agency has also attached location tracking devices on migratory birds for AI prevention and is analyzing their travel paths and risks they pose to local farms.

The Institute of Biological Resources, meanwhile, is conducting studies on migratory birds for purposes of their preservation, AI response and ecological tourism.

The National Science Museum is also carrying out research using tracking devices for the preservation of natural monuments and endangered species.

The latest agreements are expected to enable preemptive response measures to AI to better protect the domestic poultry industry and also help improve the management and protection of migratory birds.



 Govt. to keep better track of migratory birds to help prevent avian influenza [The Korea Herald, 25 July 2017]

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The state quarantine agency said Tuesday it will work with a number of different organizations that monitor migratory birds for systematic prevention of avian influenza.

The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency said it signed memorandums of understanding with the National Institute of Biological Resources, the National Science Museum and other related organizations to share their studies and research results.

Migratory birds are believed to bring in AI strains to South Korea, causing a major epidemic of the disease. South Korea had to cull some 33 million birds last winter to contain a national outbreak.

The organizations that the agency partnered with have been collecting data on migratory birds for research purposes. The agency said information sharing can make it easier to enact preventive measures for bird flu. (Yonhap)



 Health Ministry warns of bird flu [Khmer Times, 25 July 2017]

By Pech Sotheary

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Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann. KT/Mai Vireak


The Ministry of Health yesterday warned people to be aware of the new avian influenza strain H7N9, which has spread to poultry in China and neighbouring countries.

Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said that in past two years, Cambodia has not had any cases of avian influenza H5N1 infecting people, despite it spreading to poultry in Svay Rieng province early this year.

However, he said officials are concerned about the new avian flu H7N9, which has been spreading in China, Vietnam and Laos.

Mr Sovann, also the chief of the ministry’s Communicable Disease Control department, appealed to the public and authorities yesterday to be more cautious, and diligently report any cases of sick or dead poultry.

“H7N9 is a subtype that we may not be able to contain,” he said. “We can contain H5N1 so far, but H7N9 is difficult. For H5N1, if it infects poultry, we see the poultry die immediately, so we can contain it from spreading. But when H7N9 infects poultry, they are sick but don’t die and can pass it on to humans.”

“It is very difficult so we are concerned,” he added.

According to Mr Sovann, Cambodia has not identified any cases of H7N9 thus far.

Teng Srey, deputy director of the Communicable Disease Control department, said if a person was to contract H7N9, they would experience the same symptoms of H5N1, including a fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia.

Dr Srey appealed to people to be vigilant and maintain good hygiene in their households, especially when dealing with poultry. She added that people should not eat sick or dead poultry because it can lead to them contracting the virus.

“It is likely to happen because this virus is still circulating on poultry,” she said. “H7N9 has infected poultry in Laos as well as in Vietnam. Although it has not been transmitted to humans yet, we must remain vigilant in Cambodia because we import meat from Vietnam.”

As of June 15, a total of 1,533 H7N9 cases were reported worldwide, including 592 people who died from the virus, a Health Ministry report said.



 Poor management responsible for bird flu resurgence [The Guardian, 23 July 2017]

By Gbenga Akinfenwa

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It is a potentially devastating disease, predominantly of chickens and turkeys, although the virus can also affect game birds (pheasants, partridge and quail), ratites (ostrich and emu), psittacine and passerine birds.

Currently, Poultry farmers are groaning under the burden of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu), ravaging poultry farms across the country. The disease is reportedly spread by migratory wild birds and movement of infected birds and products, which can have serious socio-economic, public health, as well as security implications. Experts say the disease can kill all birds in a poultry farm and can cause 100 per cent mortality.

That high mortality of birds are recorded in some poultry farms and markets is to say the least, as farmers have plunged into debt, while others have been forced to close to shops.

Bird flu is a highly contagious viral disease, initially of birds but affects other animal species and humans. It is a potentially devastating disease, predominantly of chickens and turkeys, although the virus can also affect game birds (pheasants, partridge and quail), ratites (ostrich and emu), psittacine and passerine birds.

It is caused by an orthomyxovirus, or influenza virus and can survive for considerable lengths of time outside of the host and birds are infected through contact with other birds, mechanical vectors, such as vehicles, equipment and personnel travelling between farms, markets and abattoirs.

The disease was first reported in Nigeria in 2006, but it was completely eradicated within two years, until January 2015 when it was reported in live bird markets in Lagos and some farms in Kano.

But despite government’s reported efforts at eliminating the disease, for one year now, the country has consistently experienced Avian Influenza, as a result of several predisposing factors and policies, leading to its persistence in the country.

After efforts to control its spread early this year, last month, the Federal Government confirmed its resurgence in seven states-Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Nasarawa, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Plateau, covering 123 local government areas and 800 poultry farms.

In Kano State alone, no fewer than 13,000 birds, from nine farms have been confirmed killed by the bird flu. The state’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Shehu Bawa, who disclosed this said the number of fresh casualties only accounted for cases officially reported and documented at the ministry, noting that the affected farms had since been depopulated to check further spread.

The Guardian learnt that one of the factors responsible for resurgence of the disease is government’s failure to compensate farmers whose birds were affected.

This was confirmed by the Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of Nigerian Veterinary Medical
Association (NVMA), Dr. Alao Mobolaji, who told The Guardian that the resurgence is largely due to poor management of recent outbreaks. He noted that the management of the 2014 outbreak was so poor that the disease spread from Kano to Lagos and then to 26 other states, leading to destruction of over three million poultry across the country.

“These three million was what was reported officially, if we decide to compute many others that were not accounted for, either due to ignorance or stigma, we could be counting as much as much as five million poultry. The summary of this is that the outbreak has been poorly managed by the government agencies responsible for this via the federal ministry of agriculture.”

It was learnt that as of June, Kano, Ebonyi and other affected states were yet to receive compensation, a major factor responsible for failure of other poultry farmers facing the scourge to kill their affected birds.

In Kano, according to Secretary of the Poultry Farmers Association (PFA), Umar Kibiya Umar, the last time farmers received compensation was in 2015, noting that the money was paid in part. “No money was paid in 2016, let alone the recent cases. In 2015 and 2016, 136 farms were affected in which over one million birds were lost.

“To set the records straight, the Federal Government paid N330m as part payment in 2015, leaving N437m to balance our members for the two years.” Umar registered their grouse with government for failing to settle a backlog of compensation to farmers who lost millions of birds to earlier outbreak.

In Ebonyi, 20 poultry farmers affected by the December 2016 bird flu attack are still awaiting compensation. If the assurance of the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Uchenna Orji, is to be taken serious, government would do the needful this month.

To curtail its spread, the Administrative Secretary, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Oyo State Chapter, Olugbenga Samuel, said the body has commenced sensitisation of all members to beef-up bio-security operation in their various farms.

“Secondly, the Federal Government has not given us the go-ahead to vaccinate birds for this disease, because we believe that immediately we begin to vaccinate, it means the disease has come to stay in Nigeria and most times we have vaccination failure. To some extent presently, we are taking every step to curtail its spread, for example bio-security, by trying to minimise its effect, making a barricade in and around our poultries, unless you have something to do there before we give you access to the place.”

On its part, Ebonyi State government organised a training programme for poultry farmers on ways of preventing and handling incidences of the disease. Director of Veterinary Services, Ibiam Okoro said both the Federal and state governments have mandated state ministries of agriculture through their veterinary departments, to take measures to prevent and contain avian influenza.

He noted that the enforcement of the directive was imperative because of the negative attitude of poultry farmers who place undue emphasis on profit making than ensuring the health and general wellbeing of citizens and their poultry produce.



 New changes to NPIP - Avian increased biosecurity [Southernminn.com, 17 July 2017]

by Mary Phipps

The 2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza event involved hundreds of poultry producers and dozens of companies and animal health officials in Minnesota, and other Midwestern states.

Analysis of the event and epidemiologic studies indicate that after the initial point source introductions of the H5N2 HPAI virus in 2015, most HPAI cases were due to farm-to-farm spread. Prevention and reduction of future outbreaks pointed to increased biosecurity.

The National Poultry Improvement Plan worked on principles to serve as the minimum management practices and principles a poultry operation must follow to be eligible for indemnity in the event HPAI is detected in their facility. Site specific plans for each poultry farm can be extrapolated from the minimum biosecurity principles.

On May 5, 2017 the Minnesota Board of Animal Health along with other NPIP State Agencies and Authorized Labs were notified that the proposed changes to the NPIP Program Standards were official. This included the 14 Biosecurity Principles which became effective on July 5, 2017. The 14 Point Biosecurity Principles are:

1. Biosecurity Responsibility.
2. Training.
3. Line of Separation
4. Perimeter Buffer Area
5. Personnel
6. Wild Birds, Rodents and Insects
7. Equipment and Vehicles
8. Mortality Disposal
9. Manure and Litter Management
10. Replacement Poultry
11. Water Supplies
12. Feed and Replacement Litter
13. Reporting of Elevated Morbidity and Mortality
14. Auditing

These Biosecurity Principles will be required for all commercial poultry premises with the following exemptions: Commercial table-egg laying premises with fewer than 75,000 birds; Raised for Release Upland Game Bird / Waterfowl premises that raise fewer than 25,000 birds annually; Commercial broiler premises that raise fewer than 100,000 broilers annually; Commercial meat-type turkey premises that raise fewer than 30,000 turkeys annually.

Next steps – The Minnesota Board of Animal Health will be responsible for conducting the audits and sending an audit summary to USDA-APHIS. All audits will be paper; there will be no site visits. Audit materials may be provided in either paper or electronic formats. Producers should be aware that all audits need to be completed by the Board within two years. Some audits may begin Fall 2017.



 AVIAN INFLUENZA : THE STRENGTHENED BIOSECURITY IN THE FARMS [The Siver Times, 15 July 2017]

The minister of Agriculture wants to break the black series. On 13 July, Stéphane Travert announced the strengthening of biosecurity measures in the poultry and waterfowls. The decree, which shall enter into force on the 1st of September, has the objective of limiting the risk of spread of avian influenza in the country.

This time, the department has decided to anticipate and to act before the migration of wild birds, which occur each fall. It must be said that in October 2016, this season has caused an epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) in poultry farms of the South-west. For the second year in a row, farmers have had to empty their aviaries and meet a crawlspace.

Now, breeders will be subject to an obligation of results. This new ordinance requires the development of specifications and guides for biosecurity. These will have to be scrupulously respected.

Shelter farms

The ministry is also calling for the protection of food intended for the captive animals. These tanks can be a mode of contamination ideal if the wild birds to feed on. Limit the contacts is therefore a priority.

The radius of the novelties is also the mandatory testing within the farms breeding stock. In effect, the resident animals are more likely to change their structure.

Always in the purpose of protection, the vehicles that circulate within a farm must be strictly followed. The idea is clear : if a pathogenic virus is introduced in a structure, its spread must be resisted by all means.

This arsenal may yet prove to be very constraining for farmers. But the stakes are real. The two epidemics successive has cost the farmers who had to cull their birds. By itself, the outbreak of 2016 has resulted in the death of 3.7 million ducks. This represents 250 million euros of losses.



 Africa: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Updates On Avian Influenza H5N8 Outbreak in South Africa [AllAfrica.com, 12 July 2017]

The HPAI H5N8 virus was confirmed in two further locations in South Africa, bringing the total of affected properties to four. The new locations involved commercial layer chickens on farms in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

The two farms were immediately placed under quarantine by the state Veterinarian. The quarantine includes, as a minimum, a prohibition of the movement of chickens and chicken products onto and off the farm. The necessary measures have been taken to contain and eliminate the disease as efficiently as possible on both farms.

Forward tracing was done and cull chicken depots were identified, which had received live cull chickens from one of the affected farms in the last 21 days. The records of these cull depots are being followed up to trace as many of these chickens as possible. The new Poultry Disease management Agency (PDMA) system of registration of persons buying and selling live chickens made it possible to trace these culls.

The PDMA registration process of sellers and traders of live chickens has progressed well and a number of initial challenges were ironed out. All role players in the poultry industry involved in the buying and selling of live chickens are strongly encouraged to comply with the registration and other requirements that are designed to allow the trade of live chickens to continue without compromising animal health.

The depopulation of the two poultry sites affected in June is complete. The carcasses, waste material, affected eggs and manure have been contained and will be dealt with to ensure prevention of spread of the disease, as well as to prevent contamination of the environment.

Export of chickens and chicken products from registered HPAI free compartments is continuing to countries that accept guarantees from such compartments. There is good cooperation from registered compartments to increase the testing frequency to monthly testing.

Exports of raw meat, eggs and live birds from South Africa to some trade partners have been disrupted, as one of requirements for the certification is country freedom from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, which cannot be provided since 22 June 2017. The export of products, which had been processed to ensure destruction of the virus, is also continuing, unless the trade partner has raised an objection.

The H5N8 virus does not affect humans, Department of Health through the National Institute of Communicable Diseases tested workers from the affected farms and no human cases have been detected.

The HPAI H5N8 viruses that have been isolated from these outbreaks are similar to the viruses isolated from Zimbabwe in June 2017 and from Egypt in 2016, which makes the likelihood of the involvement of wild birds high. Chicken owners and farmers are encouraged to prevent contact of their chickens with wild birds as much as possible.

Increased surveillance in wild birds, commercial chickens and backyard chickens is continuing.

Chicken owners, farmers and the public should remain vigilant and all cases of high mortalities in chickens and other birds should be reported to the nearest State Veterinarian.

The public is advised to avoid any gathering of chickens for shows, auctions and similar activities. However, should such activities continue, the organisers are advised to liaise with the State Veterinary Authorities and the auction houses must also be registered with the PDMA.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries



 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza update in SA [Independent Online, 12 July 2017]

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Johannesburg – The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries on Wednesday confirmed isolation of the virus on two other farms.

This follows the confirmation of an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza of the H5N8 type on two farms in Mpumalanga.

“The farms involved are commercial layer chicken farms in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Both farms have been quarantined and further control measures are being implemented to curb the spread of the disease. DAFF has also confirmed that the depopulation of the two sites affected in June has been completed”.

“This strain has been found not to be dangerous to humans and the birds affected are a very small percentage of the total South African chicken flock. At this stage there is still a limited impact on chicken and egg supply,” said the department.

The department said South African Poultry Association and the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) continue to support the efforts of South African Veterinary Service Authorities in implementing control measures for the disease.

“The registration process in respect of sellers and traders of live chickens is progressing well and role players are encouraged to comply with this control measure. Farmers are encouraged to observe strict biosecurity principles during this time to prevent introduction of the disease onto their farms. Should farmers require assistance they should contact their veterinarian or a state veterinarian,” said the department.

Members of the public were requested to report any sightings of higher than usual levels of chicken or wild bird mortalities to their local Department of Agriculture or alternatively to the PDMA.



 Outlook of Global Avian Influenza Market: Research Report during 2016-2021 [MedGadget, 11 July 2017]

Research-N-Reports-21.jpg


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Scope of The Report

The report provides a snapshot of the global clinical trials landscape

Report provides top level data related to the clinical trials by Region, Country (G7 & E7), Trial Status, Trial Phase, Sponsor Type and End point status

The report reviews top companies involved and enlists all trials (Trial title, Phase, and Status) pertaining to the company

The report provides all the unaccomplished trials (Terminated, Suspended and Withdrawn) with reason for unaccomplishment

The Report provides enrollment trends for the past five years

Report provides latest news for the past three month

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Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
Report Guidance
Clinical Trials by Region
Clinical Trials and Average Enrollment by Country
Top Five Countries Contributing to Clinical Trials in Asia-Pacific
Top Five Countries Contributing to Clinical Trials in Europe
Top Countries Contributing to Clinical Trials in North America
Top Countries Contributing to Clinical Trials in Middle East and Africa
Top Countries Contributing to Clinical Trials in Central and South America
Clinical Trials by G7 Countries: Proportion of Avian Influenza to Infectious Disease Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials by Phase in G7 Countries
Clinical Trials in G7 Countries by Trial Status
Clinical Trials by E7 Countries: Proportion of Avian Influenza to Infectious Disease Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials by Phase in E7 Countries
Clinical Trials in E7 Countries by Trial Status
Clinical Trials by Phase
In Progress Trials by Phase
Clinical Trials by Trial Status
Clinical Trials by End Point Status
Subjects Recruited Over a Period of Time
Clinical Trials by Sponsor Type
Prominent Sponsors
Top Companies Participating in Avian Influenza Therapeutics Clinical Trials
Prominent Drugs
Clinical Trial Profile Snapshots
Appendix
Abbreviations
Definitions
Research Methodology
Secondary Research
About GlobalData
Contact Us
Source
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 The Threat to America That No One is Talking About [Huffpost, 9 July 2017]

By Dr. Sudip Bose

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Our country has to maintain a strategy to use against a potential microbial attack that would strike terror in the hearts of every American if we’re not prepared for it when it hits. And make no mistake, it will come. It’s only a question of when.

Are we ready for the next pandemic? I would say no. We’ve made a start in preparing, but we’re not ready for a full-on microbial assault by any stretch.

According to a 2013 assessment by the World Bank,

“Pathogens with pandemic potential continue to emerge, and most of them are of animal origin (zoonotic). They include, for example, Ebola, H5N1 avian flu, H7N9 avian flu, HIV/AIDS, and two kinds of coronavirus: severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).”

The World Bank also points out that that:

“The 1918 pandemic flu, the most severe of the four flu pandemics in the last 100 years, infected up to 40 percent of some national populations and killed 50–100 million people.”

Let’s start at the beginning: a pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through human populations across a large region – a country or countries, a continent, or even worldwide — usually resulting in health issues serious enough to cause massive death among those infected.

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.”

That’s a quote from a TED Talk given by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in early 2015, only about a year after the start of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which ultimately claimed almost 29,000 lives. It’s now two years later, and the warning Gates gave still rings true as a very valid concern. In his talk, he said that there was no need to panic about this, but that, as a country, “we need to get going.”

He may have been right about not needing to panic. But it’s time to get going now.

The big question, though, is how? What do we do? How do we prepare for something that is ultimately unknowable until it hits?

We have a fairly recent example of a viral outbreak that can help us get ready for that fight – the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa of just a few years ago that I just mentioned. It was an unprecedented epidemic with an unprecedented response that took years to get under control.

The independent medical humanitarian organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) – more widely known in the US as Doctors Without Borders – organized a global response to the outbreak. The group is primarily made up of doctors who volunteer their time and expertise to any given global medical threat.

At its peak, MSF employed nearly 4,000 national staff and over 325 expatriate staff to combat the epidemic across the three countries.

In Liberia – just one of the three primary countries where the Ebola outbreak extended to – 189 health care workers died after contracting the virus. That’s one of every 10 workers who dedicated themselves to stopping the spread of the outbreak. Unfortunately, that pales in comparison to the general mortality numbers of the outbreak, which show that of the total 28,636 documented cases of people infected by the Ebola virus between 2014 and January 2016, there was a resulting 11,315 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

That’s a mortality rate of nearly 40 percent. Very scary stuff.

According to the non-fiction book, “The Hot Zone,” written by Richard Preston and published in the mid-90s after the Ebola virus first emerged from the jungles of Africa and claimed its first human victim, Preston writes:

“A hot virus from the rain forest lives within a twenty-four-hour plane flight from every city on earth. All of the earth’s cities are connected by a web of airline routes. The web is a network.

Once a virus hits the net, it can shoot anywhere in a day – Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles — wherever planes fly. Charles Monet and the life form inside him had entered the net.”

Charles Monet was the man initially infected with that life form – the Ebola virus — who Preston was writing about in “The Hot Zone.” Monet was trying to get to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, flying aboard a Kenya Airways flight. It was nothing more than luck that Monet didn’t infect anyone on the plane and luck that the virus really didn’t “enter the net” and spread worldwide. And this was some 35 years before the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

The next big viral outbreak doesn’t necessarily have to be something as exotic as an Ebola virus or some other as yet unknown zoonotic pathogen. It could simply be the next strain of influenza – the flu – that we’ve never seen before that could turn deadly. The source could be a natural epidemic, or it could be bio-terrorism.

Here are some of the steps we need to take to avoid at least a major worldwide health scare or at worst a pandemic:

Speed is the first factor. We’ve got to be able to quickly identify the threat and move to treat it as fast as possible. Speed is the ultimate weapon. Identification usually the easy part. Then what, though? How do we minimize the spread of the infection and contain it?

Reserves – in a word – just as in we have now as part of our current military. We need medical reservists who can be called up to handle an infectious outbreak – a US medical dream team ready to be deployed to the hot spots and begin front-line treatment and containment.

We need a group of key epidemiologists also ready to evaluate the disease and formulate a plan for the most effective treatment of the “microbial missile.” We need dedicated researchers who can identify and formulate treatment protocols, develop vaccines and research the most effective ways to eliminate the threat. Modern advances in biology should lessen the turnaround in the time it takes to look at a pathogen and then find a quick path to manufacturing drugs and vaccines at scale that could work against that pathogen or develop a universal treatment protocol to be implemented.

Exercises – practice. Now is the time to identify the personnel who would make up these teams and train them. We need to perform military-like exercises – “germ games” as Bill Gates called them in his TED Talk – to be ready for an outbreak. We’ve invested a lot as a nation to build up our military defenses – people, weapons and weapons platforms, hardware, software, logistics, networks, command structure – all of it. But if the next big threat to US human lives is microbial, what do we have invested right now to stop a major epidemic? Very little.

So we’ve got to get a response team ready. We’ve got to get a preparedness team ready to roll.

WHO is funded to monitor epidemics, but not to take action to stop them. We can’t let that gap go unfilled here in America.

The World Bank estimates that if we have a worldwide flu epidemic, we’d have millions of deaths. And they also say that as a result of the epidemic, global wealth would depreciate by more than $3 trillion. Not million, not billion – trillion.

Invest now. If we invested even a small fraction of that astronomical amount of money in readying to stop such an outbreak, wouldn’t it be worth it? And this kind of investment would evolve significant benefits beyond just being ready for the next pandemic. This should absolutely be a priority. We can build a terrific response system.

Leverage technology. Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that we’re barely able to keep up with and implement the improvements made on a monthly and yearly basis. So who knows the kind of technology we’d be able to leverage in the future. But even so, currently we can use modern technology that is now as simple and basic as cell phones. Cell phones can get information fed in from the public and can also be used to get information back out instantaneously. Satellite tracking can monitor people movement.

Response. Why not pair the medical people with the military to take advantage of the military’s ability to move quickly in response to a threat? It’s an idea Bill Gates surfaced in his talk, and I would agree with the strategy. There’s not one area of America we couldn’t get to quickly if we paired up the medical personnel with military movement and transportation.

There is a lot of room for progress and a lot we can do to be ready for the next pandemic. And we need to start now.



 Study shows avian flu may infect bats [Wisconsin State Farmer, 8 July 2017]

Bats also can carry diseases that are dangerous to humans, such as rabies

Suresh Kuchipudi, associate professor of virology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, conducted research to determine if little brown bats can be asymptomatic carriers of avian and human influenza viruses. Here, he infects cells with influenza virus as part of those studies.(Photo: Couirtesy of Sanjana Kuchipudi/Penn State)

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - Bats, which make up about a third of all mammalian species, play an important role in our ecosystem. They eat bugs that “bug” us, pollinate more than 500 species of plants, including banana and cacao, and distribute the seeds of many other plants.
However, they also can carry diseases that are dangerous to humans, such as rabies.

But they were never thought to host influenza viruses, until researchers studying pathogen diversity in bats in South and Central America identified two new influenza viruses in fruit bats.

Subsequently, researchers in Africa found 30 percent of the bats they tested were infected with a flu virus, although these bats did not show any signs of illness.

These discoveries led Suresh Kuchipudi, associate professor of virology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, to ask: Can bats be co-infected with avian and human influenza viruses? If so, can they act as carriers of influenza virus? Do they have the potential to contribute to the emergence of new pandemic influenza strains by mixing these two types of influenza viruses?

To answer these questions, Kuchipudi brought together a multidisciplinary team to conduct research focusing on little brown bats, the most widely spread bat species in North America.

“Although bats are elusive creatures, there is increasing interface between them and humans as a result of wildlife trade, bush-meat hunting, deforestation and urban development,” said Kuchipudi, who works in the college’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. “It’s important to determine if bats can allow infection of avian and human flu viruses, and if they could then serve as ‘mixing vessels’ and perhaps create the next pandemic flu virus. Up until now, no one has ever studied influenza virus receptors in bats.”

Influenza infects a wide range of domestic and wild animals. Some are highly specific to one kind of host, but others can be passed between species. “Swine flu” and “avian flu” are examples of previous pandemics in humans caused by influenza viruses that came from animals. Avian flu viruses continue to cause huge economic losses to the poultry industry and can threaten public health if they gain the ability to cross over into humans. Co-existence with another kind of flu virus in some other species, such as a bat, could provide them the genetic material they need to jump species.

“The remarkable thing about influenza viruses is the ability to constantly change and evolve,” Kuchipudi said. “Influenza virus evolution involves mutations in the virus to gain the ability to transmit to a completely different host species.”

With assistance from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Kuchipudi’s research team screened 20 little brown bats — 10 juvenile and 10 adult — for the presence of influenza receptors using cutting-edge scientific methods involving lectin histochemistry, along with confocal and electron microscopy.

The team tested for the presence of two specific receptors that are responsible for helping human and avian influenza viruses attach to cells. They further investigated whether avian and human flu viruses can bind to bat tissues.

“The study discovered that bats have the receptors in their respiratory and digestive tracts that are able to support binding of avian and human influenza viruses,” said Ruth Nissly, research technician and manager of Kuchipudi’s research lab. “Having both receptors, as in the case of ducks and pigs, is believed to create conditions that enable the virus to mutate and create a new strain, which, in turn, could infect other animals, including humans.”

Despite these findings, Kuchipudi said there is not yet a need to worry about a “bat flu.”

“While the sum of the evidence suggests that bats could play an important role in influenza epidemiology and zoonotic influenza emergence, we do not have sufficient scientific understanding to adequately predict which influenza strains may cause the next pandemic or what hosts they may come from,” he said.

He cited the need for more research on how influenza may manifest itself in bats, as well as for additional surveillance of wild bats.




 India is now free from bird flu [Zee News, 6 July 2017]

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Image for representational purpose only

New Delhi: The government on Thursday has declared the country free from highly pathogenic Avian Influenza ( H5N1 and H5N8), commonly known as bird flu.

During October 2016 and February 2017, the outbreak of this infectious viral disease of birds was reported at various epicentres in nine states and Union Territories.

A statement issued by the Agriculture Ministry said, surveillance has been completed in Delhi, Daman, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Odisha and it showed no evidence of presence of bird flu.

It said, "In view of the above, India has declared itself free from Avian Influenza (H5N8 and H5N1) from 6 June, 2017 and notified the same to World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)."

The Ministry said that the outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu was reported in Delhi, Gwalior (MP), Rajpura (Punjab), Hissar (Haryana), Bellary (Karnataka), Alappuzha and Kottayam (Kerala), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Daman and Khordha and Angul (Odisha).

The statement added, these outbreaks were notified to OIE and the control and containment operations were carried out as per the 'Action plan on preparedness, control and containment of Avian Influenza'.

(With PTI inputs)



 Chicken farm in Taichung hit by avian flu, 2,115 birds culled [Focus Taiwan News Channel (press release), 5 July 2017]

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(Photo courtesy of the Taichung City government)

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) A chicken farm in Taichung has been confirmed to be infected with a subtype of the highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza virus, leading to the culling of 2,115 birds, the city's Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office said Wednesday.

The office said it received a report of abnormal deaths of chickens at a farm in Taichung's Da'an District on Tuesday and immediately collected tissue samples from the animals.

After checking the samples, the office said it was confirmed that the farm had been hit by the virus, which caused the deaths in the chickens.

The farm's other chickens were culled Wednesday, and the farm and its surrounding areas were also sterilized, the office said.

No abnormalities have been detected at other poultry farms within a radius of one to three kilograms of the infected chicken farms, the office added.

As of Tuesday, 153 poultry farms around Taiwan had been hit by highly pathogenic strains of the avian influenza virus, resulting in more than 1.47 million birds being culled, according to data from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture.

(By Chao Li-yen and Elaine Hou)


? Three Mutations Could Help Bird Flu Spread Among Humans [Contagionlive.com, 5 July 2017]

by NICOLA M. PARRY

Scientists have identified 3 mutations that, if they occurred at the same time, could allow the avian influenza strain H7N9 to spread among humans.

Robert P. de Vries, PhD, from Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and Wenjie Peng, PhD, from The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, and colleagues published the results of their study online recently in PLOS Pathogens.

H7N9 is a subtype of avian influenza virus that usually infects birds. But, it is also a serious threat to human health, and has already crossed the species barrier into humans, causing hundreds of human infections and deaths. These cases have predominantly involved individuals exposed to H7N9-infected birds at poultry markets.

However, in an interview with Contagion[レジスタードトレードマーク], corresponding author James C. Paulson, PhD, professor and co-chair in the Department of Molecular Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute, explained that although the H7N9 virus subtype is infecting humans, it cannot easily spread between them.

Professor Paulson said that the avian virus cannot attach to cells in the lungs of humans. He noted that the virus has a protein called hemagglutinin (HA) that coats its surface and helps the virus bind to receptors on the cells that it infects. According to Professor Paulson, the amino acid structures of HA on human influenza viruses allow the viruses to recognize and bind to the receptors on cells in the human airway. In contrast, the HA in avian H7N9 influenza virus has a different structure and cannot effectively attach to cells in the human respiratory tract.

To effectively spread among humans, the avian virus thus needs to develop specificity to receptors in the human airway.

Yet, although avian H7N9 influenza virus is currently unable to effectively spread between humans, scientists remain concerned that the virus might one day mutate into a form that could easily transmit in this way.

Professor Paulson and colleagues therefore conducted a study to investigate which mutations would allow the virus to attach to human cells.

The researchers analyzed mutations in the H7N9 virus, focusing on a gene that codes for one HA protein known as H7. They investigated changes that would alter the amino acid structure of H7 HA, allowing it to switch to recognize receptors in the human airway.

The researchers found that three specific amino acid mutations in H7 HA allowed the virus to more easily bind to human airway cells in the laboratory. These subtle changes in the protein’s structure thus produced virus strains that switched their target from bird cells to human cells.

As to whether the virus could potentially make this switch in nature, Professor Paulson emphasized that he “took comfort in the fact that the switch required 3 amino acids.”

He went on to note that thousands of genomic sequences of influenza virus are isolated each year from humans and birds. And, although some reported cases have involved one of the three mutations, Professor Paulson stressed that none have involved all three mutations together.

Professor Paulson explained that his team was unable to introduce these mutations into actual H7N9 viruses to determine whether the changes would facilitate aerosol transmission of the virus in laboratory animals. This is because of a moratorium on gain-of-function research, he said. This moratorium currently prevents researchers in the United States from conducting studies that involve mutating viruses in such a way that could make them more likely to transmit in humans.

However, the researchers would like to conduct a study in which they introduce the mutated avian influenza HA gene into a weakened laboratory strain of human influenza virus, and examine how this mutation affects transmission of the virus in laboratory animals. “For this, we would collaborate with a team at a biosafety level 3 facility,” Professor Paulson concluded.



 Standerton farm under quarantine after Avian Influenza outbreak [Ridge Times, 4 July 2017]

The Astral farm, that is affected, is just outside Villiers about 70km from Standerton, and the farm is under quarantine.

The outbreak of Avian Influenza in the area was widely reported on the past week.

According to Mr Gary Arnold, managing director: Agriculture at Astral, strict biosecurity protocols are in place and all measures are taken to prevent further farms from being infected.

The main spread is from wild birds.

Abnormal deaths in the wild bird population around the Villiers area came to the poultry producer’s attention.

The Astral farm, that is affected, is just outside Villiers about 70km from Standerton, and the farm is under quarantine.

Mr Arnold confirmed that another affected farm, 35km from Standerton near Greylingstad, is a commercial table egg operation and this independent farm is under quarantine.

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Avian flu: What you need to know

Here are 11 things you need to know about the first outbreak of type H5N8 avian influenza in South Africa.

・A highly pathogenic avian influenza, type H5N8 has been found on a farm on the Vaal river near Villiers in the Free State.

・The farm has been quarantined and about 28 000 birds are being culled.

・The Mpumalanga Veterinary Authority is assisting with the implementation of the quarantine as well as the culling and disinfecting.

・The outbreak is the first in South African poultry.

・It is possible that the disease has affected ducks and other wild water birds which makes containment difficult.

・The wild birds may have infected the poultry as the farm is situated on the banks of the Vaal river.

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・The strain of influenza does not pose a danger to humans, but appropriate precaution should be taken.

・The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has given its assurance that the outbreak will have a very limited impact on chicken supply.

・The strain of the virus is from Europe where it has been infecting poultry for more than a year.

・There is no known cure for the virus.

・The virus, that causes respiratory disease, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of commercial birds being culled in Zimbabwe in May which caused major problems for the poultry industry.



 H5N2 avian flu hits more Taiwanese poultry farms [CIDRAP, 4 July 2017]

Taiwan yesterday reported six more highly pathogenic H5N2 outbreaks, all of them involving commercial poultry farms, according to a notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

All of the events occurred at locations on the southwest side of the island: three in Yunlin County, two in Tainan City, and one in Pingtung County. The outbreaks began from Jun 22 tl Jun 27, affecting facilities housing ducks, turkeys, native chickens, and geese.

Of 53,085 susceptible birds, the virus killed 5,899, and authorities culled the surviving poultry to curb the spread of the virus.

Taiwan has been battling H5N2 and other avian flu strains since early 2015.


? SFDA imposes temporary ban on Belgian poultry products after avian flu outbreak [Arab News, 4 July 2017]

by Mohammed Rasooldeen

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RIYADH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) has imposed a temporary ban on the importing of chicken, eggs, and their bi-products from Belgium, following the spread of the H5N8 avian virus in some parts of the country.

The move follows an advisory from the World Health Organization (WHO). An SFDA official said the ban would continue until the threat of the virus was eradicated.

Belgium’s Ambassador Geert Criel told Arab News: “A number of cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza were recently identified in Belgium. Most of the reported cases relate to hobby holdings of captive birds, but two relate to poultry dealers. These dealers, however, do not supply poultry to the commercial sector. Most of the identified cases are linked. As required, Belgium reported these cases to the World Organization for Animal Health.”

He said the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) immediately started taking the necessary measures to control and prevent the spread of the disease, when the virus was identified.

Measures included the killing and destruction of birds held by dealers and private owners where the virus was suspected to be, the introduction of a 3 km safety zone where the movement of birds was restricted, and a larger 10 km surveillance zone.

There were also a number of countrywide preventative measures taken.

“The incidents, which mainly concern the hobby sector and do not supply the professional sector, appear to be limited. The number of suspected cases is decreasing sharply. No new cases have been detected in the past 10 days,” the ambassador added.


? France Confirms H5N8 Bird Flu Case Near Belgium Border [The Poultry Site, 3 July 2017]

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FRANCE - France's agriculture ministry confirmed on Friday a new case of bird flu on a poultry farm in the northern Brillon region, near the French-Belgian border.

"A case of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu was confirmed on 30 June on a poultry farm in Brillon," the ministry said in a statement.

The affected poultry was located 15 kilometers from a non-commercial farm in Tournai where 11 cases of avian flu have been detected in June, the ministry added.

"To rapidly stop the virus' spread, protection and surveillance zones are set up immediately... In these areas, movement of all susceptible animals is prohibited and bio-security measures are reinforced," the ministry said.

Earlier this year, France, the main producer of famous foie gras in the European Union, slaughtered 600,000 ducks in its southwest region of Les Landes to prevent avian influenza contamination.

Following a severe strain of H5N8 bird flu hitting several European countries in 2016, France has already imposed precautionary measures to prevent poultry contacts with wild birds and to restrict hunt in high risk areas.


? AVIAN INFLUENZA IN THE NORTH: DRASTIC MEASURES TO PREVENT THE SPREAD [The Siver Times, 2 July 2017]

The prefecture announced on Thursday evening having made the pre-emptive culling of poultry in the municipality of Brillon (North). An outbreak of avian influenza H5N8 identified in one particular, has led the authorities to eliminate the risk represented by the animals of his yard, but also his pigeons.

After you have found a high mortality among his hens, he had warned the authorities, as recommended in an information note distributed in the mailboxes of the inhabitants of Brillon.

Carole Leleu, the mayor of this town of the North, praised her initiative, recalling that he had made the right choice, the only way to halt the disease and its spread in the region. In all likelihood, the contamination would have the origin of the chick or of the pigeons bought at the market of Tournai, in belgium, on the belgian side of the border.

A region on alert

Concerns are growing in the North, on the side of the franco-belgian border. A home had already been identified on the side of our neighbours, leading to the supervision of the six municipalities of the city of lille on Monday : Comines, Halluin, Neuville-en-Ferrain, Roncq, Tourcoing and Wattrelos.

This Tuesday, a new home belgian had been identified, in a particular with poultry, in the border town of Hertain, near Tournai.

“Given the location of the border, the Northern department is putting in place a regulated area which includes the municipalities of Baisieux, Camphin-en-Pevele and Willems “, announced the prefecture. Poultry of the two belgian homes have been destroyed, she added.


? China report 6 additional human H7N9 ‘bird flu’ cases in past week [Outbreak NewsToday, 1 July 2017]

China-CIA_WFB_Map_2004 zzz.png
China /CIA

The National Health and Family Planning Commission of China reported six additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) during the week of June 23 to 29.

The three male and three female patients, aged from 4 to 72, had onset from June 11 to 23.

Four of them are from Yunnan and one each from Guizhou and Shanxi. Among them, five were known to have exposure to poultry or poultry markets.

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

Since 2013, 1,548 human H7N9 avian flu cases have been reported, including approximately 30 exported cases in 5 other countries. Half the cases have been reported since Oct. 2016.


? AVIAN INFLUENZA : A HOME QUICKLY DISPOSED OF BRILLON [The Siver Times, 1 July 2017]

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H. Michael Miley/Flickr

The prefecture announced on Thursday evening having made the pre-emptive culling of poultry in the municipality of Brillon (North). An outbreak of avian influenza H5N8 identified in one particular, has led the authorities to eliminate the risk represented by the animals of his yard, but also his pigeons.

After you have found a high mortality among his hens, he had warned the authorities, as recommended in an information note distributed in the mailboxes of the inhabitants of Brillon.

Carole Leleu, the mayor of this town of the North, praised her initiative, recalling that he had made the right choice, the only way to halt the disease and its spread in the region. In all likelihood, the contamination would have the origin of the chick or of the pigeons bought at the market of Tournai, in belgium, on the belgian side of the border.

A region on alert

Concerns are growing in the North, on the side of the franco-belgian border. A home had already been identified on the side of our neighbours, leading to the supervision of the six municipalities of the city of lille on Monday : Comines, Halluin, Neuville-en-Ferrain, Roncq, Tourcoing and Wattrelos.

This Tuesday, a new home belgian had been identified, in a particular with poultry, in the border town of Hertain, near Tournai.

“Given the location of the border, the Northern department is putting in place a regulated area which includes the municipalities of Baisieux, Camphin-en-Pevele and Willems “, announced the prefecture. Poultry of the two belgian homes have been destroyed, she added.


? France confirms case of H5N8 bird flu near Belgium border [Xinhua, 1 July 2017]

PARIS, June 30 (Xinhua) -- France's agriculture ministry confirmed on Friday a new case of bird flu on a poultry farm in the northern Brillon region, near French-Belgian border.

"A case of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu is confirmed on June 30 on a poultry farm in Brillon," the ministry said in a statement.

The affected poultry was located 15 kilometers from a non-commercial farm in Tournai where 11 cases of avian flu have been detected in June, the ministry added.

"To rapidly stop the virus' spread, protection and surveillance zones are set up immediately... In these areas, movement of all susceptible animals is prohibited and bio-security measures are reinforced," the ministry said.

Earlier this year, France, the main producer of famous foie gras in the European Union, slaughtered 600,000 ducks in its southwest region of Les Landes to prevent avian influenza contamination.

Following a severe strain of H5N8 bird flu hitting several European countries in 2016, France has already imposed precautionary measures to prevent poultry contacts with wild birds and to restrict hunt in high risk areas.

Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 17 till 30 June 2017


? Birds become immune to influenza [Phys.Org, 30 June 2017]

An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.

Water birds, in particular mallards, are often carriers of low-pathogenic influenza A virus.

Researchers previously believed that birds infected by one variant of the virus could not benefit from it by building up immunity against other virus subtypes. However, the recent study concludes that mallards infected with a low-pathogenic virus build up significant immunity and resistance to other variants of the same virus.

"It was previously thought that the birds were not particularly good at protecting themselves against subsequent infections, but in fact they manage quite well," says Neus Latorre-Margalef, a biologist at Lund University.

The study conducted by Latorre-Margalef, together with colleagues from the University of Georgia in the US, shows that, after an infection, mallards become partially immune and resistant to influenza infections to which they are later exposed. How high their resistance is depends partly on which viruses are involved, and on how genetically similar they are.

"For future infections, the birds' previous infections are important. Birds which have had influenza could be partially protected against virulent variants such as H5N1 or H5N8," says Neus Latorre-Margalef.

The H5N1 and H5N8 strains are highly pathogenic and those most often associated with avian flu. Just over ten years ago, H5N1 spread around the world from chicken flocks in Southeast Asia. Both domestic poultry flocks and wild bird populations were gravely affected. Humans also became ill, in some cases fatally.

It is unclear why there are more subtypes of influenza among birds than among humans and other mammals. One explanation could be what Neus Latorre-Margalef and her colleagues show in their study: that various viruses compete with one another as birds build up immunity and the duration of infection becomes shorter. The virus then gets a chance to mutate and change.

"We need to understand more about how various viruses and subtypes of the same virus interact, for example when one individual gets infected several times. More knowledge is required for developing more effective vaccines," says Neus Latorre-Margalef.


? South Africa: Minister Senzeni Zokwana - Media Briefing On Avian Influenza Outbreak in South Africa [AllAfrica.com, 30 June 2017]

Media Briefing by Minister Senzeni Zokwana Avian Influenza Outbreak in South Africa

Good morning

The Department alerted poultry owners about the eminent threat of Avian Influenza when
Zimbabwe reported their first case at the end of May. The disease, which at that time had been reported in 14 countries, 2 of which were in Africa, had been confirmed in Zimbabwe making it the third country in Africa to be affected.

Avian Influenza is an influenza virus, and is classified as either highly pathogenic or low pathogenic by the World Organisation for Animal Health. The type that has been reported is the highly pathogenic one and is extremely contagious.

The Department, in its alert notification, called for all chicken keepers to observe basic biosecurity measures in order to prevent contact with wild birds. This can be achieved in commercial farms by improving biosecurity and in free range farms by simply removing feed and water from where it attracts wild birds.

Despite the warnings, the disease still managed to get into our flocks. Two cases, one in a broiler breeder farm in Villiers and another in an egg laying farm in Standerton, were reported since 22nd of June. Both these farms are in the Mpumalanga province. There seems to have been confusion with the location of one farm which is near Villiers, as its closest town. I confirm that this farm is on the Mpumalanga side of the provincial boundary. No cases have been reported so far in the Free State, or in any other province.

Our team of veterinarians has swiftly responded to this threat. We have placed the affected farms under quarantine and the affected birds have been euthanised and the eggs destroyed.

Approximately two hundred and sixty thousand (260 000) birds have been culled.

Section 19 of the Animal Diseases Act, gives the Director Animal Health the legal mandate to compensate for any animals or birds killed by the state pursuant to any disease control measure. The Director of Animal Health will consider each case on its own merit.

There have been several calls to permit vaccination against the disease; I have been advised by my team of experts that this will not be in the best interest of both the country and the producers. Vaccination of birds will create an endemic situation, affect surveillance efforts and affect our export certification because all our trade partners only want products from a country that is free of avian influenza where vaccination is not practised.

In order to contain the disease, our team called for the ban on the sale of live chickens to manage the further spread. This triggered a nation-wide concern since a number of livelihoods had been affected. However this measure was imposed in the interest of the country and the poultry producers at large, and I can assure you that it was not taken lightly.

My team has since met with the Poultry Producers and have devised a solution that will provide the desired disease management outcomes and improve traceability, while ensuring that micro businesses continue with their operations. The buyers or sellers of more than 5 live chickens for any purpose other than direct slaughter at a registered abattoir will be subjected to the following conditions:

1. The sellers of live chickens, including commercial farmers, as well as the traders who buy and resell these chickens must register with the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA). The Director Animal Health, of the DAFF has authorised the PDMA to register and keep records of all parties selling and buying live chickens. The PDMA is an independent organization and all information about the trade of live chickens will be kept strictly confidential.

2. Only registered sellers and buyers are allowed to trade and it is the responsibility of both the seller and the buyer to ensure that their counterpart is registered.

3. Farmers may only sell live chickens certified as healthy by a veterinarian or Animal Health Technician.

4. Traders may only sell healthy chickens and must keep records as prescribed.

5. Sellers and buyers registering with the PDMA would have to sign an undertaking to adhere to the required control measures.

These conditions apply to sellers of live broiler chickens, live spent layer hens, live spent breeder birds, point of lay pullets and any chickens that may fall into these categories. The conditions also apply to any buyers and traders who buy more than 5 live chickens that fall into the above categories.

All stakeholders are implored to comply with the registration and other requirements that are designed to allow the trade of live chickens to continue without compromising animal health.

Depending on the level of compliance that is achieved with these conditions, the Director

Animal Health will review future requirements for blanket bans.

Registration forms for sellers and buyers are available on the DAFF (www.daff.gov.za) and
PDMA (www.poultrydiseases.co.za) websites and further information can also be obtained from the PDMA (at 012 529 8298).

We request utmost cooperation of all affected parties in order to prevent further spread of the current outbreak and enhance the disease management efforts.

The Department wishes to reiterate that the type of virus we are dealing with, does not affect people, as has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The meat that is on the shelves is safe to eat as it has gone through a process of meat inspection and certified fit for human consumption.

A number of trade partners, have suspended trade of raw meat, eggs and live birds from South Africa. This is mainly because the South African veterinarians have to certify that the country is free of Avian Influenza, and since the 22nd June, they could not provide this certification.

However, processed meat is considered safe for trade, and some countries still accept this.

South Africa introduced the concept of compartments in line with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines; raw meat, eggs and live birds originating from these compartments have been accepted by most trade partners. Our team is already in negotiations with these trade partners to accept our products from these registered compartments.

Chicken owners, farmers and the public should remain vigilant and all cases of high mortalities in chickens and other birds should be reported to the nearest State Veterinarian.

I wish to thank the Poultry Producers for their cooperation and consistent engagement with the Department. I also wish to thank my team for the swift response and their dedication.

Ke a leboha.


? Avian-flu: Government imposes conditions on live chicken trade [Times Live, 29 June 2017]

BY SIPHO MABENA

BY SIPHO MABENA.jpg
Chickens being sold on the streets of Johannesburg.
Image: Kgaugelo Masweneng

Government has introduced a raft of conditions on the trading of live chickens in an effort to contain an outbreak of avian influenza after an outbreak on two farms in Mpumalanga? where eggs were destroyed and about 260 000 chickens culled last week.

Agriculture? forestry and fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Thursday that no cases had been reported so far in other provinces? saying a team of veterinarians had swiftly responded to the threat and the farms were quarantined.

Zokwana said as a precautionary measure? buyers or sellers of more than five live chickens for any purpose other than slaughter at a registered abattoir would be subjected to the following conditions:

? Live chicken sellers? including commercial farmers? and traders must register with the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA).

? Only registered traders are allowed to trade. It is the responsibility of the seller and buyer to ensure that their counterpart is registered.

? Farmers may only sell live chickens certified as healthy by a veterinarian or animal health technician.

? Traders may only sell healthy chickens and must keep records as prescribed.

? Sellers and buyers registering with PDMA would have to sign an undertaking to adhere to the required control measures.

Zokwana said these conditions applied to sellers of live broiler chickens? live spent layer hens? live spent breeder birds? point of lay pullets and any chickens that may fall into these categories.

The minister said there had been calls for vaccinations but he had been advised this would not be in the best interest of the country and producers.

He said vaccination would create an endemic situation? affect surveillance efforts and affect export certification as all of the country’s trade partners wanted products from countries where vaccination was not practised.

“In order to contain the disease? our team called for the ban on the sale of live chickens to manage the further spread. This triggered nationwide concern since a number of livelihoods had been affected. However? this measure was imposed in the interest of the country and the poultry producers at large and I can assure you that it was not taken lightly?” the minister said.

Zokwana called for the cooperation of all affected parties in order to prevent any further spread of the current outbreak and enhance disease management.

He said a number of countries had suspended trade of raw meat? eggs and live birds from South Africa.

The minister said this was mainly because South African veterinarians have to certify that the country was free of avian influenza? and since June 22? they could not provide this certification.


? South Africa: Avian Influenza Confirmed in Mpumalanga [allAfrica.com, 28 June 2017]

Pretoria ? The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has confirmed a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in a broiler breeder site in Mpumalanga.

The department said the affected farm has been quarantined and culling of the affected animals
has been completed.

"The department is conducting forward and backward tracing to trace movement of all poultry in and out of the farm in order to establish the source of the influenza," the department said in a statement.

The department has also established a 30km control zone in Mpumalanga and Free State.

"The two provinces are conducting surveillance in the 30km control zone for other potentially affected properties. All provinces have been notified and are on high alert," the department said.

The following control measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of the disease:
A complete standstill of movement of poultry and poultry products on the infected farm(s).

Nothing is to enter or leave the farm.

Birds at the infected sites will be euthanized humanely.

State Vets are conducting inspections starting with all the farms within a 3km and a further 27 km (30km) radius around the affected farm to gather information on the health status of the birds.

Poultry and poultry products may only move from these farms with a State Veterinary Permit.

"We have placed a general ban on the sale of live spent hens across the country until further notice.

"Our trading partners were formally notified of the outbreak in Mpumalanga. Trading partners require a declaration of country freedom of highly pathogenic avian influenza for trade in fresh poultry meat and unprocessed poultry products, which we are currently unable to provide due to the confirmation of HPAI on the Mpumalanga farm," the department said.

The department added that exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh products from registered poultry compartments will continue, depending on the requirements of the importing countries.

To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported, however the department warned people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry to wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants.

"Meat from healthy poultry is safe for consumption as it is subjected to strict meat inspection processes at abattoirs. We urge people to avoid consumption of birds found dead, dying or sick. No effective treatment for the disease has been found.

"Infected animals must be humanely destroyed and disposed of properly to prevent the disease from spreading. If you suspect your flock has contracted the disease, quarantine the affected birds and area immediately. Notify your nearest State Veterinarian of any suspected cases," the department advised.

HPAI is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and is highly contagious.

It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water.


? Bats have potential to host avian and human influenza viruses, study shows [Penn State News, 28 June 2017]

Suresh Kuchipudi in lab.jpg


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. ? Bats, which make up about a third of all mammalian species, play an important role in our ecosystem. They eat bugs that "bug" us, pollinate more than 500 species of plants, including banana and cacao, and distribute the seeds of many other plants.

However, they also can carry diseases that are dangerous to humans, such as rabies.

But they were never thought to host influenza viruses, until researchers studying pathogen diversity in bats in South and Central America identified two new influenza viruses in fruit bats.

Subsequently, researchers in Africa found 30 percent of the bats they tested were infected with a flu virus, although these bats did not show any signs of illness.

These discoveries led Suresh Kuchipudi, associate professor of virology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, to ask: Can bats be co-infected with avian and human influenza viruses? If so, can they act as carriers of influenza virus? Do they have the potential to contribute to the emergence of new pandemic influenza strains by mixing these two types of influenza viruses?

To answer these questions, Kuchipudi brought together a multidisciplinary team to conduct research focusing on little brown bats, the most widely spread bat species in North America.

"Although bats are elusive creatures, there is increasing interface between them and humans as a result of wildlife trade, bush-meat hunting, deforestation and urban development," said
Kuchipudi, who works in the college's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. "It's important to determine if bats can allow infection of avian and human flu viruses, and if they could then serve as 'mixing vessels' and perhaps create the next pandemic flu virus. Up until now, no one has ever studied influenza virus receptors in bats."

Influenza infects a wide range of domestic and wild animals. Some are highly specific to one kind of host, but others can be passed between species. "Swine flu" and "avian flu" are examples of previous pandemics in humans caused by influenza viruses that came from animals. Avian flu viruses continue to cause huge economic losses to the poultry industry and can threaten public health if they gain the ability to cross over into humans. Co-existence with another kind of flu virus in some other species, such as a bat, could provide them the genetic material they need to jump species.

"The remarkable thing about influenza viruses is the ability to constantly change and evolve," Kuchipudi said. "Influenza virus evolution involves mutations in the virus to gain the ability to transmit to a completely different host species."

With assistance from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Kuchipudi's research team screened 20 little brown bats ? 10 juvenile and 10 adult ? for the presence of influenza receptors using cutting-edge scientific methods involving lectin histochemistry, along with confocal and electron microscopy.

The team tested for the presence of two specific receptors that are responsible for helping human and avian influenza viruses attach to cells. They further investigated whether avian and human flu viruses can bind to bat tissues.

"The study discovered that bats have the receptors in their respiratory and digestive tracts that are able to support binding of avian and human influenza viruses," said Ruth Nissly, research technician and manager of Kuchipudi's research lab. "Having both receptors, as in the case of ducks and pigs, is believed to create conditions that enable the virus to mutate and create a new strain, which, in turn, could infect other animals, including humans."

Despite these findings, Kuchipudi said there is not yet a need to worry about a "bat flu.”

"While the sum of the evidence suggests that bats could play an important role in influenza epidemiology and zoonotic influenza emergence, we do not have sufficient scientific understanding to adequately predict which influenza strains may cause the next pandemic or what hosts they may come from," he said.

He cited the need for more research on how influenza may manifest itself in bats, as well as for additional surveillance of wild bats.

Other Penn State researchers on the project were Shubhada Chothe, doctoral candidate in pathobiology, who carried out many of the experiments; Gitanjali Bhushan, undergraduate student in immunology and infectious disease; Yin-Ting Yeh, postdoctoral scholar in physics; Jenny Fisher, clinical assistant professor in veterinary and biomedical sciences; Mauricio Terrones, professor of physics, chemistry and materials science and engineering; and Bhushan M. Jayarao, professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences.

The team also included Justin Brown, wildlife veterinarian with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and adjunct associate professor in veterinary and biomedical sciences; Gregory Turner, wildlife biologist, Pennsylvania Game Commission; Brent Sewall, assistant professor of biology, Temple University; and DeeAnn Reeder, presidential professor of biology, Bucknell University.

The research, funded by Penn State's Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department, Eberly College of Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was published in April 2017 in Scientific Reports, an online, open access journal from the publishers of Nature.


? Opinion: Proactive approach stems spread of avian flu [Berks Country, 28 June 2017]

by Christian Herr

AR-306289979.jpg&exactW=700&Q=80&exactFit=crop&RCRadius=20.jpg
Courtesy of PennAg Industries Association | Christian Herr, executive vice president of PennAg Industries Association.

Two years ago, Pennsylvania farmers were just beginning to understand the extent of the devastation of America's worst animal disease outbreak, high pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI. In winter and early spring of 2015, the Midwest was infected with HPAI. By June 2015, more than 49.5 million chickens and turkeys were dead. Nearly 2,000 veterinarians, state and federal regulators, and special contactors were dispatched to help with the control and cleanup.

The outbreak cost taxpayers, farmers, businesses and consumers more than $3.3 billion.

During this troubling time for American agriculture, farmers in Pennsylvania were witnessing an unprecedented response from our Legislature, state Department of Agriculture, and partners at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, or Penn Vet, and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

Our state Legislature invested more money on prevention and preparation than the rest of the states combined. An emergency authorization in case of an outbreak also was approved for the Department of Agriculture, totaling about $27 million. Because of the implementation of an aggressive plan led by Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and supported by veterinarians and animal health professionals at Penn Vet and Penn State, only a fraction of the legislative appropriation needed to be spent.

This proactive approach was a clear sign that no one wanted to relive the sins of our past. In April 1983, Pennsylvania had its first devastating experience with avian influenza. By the time the disease was finally brought under control, 17 million birds died and $60 million was spent on the cleanup. We learned from that outbreak and successfully defended Pennsylvania against subsequent flare-ups of avian influenza that have devastated other states.

Pennsylvania remains one of the largest and most diverse poultry states in America. Because of that diversity we are one of the most vulnerable to a new outbreak of avian influenza. We have avoided the outbreaks for two reasons: planning and resources.

Pennsylvania's General Assembly always has understood the value of investing in a great animal health system. Its support for the Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Commission, Penn State University and Penn Vet has kept poultry healthy to feed our citizens, and has saved taxpayers and consumers billions.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the value of the commonwealth's appropriation to Penn Vet as lawmakers continue to deal with difficult budgetary challenges.

Each year Penn Vet receives about $30 million in state support, and for good reason. Penn Vet is our veterinary school. There is no other in Pennsylvania.

What does Pennsylvania get in exchange for this investment?

A veterinary school that is considered one of the best in the world.

If we have an outbreak of avian influenza in our chickens, or the pseudo-rabies virus in our hogs, we rely on veterinarians and staff at the Penn Vet diagnostic laboratories to guide our response.

When our horses are infected with life-threatening equine herpes virus, the best hope in the world of saving them is Penn Vet. When our cows are having difficulty birthing a new calf or are suffering from an endemic disease like mastitis, it's a veterinarian likely trained at Penn Vet whom we call.

And as every Pennsylvanian who loves their pet knows, when our family cat or dog is diagnosed with cancer or heart disease, we know the best care in the world can be found at Penn Vet.

Not only does state funding support animal health initiatives, but it enables Penn Vet to provide scholarships for students who commit to practicing in some of the most rural areas of our commonwealth. In fact, some counties have just two or even fewer veterinarians. More often than not, those veterinarians are Penn Vet graduates.

We certainly understand fiscal challenges, but we must remain vigilant. Over the past several weeks, avian influenza has been detected in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. Needless to say, many farmers and agribusinesses are nervous.

Farmers and animal owners agree: We believe that protecting animal health is a core function of our government. Our commonwealth has been a national leader in that regard, thanks to the efforts of our legislators. Pennsylvania's budgetary support of Penn Vet is one of the best returns on investment in our state budget. Maintaining this investment helps keep poultry, livestock - and humans - healthy.


? Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus ? China [World Health Organization, 28 June 2017]

On 2 June 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of nine additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China. On 9 June 2017, the NHFPC notified WHO of 12 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in mainland China.
Details of the case patients

On 2 June 2017, the NHFPC reported a total of nine human cases of infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Onset dates ranged from 12 to 29 May 2017. Of these nine case patients, three were female. The median age was 56 years (range 35 to 67 years). The case patients were reported from Anhui (1), Beijing (1), Guangxi (1), Hebei (1), Hubei (1), Shaanxi (1), Shandong (2), and Sichuan (1).

At the time of notification, there was one death. Seven case patients were diagnosed as having either pneumonia (4) or severe pneumonia (3). Eight case patients were reported to have had exposure to poultry or live poultry market, and one case patient had no known poultry exposure.

No case clustering was reported.

On 9 June 2017, the NHFPC notified WHO of 12 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in mainland China. Onset dates ranged from 20 May to 3 June 2017. Of these 12 cases, four were female. The median age was 40.5 years (range 4 to 68 years). The cases were reported from Anhui (2), Beijing (3), Chongqing (2), Henan (2), Jiangsu (1), Shaanxi (1), and Shandong (1).

At the time of notification, there were no deaths. Ten cases were diagnosed as having either pneumonia (4) or severe pneumonia (6). Nine cases were reported to have had exposure to poultry or live poultry market, two case patients had no known poultry exposure, and one is under investigation.

One cluster was reported, from Shaanxi province, involving a 68-year-old male, with symptom onset on 23 May 2017, and his wife (a 67-year-old with symptom onset on 26 May 2017 and who was included in the cases discussed above which were reported to WHO on 2 June). Both had histories of exposure in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to chickens purchased from a market that they raised in their backyard. Some of the chickens died shortly after purchase and the couple both slaughtered some of the other chickens. This is the first time Inner Mongolia
Autonomous Region was reported as the location of likely exposure to the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Avian influenza A(H7N9) virus was detected recently for the first time in this region in samples from live bird markets.

To date, a total of 1533 laboratory-confirmed human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported through IHR notification since early 2013.

Public health response

The Chinese governments at national and local levels are taking further measures which include:

・Continuing to guide the provinces to strengthen assessment, and prevention and control measures.

・Continuing to strengthen control measures focusing on hygienic management of live poultry markets and cross-regional transportation.

・Conducting detailed source investigations to inform effective prevention and control measures.

・Continuing to detect and treat human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) early to reduce mortality.

・Continuing to carry out risk communication and issue information notices to provide the public with guidance on self-protection.

・Strengthening virology surveillance to better understand levels of virus contamination in the environment as well as mutations, in order to provide further guidance for prevention and control.

WHO risk assessment

The number of human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) and the geographical distribution in the fifth epidemic wave (i.e. onset since 1 October 2016) is greater than earlier waves. This suggests that the virus is spreading, and emphasizes that further intensive surveillance and control measures in both human and animal health sector are crucial.

According to the epidemiological curve, the number of reported cases on a weekly basis seems to have peaked in early February and is slowly decreasing. The peak in cases this year corresponds to the timing of the peak in cases in previous years. Most human cases are exposed to avian influenza A(H7N9) virus through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets. Since the virus continues to be detected in animals and environments, and live poultry vending continues, further human cases can be expected.

Although small clusters of cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported including those involving patients in the same ward, current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that this virus has not acquired the ability of sustained transmission among humans. Therefore the likelihood of further community level spread is considered low.

Close analysis of the epidemiological situation and further characterization of the most recent viruses are critical to assess associated risk and to adjust risk management measures in a timely manner.

WHO advice

WHO advises that travellers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should avoid, if possible, poultry farms, contact with animals in live poultry markets, entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals. Travellers should also wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions. As always, a diagnosis of infection with an avian influenza virus should be considered in individuals who develop severe acute respiratory symptoms while travelling in or soon after returning from an area where avian influenza is a concern.

WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance, including surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns, ensure reporting of human infections under the IHR 2005, and continue national health preparedness actions.


? Tainan culls 1,787 turkeys amid avian flu threat [Focus Taiwan News Channel (press release), 27 June 2017]

Taipei, June 27 (CNA) A poultry farm in Tainan's Xiaying District was confirmed on Tuesday to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus, leading to the culling of 1,787 turkeys, according to the city's Animal Health Inspection and Protection Office.

With the heavy rain earlier this month, the virus keeps re-emerging and continues to pose a serious threat to animal health.

The farm reported an abnormal die off of turkeys to the authorities, the Tainan office said, and samples taken from the farm were then analyzed and tested positive for H5N2 avian flu.

Nearby areas around the farm have been disinfected to prevent further spread of the disease, the office said.

(By Yang Sz-ruei and Evelyn Kao)


? Massive cull planned as new case of bird flu reported [eNCA, 27 June 2017]

? Avian flu: What you need to know [Lowae Velder, 27 June 2017]

birdflu.file_-800x510.jpg


Here are 11 things you need to know about the first outbreak of type H5N8 avian influenza in South Africa.

・A highly pathogenic avian influenza, type H5N8 has been found on a farm on the Vaal river near Villiers in the Free State.

・The farm has been quarantined and about 28 000 birds are being culled.

・The Mpumalanga Veterinary Authority is assisting with the implementation of the quarantine as well as the culling and disinfecting.

・The outbreak is the first in South African poultry.

・It is possible that the disease has affected ducks and other wild water birds which makes containment difficult.

・The wild birds may have infected the poultry as the farm is situated on the banks of the Vaal river.

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・The strain of influenza does not pose a danger to humans, but appropriate precaution should be taken.

・The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has given its assurance that the outbreak will have a very limited impact on chicken supply.

・The strain of the virus is from Europe where it has been infecting poultry for more than a year.

・There is no known cure for the virus.

・The virus, that causes respiratory disease, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of commercial birds being culled in Zimbabwe in May which caused major problems for the poultry industry.

・check-also this is for the recommended post slider


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JOHANNESBURG 26 June 2017 - eNCA anchor Vuyo Mvoko speaks to Department of Agriculture official Mpho Maja about the infection in chickens in some parts of the country.? Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG ? A second case of avian influenza was reported on a layer farm in Val, Standerton, in Mpumalanga, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Monday.

“The virus is the same strain as the initial case reported, but the two farms are not directly linked, meaning this is a separate introduction.

"The farm has been placed under quarantine. More than 25,000 of the infected birds will be culled. Eggs are not allowed to move out of the farm,” spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said in a statement.

The sale of hens and roosters has been banned across the country.

“The ban of live hens (including roosters) is still in place, to enable the department to assess the extent of the outbreak. We will observe this ban for a period of 14 days and will reassess the situation. It takes approximately four days for the infected bird to show clinical signs of the disease. We have put this measure in place to prevent further unintended spread of the Influenza,” the department said

Molapo said that the department was pleading with commercial and backyard farmers to report any cases of large numbers of birds dying to the nearest state vets so the department can send veterinary officials to investigate and collect of samples for confirmation.

But the government said people do not need to worry about contracting the disease.

African News Agency


? Zim bans poultry imports [Southern Times Africa, 27 June 2017]

by Runyararo Muzavazi, Herald Reporter

Harare-Zimbabwe has banned poultry and poultry products from South Africa following an outbreak of Avian Influenza in Mpumalanga and Free State provinces. Department of veterinary services director Dr Josphat Nyika yesterday confirmed the ban. “The products include hatching eggs, table eggs, frozen chicken and mechanically de-boned meat,” said Dr Nyika. “The ban remains in force for an indefinite period of time up to when the South African veterinary officials would have indicated that the problem has been resolved.”

Government is in the process of mounting a risk-based survey of the wild bird population to establish possible primary source of the Avian Influenza, with an external international specialist support team expected in the country this week.

Either there are no banners, they are disabled or none qualified for this location!

Zimbabwe was hit by an Avian Influenza outbreak earlier this month which left Irvine’s Private Limited’s white meat and egg sub sector under quarantine.

The highly pathogenic virus killed 7 000 chickens, but the company had to de-populate by slaughtering 142 000 birds to prevent the spread of the disease.
Influenza viruses are highly contagious and spread very quickly in susceptible populations.

The viruses naturally occur in wild water birds, but they change dynamically and highly virulent strains can occur from time to time, causing major human and animal illness and death.

Symptoms of Avian Influenza include quick illness and sudden deaths of the chickens. (source:The Herald)


? Avian flu: Zimbabwe bans poultry products from SA [News24, 27 June 2017]

Harare ? Zimbabwe has reportedly banned all poultry products from South Africa following an outbreak of avian flu in Mpumalanga and Free State provinces.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the department of veterinary services director, Dr Josphat Nyika, said the banned products included hatching eggs, table eggs, frozen chicken and mechanically de-boned meat.

"The ban remains in force for an indefinite period of time up to when the South African veterinary official would have indicated that the problem has been resolved," Nyika was quoted as saying.

Avian flu was confirmed in Mpumalanga over the weekend, with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announcing the ban on the sale of live hens.

''We have placed a general ban on the sale of live hens across the country until further notice,'' department spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said.

Separate introduction

This was after a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 was confirmed in a broiler breeder site in Mpumalanga on Thursday June 22.

'HPAI is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and it is highly contagious. It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water,'' the department explained.

A second case was confirmed at a farm in Standerton on Monday.

"The virus is the same strain as the initial case reported, but the two farms are not directly linked, meaning this is a separate introduction," said department spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo.

The farm had been placed under quarantine and over 25 000 infected birds would be culled.
Eggs were not allowed to move off the farm.


? South Africa bans sale of live hens to contain bird flu [Reuters, 26 June 2017]

South Africa has banned the sale of live hens throughout the country in a bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu, but no humans have been affected, the government said on Monday.

Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh produce will continue depending on the requirements of importing countries, the department of agriculture said in a statement.

"To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported. However, people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry must wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants," the department said.

The government said meat from healthy poultry was safe to eat due to strict inspections at abattoirs, though people were urged to avoid eating any birds found dead, dying or sick.

South Africa reported an outbreak this month of H5N8 bird flu on a commercial broiler breeder farm in Mpumalanga province, where about 5,000 birds died and the rest were culled.

The H5N8 strain has been detected in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia over the past two years, its spread aided by wild bird migrations. Highly pathogenic among fowl, the risk of human infection is low.

South Africa suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from neighboring Zimbabwe earlier this month after it reported an outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu at a poultry farm.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; editing by Louise Heavens and David Clarke)


? New case of avian flu confirmed in Mpumalanga [Citizen, 26 June 2017]

The department has urged commercial and backyard farmers to report any cases of large numbers of birds dying to the nearest state vets.

A second case of Avian Influenza was reported in a layer farm in Val, Standerton in Mpumalanga, the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries said on Monday.

“The Virus is the same strain as the initial case reported, but the two farms are not directly linked, meaning this is a separate introduction. The farm has been placed under quarantine over 25,000 of the infected birds will be culled. Eggs are not allowed to move out of the farm,” spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said in a statement.

“The Ban of live hens (including roosters) is still in place, to enable the department to assess the extent of the outbreak. We will observe this ban for a period of 14 days and will reassess the situation. It takes approximately four days for the infected bird to show clinical signs of the disease. We have put this measure in place to prevent further unintended spread of the Influenza.”

Molapo said that the department was pleading with commercial and backyard farmers to report any cases of large numbers of birds dying to the nearest state vets so the department can send veterinary officials for follow up investigations and collection of samples for confirmation.


? South Africa: 25,000 birds killed in H5N8 avian influenza outbreak on Mpumalanga farm [Outbreak News Today, 26 June 2017]

by ROBERT HERRIMAN

Officials with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Animal Production and Health in Pretoria reported an outbreak of Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) H5N8 on a farm in Dipaleseng, Mpumalanga Province to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) today.

According to the report, 25,000 birds died out of 243,000 susceptible birds.
The following measures have been applied: quarantine, disposal of carcasses and destruction of animal products.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries (DAFF) is providing veterinary support including diagnostics, surveillance and control measures. Farmers who suspect infection in their poultry should notify the local State Vet office or Extension officer who will visit the farm, investigate the incident and collect samples from the birds to rule out the disease.

The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says although the risk of transmission of influenza A(H5N8) to humans is extremely low, personal protective equipment including gloves, disposable aprons/clothing and masks capable of preventing inhalation of aerosolized virus particles, should be used by all persons in contact with live or dead infected poultry.

Handwashing with disinfectant soap after contact with birds is essential. Any persons with known or suspected close contact with dead or ill birds that have confirmed A(H5N8) infection and who present with upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms (cough, runny nose, scratchy throat, or pneumonia) and/or conjunctivitis should be investigated.

Clusters of three or more cases of severe respiratory illness (hospitalization or death) which are epidemiologically linked should also be investigated even if there is no documented bird exposure.


? New case of avian flu confirmed on Standerton farm [News24, 26 June 2017]

by Jenna Etheridge,

d52aa951c2f64cd9b6aa94eaba4a928c.jpg


Cape Town ? A second case of avian flu has been confirmed at a farm in Standerton, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Monday.

"The virus is the same strain as the initial case reported, but the two farms are not directly linked, meaning this is a separate introduction," said department spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo.

The farm had been placed under quarantine and over 25 000 infected birds would be culled.

Eggs were not allowed to move off the farm.

Molapo said the ban of live hens (including roosters) was still in place to allow the department to assess the extent of the outbreak.

The ban would be observed for 14 days. The situation would then be reassessed.

"It takes approximately four days for the infected bird to show clinical signs of the disease. We have put this measure in place to prevent further unintended spread of the influenza."

HPAI is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and is highly contagious.

It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water, the department explained.

Commercial and backyard farmers were urged to report large numbers of birds dying to the nearest state vet.

This would allow the department to send veterinary officials for a follow-up investigation and to collect samples.


? South Africa: Avian Influenza Confirmed in Mpumalanga [AllAfrica.com, 26 June 2017]

Pretoria ? The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has confirmed a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in a broiler breeder site in Mpumalanga.

The department said the affected farm has been quarantined and culling of the affected animals has been completed.

"The department is conducting forward and backward tracing to trace movement of all poultry in and out of the farm in order to establish the source of the influenza," the department said in a statement.

The department has also established a 30km control zone in Mpumalanga and Free State.

"The two provinces are conducting surveillance in the 30km control zone for other potentially affected properties. All provinces have been notified and are on high alert," the department said.

The following control measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of the disease:
A complete standstill of movement of poultry and poultry products on the infected farm(s).

Nothing is to enter or leave the farm.

Birds at the infected sites will be euthanized humanely.

State Vets are conducting inspections starting with all the farms within a 3km and a further 27 km (30km) radius around the affected farm to gather information on the health status of the birds.

Poultry and poultry products may only move from these farms with a State Veterinary Permit.

"We have placed a general ban on the sale of live spent hens across the country until further notice.

"Our trading partners were formally notified of the outbreak in Mpumalanga. Trading partners require a declaration of country freedom of highly pathogenic avian influenza for trade in fresh poultry meat and unprocessed poultry products, which we are currently unable to provide due to the confirmation of HPAI on the Mpumalanga farm," the department said.

The department added that exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh products from registered poultry compartments will continue, depending on the requirements of the importing countries.

To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported, however the department warned people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry to wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants.

"Meat from healthy poultry is safe for consumption as it is subjected to strict meat inspection processes at abattoirs. We urge people to avoid consumption of birds found dead, dying or sick.

No effective treatment for the disease has been found.

"Infected animals must be humanely destroyed and disposed of properly to prevent the disease from spreading. If you suspect your flock has contracted the disease, quarantine the affected birds and area immediately. Notify your nearest State Veterinarian of any suspected cases," the department advised.

HPAI is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and is highly contagious.

It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water.


? SA REPORTS OUTBREAK OF H5N8 BIRD FLU IN MPUMALANGA: OIE [Eyewitness News, 26 June 2017]

Some 5,000 birds died of the highly contagious disease and the remainder at the 24,000-birds farm was in the process of being culled.

tyxemojgzs6d1ypma3fg bbb.jpg
Picture: freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu on a commercial broiler breeder farm in Mpumalanga province, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday, citing a report from the South African farm ministry.

Some 5,000 birds died of the highly contagious disease and the remainder at the 24,000-birds farm was in the process of being culled, the ministry said.

South Africa earlier this month suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from neighboring Zimbabwe after it reported an outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu at a commercial poultry farm.


? South Africa imposes countrywide ban of sale of live hens to contain avian flu [Nasdaq, 26 June 2017]

CAPE TOWN, June 26 (Reuters) - South Africa has placed a
general ban on the sale of live hens throughout the country in a
bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu,
but no humans have been affected, the government said on Monday.

Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and
fresh produce continues depending on the requirements of
importing countries, the department of agriculture said in a
statement.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard)


? Migrating ducks spreading bird flu in SA [Citizen, 26 June 2017]

by Yadhana Jadoo

iStock-519362654.jpg
Picture: iStock

SA has suspended trade in birds and table egg products from Zimbabwe since the outbreak.

Another high-level meeting is taking place tomorrow to assess the risk of bird flu in South Africa after it recently hit Zimbabwe.

It is now almost certain that wild ducks are spreading the disease and are already in the country.

This has been established by research into the outbreak to find the origin of the pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian flu.

The investigations are part of South Africa’s emergency response to mitigate the risk of the virus affecting suppliers.

“We are fairly certain there must be infected birds between the Vaal River and Zimbabwe,” South African Poultry Association (Sapa) CEO Kevin Lovell said.

“We are sure it’s from wild ducks, but we are just not sure which ducks.”

It was established that H5N8 bird flu is the same strain found in parts of Europe. This meant the ducks had migrated from Europe to the Western Cape, where they turn around and go back, Lovell said.

“So there must be infected birds between Zimbabwe and the area of South Africa. They would have flown without stopping between central Zimbabwe to central South Africa.”

Bird faeces was already being sampled, he said, adding that although the disease was being spread by wild birds, it did not necessarily mean they would infect chickens. The task team established to deal with the situation would also update South Africa’s emergency response plan in line with what was working and what not, Lovell said.

“The outbreak is in broiler breeders and they lay the eggs. There is no vertical transmission and no likelihood that any broiler chickens will have the virus.”

And if chickens were infected, the birds would die before reaching the abattoir, he added. The virus does not cause human health concerns. This has been stated by the World Health Organisation on the basis of research.

“So it is not a health problem but a production problem.”

SA suppliers had not seen a slump in sales, Lovell said. He asked the public to report any dead birds they saw to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries department or Sapa, adding: “We need extra eyes and ears on the ground.”

South Africa has suspended trade in birds and table egg products from Zimbabwe since the outbreak. Zimbabwe’s leading egg and poultry producer, Irvine’s, was the supplier most affected, with 7 000 birds killed by the virus.


? Fears UK could face bird flu outbreak even WORSE than 2009 swine flu pandemic [The Sun, 25 June 2017]

By Ellie Cambridge

The virus is two mutations away from widespread human-to-human transmission, scientists have said

nintchdbpict000285589590.jpg
A Public Health England spokesman said research into a vaccine is being carried out in the US and the World Health Organisation

EXPERTS fear a bird flu epidemic to rival the 2009 swine flu outbreak could be on the way to the UK.

The virus is two mutations away from widespread human-to-human transmission, scientists have said.

nintchdbpict000281936716 xxxx.jpg
The bird flu virus has only been caught by humans from birds, or close family members who became infected

The bird flu virus has only been caught by humans from birds, or close family members who became infected.

A stark warning in New Scientist said: “If the virus evolves the ability to spread between humans easily, it will go pandemic and circle the world in weeks.”

It this happens, experts reportedly believe it would be more severe than the swine flu pandemic that hit Britain and affected 800,000 people.

The bird flu virus has only been caught by humans from birds, or close family members who became infected.

The Mirror reports Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Given the severity of the warnings, the Government ought to say what measures it is taking to improve preparedness to deal with an outbreak like this.”


? Live hen sales banned after avian flu detected at Mpumalanga farm [News24, 24 June 2017]

By Jenni Evans

3ba58a1f6fe3402ca20b778a072db882.jpg


Cape Town - The sale of live hens has been banned in South Africa after avian flu was confirmed at a farm in Mpumalanga, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Saturday.

''We have placed a general ban on the sale of live hens across the country until further notice,'' department spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said.

This was after a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 was confirmed in a broiler breeder site in Mpumalanga on Thursday June 22.

'HPAI is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and it is highly contagious. It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water,'' the department explained.

The farm, which has not been named yet, has been quarantined and the affected animals have been already been culled there.

Hens are female chickens and those in broiler breeder sites are usually spent after a year, and are sold to small businesses who then sell them on at markets in towns and villages.

The department is tracing the movement of all poultry in and out of the farm in order to establish the source of the Influenza.

A 30km control zone in Mpumalanga and Free State has already been set up and provinces are on high alert.

To contain the situation, the department ordered the following:

- A complete standstill of movement of poultry and poultry products on the infected farm(s). Nothing is to enter or leave the farm;

- Birds at the infected sites will be euthanised humanely;

- State vets are conducting inspections starting with all the farms within a 3 km and a further 27km (30km) radius around the affected farm to gather information on the health status of the birds;

- Poultry and poultry products may only move from these farms with a State Vet Permit;

- Trading partners have been notified and the department is unable currently to issue the declaration of ''country freedom of highly pathogenic avian influenza for trade in fresh poultry meat and unprocessed poultry products'';

- Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh products from registered poultry compartment will continue depending on the requirements of the importing countries;

No human cases of infection with avian flu H5N8 have been reported, but people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry must wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants.

Meat from healthy poultry is safe for consumption as it is subjected to strict meat inspection processes at abattoirs.

The department stressed that people must not eat birds found dead, dying or sick.

There is no effective treatment for the disease yet.

The department asked that infected animals be humanely destroyed and disposed of.

Molapo said the ban on the sale of live hens includes free range hens.

She said chickens already in supermarkets would have been vetted and are safe.


? Bird flu pandemic worse than 2009 swine flu outbreak could be on its way to Britain [Mirror.co.uk, 24 June 2017]

BYNIGEL NELSON

People-participate-in-an-emergency-exercise-on-prevention-and-control-of-H7N9-bird-flu-virus.jpg
A bird flu pandemic could be heading Britain's way, warn scientists (Photo: Reuters)

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth urged the Government to say what measures it is taking to improve preparedness to deal with such an outbreak

Scientists fear a bird flu pandemic worse than the 2009 swine flu outbreak could be heading Britain’s way.

And the UK is making no preparations for a vaccine to prevent it.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Given the severity of the warnings, the Government ought to say what measures it is taking to improve preparedness to deal with an outbreak like this.”

More than 1,300 bird flu victims have been identified, mostly in China.

Of those, 476 have died, a rate of more than one in three.

There are also victims in Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam, and two cases in Canada of people travelling from China.

PROD-Jon-Ashworth.jpg
Jon Ashworth wants the Government to outline what measures it is taking to improve preparedness (Photo: Getty)

The virus, H7N9, has so far only been caught by humans from birds or a close family member who is infected.

But scientists say that it is only two mutations away from widespread human-to-human transmission.

A warning in New Scientist magazine says: “If the virus evolves the ability to spread between humans easily, it will go pandemic and circle the world in weeks.”

Flu experts say if that happens it is likely to be more severe than the H1N1 swine flu pandemic that swept Britain eight years ago.

h7n9-bird-flu-virus.jpg
Jon Ashworth wants the Government to outline what measures it is taking to improve preparedness (Photo: Getty)

They fear it could rival the 1918 pandemic when a bird flu strain killed up to 100million people worldwide.

The 2009 swine flu outbreak in Britain struck 800,000 people and caused more than 280 deaths.

The US Centre for Disease Control said: “It is possible that this latest virus could gain the ability to spread easily and sustainably among people, triggering a global outbreak.”

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said, "The risk of the influenza A H7N9 strain to residents in the UK remains very low, and similarly for those travelling to China.

"However, we are monitoring and we advise precautions are taken to protect those travelling against possible infection.

"These precautions include avoiding visiting live animal markets and poultry farms and avoiding contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers. Only eat thoroughly cooked poultry, egg or duck dishes and always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not touch dead or dying birds in China and do not bring poultry products back to the UK.”


? SOUTH AFRICANS URGED NOT TO PANIC OVER BIRD FLU OUTBREAK IN MPUMALANGA [Eyewitness News, 23 June 2017]

by Masego Rahlaga

xzlkjcfvlakqa3tnkskz.jpg
According to officials, the H5N8 is highly contagious, the most damaging type and lethal to poultry. Picture: Pixabay.com.

The outbreak of avian flu was first announced in Zimbabwe earlier in June, prompting the South African government to quickly halt imports from that country.

JOHANNESBURG - The Agriculture Ministry and other organisations say South Africans should not panic after an outbreak of avian influenza, otherwise known as bird flu in Mpumalanga.
The outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu was detected in the province on Thursday.

At least 5,000 birds have died of the highly contagious disease and the remainder at the 24,000 birds farm are in the process of being culled.

The outbreak of avian flu was first announced in Zimbabwe earlier in June, prompting the South
African government to quickly halt imports from that country.

However, the government cannot stop wild birds from migrating from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

But the Agriculture Department’s Bomikazi Molapo says there is no need to panic.

“All that needs to be done is for all farmers to adhere to the biosecurity measures.”

The South African Poultry Association’s Kevin Lovell says human beings are safe.

“This particular strain of the disease has been in Europe for well over a year and it hasn’t causee what measures it is taking to improve preparedness (Photo: Getty)

They fear it could rival the 1918 pandemic when a bird flu strain killed up to 100million people worldwide.

The 2009 swine flu outbreak in Britain struck 800,000 people and caused more than 280 deaths.

The US Centre for Disease Control said: “It is possible that this latest virus could gain the ability to spread easily and sustainably among people, triggering a global outbreak.”

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said, "The risk of the influenza A H7N9 strain to residents in the UK remains very low, and similarly for those travelling to China.

"However, we are monitoring and we advise precautions are taken to protect those travelling against possible infection.

"These precautions include avoiding visiting live animal markets and poultry farms and avoiding contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers. Only eat thoroughly cooked poultry, egg or duck dishes and always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not touch dead or dying birds in China and do not bring poultry products back to the UK.”


? SOUTH AFRICANS URGED NOT TO PANIC OVER BIRD FLU OUTBREAK IN MPUMALANGA [Eyewitness News, 23 June 2017]

by Masego Rahlaga

xzlkjcfvlakqa3tnkskz.jpg
According to officials, the H5N8 is highly contagious, the most damaging type and lethal to poultry. Picture: Pixabay.com.

The outbreak of avian flu was first announced in Zimbabwe earlier in June, prompting the South African government to quickly halt imports from that country.

JOHANNESBURG - The Agriculture Ministry and other organisations say South Africans should not panic after an outbreak of avian influenza, otherwise known as bird flu in Mpumalanga.
The outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu was detected in the province on Thursday.

At least 5,000 birds have died of the highly contagious disease and the remainder at the 24,000 birds farm are in the process of being culled.

The outbreak of avian flu was first announced in Zimbabwe earlier in June, prompting the South
African government to quickly halt imports from that country.

However, the government cannot stop wild birds from migrating from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

But the Agriculture Department’s Bomikazi Molapo says there is no need to panic.

“All that needs to be done is for all farmers to adhere to the biosecurity measures.”

The South African Poultry Association’s Kevin Lovell says human beings are safe.

“This particular strain of the disease has been in Europe for well over a year and it hasn’t caused any problems for people.”

Agrisa’s Johannes Moller said: “It’s certain to say that there’s no danger or real danger for humans.”

There are various strains of avian flu and according to officials the H5N8 is highly contagious, the most damaging type and lethal to poultry.d any problems for people.”

Agrisa’s Johannes Moller said: “It’s certain to say that there’s no danger or real danger for humans.”

There are various strains of avian flu and according to officials the H5N8 is highly contagious, the most damaging type and lethal to poultry.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)


? More avian flu outbreaks reported in China, Belgium, Taiwan [CIDRAP 19 June 2017]

In the latest avian flu developments, China's agriculture ministry reported a large die-off related to H7N9 avian influenza in Heilongjiang province in the far northeastern corner of the country, according to an official statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

Though the report didn't specify that it was the highly pathogenic strain, its mention of deaths of 19,500 breeding hens suggests that the more lethal version is involved. Highly pathogenic H7N9 was first detected in Chinese poultry in February and has already spread to some of the country's more northern provinces, such as Inner Mongolia.

In other developments, Belgian officials today reported more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks, according to separate reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The first event began Jun 10 at a trader of birds intended for hobbyists in West Flanders province, killing 500 of 4,047 birds.

The other outbreak involved birds not classified as poultry, a group that includes wild birds. It began Jun 16 in Hainaut province, leading to the deaths of 21 of 26 birds. Both provinces are in western Belgium and the source of the virus in both outbreaks was found to be the introduction of new live animals.

Elsewhere, Taiwan reported four more H5N2 outbreaks, one from the highly pathogenic virus and three from the low-pathogenic version, according to notifications to the OIE.

The highly pathogenic outbreak began Jun 8 at a commercial farm housing native chickens in Yunlin county, killing 2,767 of 14,000 susceptible birds. The start date for the low-pathogenic outbreaks ranged from Jan 13 to Apr 10, affecting commercial farms in three different locations: Chiayi county, Tainan City, and Yunlin county. Between the three low-pathogenic events, the virus killed 3,039 of 50,334 poultry.


? Tainan culls 34,000 chickens amid avian flu threat [Focus Taiwan News Channel (press release), 18 June 2017]

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Photo courtesy of Tainan Animal Health Inspection and Protection Office

Taipei, June 18 (CNA) A poultry farm in Tainan's Xiaying District was confirmed on Sunday to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus, leading to the culling of 34,072 birds, the city's Animal Health Inspection and Protection Office said.

It was the 14th poultry farm hit by avian influenza subtype H5 in the city this year, according to data released by the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA).

The farm reported the suspected cases of the disease to authorities on Thursday, the Tainan office said, and samples taken from the farm were then analyzed and confirmed to be avian flu.

Meanwhile, nearby areas around the farm were disinfected to prevent spreading of the disease, it said.

As of 6 p.m. on Sunday, a total of 1,417,429 birds have been destroyed at 144 poultry farms infected with highly pathogenic avian flu viruses across Taiwan since the beginning of the year.

The infected poultry farms have been located in Taoyuan in northern Taiwan; Changhua and Yunlin counties in central Taiwan; Chiayi and Pingtung counties and the cities of Tainan and Kaohsiung in the south; and Yilan and Hualien counties in the east, COA data shows.

(By Yang Sz-ruei and Ko Lin)


? China reports additional H7N9 avian flu, Health officials meet in Hong Kong [Outbreak News Today, 18 June 2017]

H7N9-300x300.jpg
H7N9 avian influenza/ Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe-CDC

The China National Health and Family Planning Commission reported an additional five human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including one death during the week of Jun. 9 through 15.

The four male patients and one female, who came from Beijing, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and Zhejiang and were aged from 41 to 68, had onset from April 25 to June 6. Among them, three were known to have exposure to poultry or poultry markets.

The number of cumulative cases reported since 2013 has risen to 1,533 cases through June 10.

In addition in mid-May, health authorities from Guangdong and Macau visited Hong Kong to discuss the collaboration in the prevention and control of avian influenza.

In the current fifth wave of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) since October 2016, over 700 human cases in 25 provinces/municipalities/autonomous regions in Mainland China have been reported. Among these cases, over 60 cases were reported in Guangdong Province.

The participants had in-depth discussions and experience-sharing on the collaboration in the prevention and control of avian influenza and related notification system.

Public health actions in combating avian influenza were discussed during the meeting, including disease surveillance, laboratory surveillance, diagnosis and clinical management, travel health advice and public education, port health measures, preparedness plan and risk communication, poultry import and control, laboratory surveillance on poultry, measures implemented in wholesale poultry market and retail markets.

MERS-CoV News update from 25 May 2017



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – United Arab Emirates [World Health Organization, 28 Aug, 2017]

On 29 July 2017, the national IHR focal point of the United Arab Emirates reported one additional case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Details of the case

The patient, who lives and works in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, presented at a hospital in Al Ain on 16 July 2017. On 16 July, a chest X-ray showed pneumonia and he was treated with antibiotics and non-invasive ventilation. On 25 July, his symptoms worsened and a sputum sample was collected and tested for MERS-CoV and influenza. On 26 July, showing no signs of improvement, the patient was transferred to a second hospital in Al Ain and placed in an intensive care unit.

A second sputum sample was collected on 26 July and both samples tested positive for MERS-
CoV on 27 July 2017. The patient is currently in ICU on mechanical ventilation. Investigations into the source of infection are ongoing. At the time of writing the results of the investigation were not yet provided to WHO.

Globally, 2067 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 720 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

Public health response

The Ministry of Health in Abu Dhabi carried out contact tracing and followed up 89 health care workers and 95 contacts at his place of employment. All identified contacts were monitored for 14 days from the last date of exposure. No additional cases were detected.

WHO risk assessment

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 the disease are nonspecific.

Therefore, healthcare 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 the 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.



 SAUDI ARABIA 2 die of MERS in Hail, Khamis Mushayt [Arab News, 12 Aug, 2017]

by MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN

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A boy wearing a mask held by his father in Taif. (Reuters file photo)

RIYADH: A 58-year-old Saudi man and a 50-year-old male expatriate died Thursday of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) in Hail and Khamis Mushayt, respectively, the Health Ministry said Friday.

Two new cases, female expatriates aged 38 and 42, were diagnosed with the virus in Dawmat Al-Jandal in Al-Jouf province

Earlier this week, the ministry reported nine new cases: Seven in Dawmat Al-Jandal and the others in Madinah and Khamis Mushayt.

Since July 2014, 1,694 cases of MERS have been recorded throughout the Kingdom, including 688 deaths. There are currently 11 patients undergoing medical treatment in various hospitals.

A senior health official said people should stay away from MERS-infected or suspected patients since it is transmitted via droplets through coughing and sneezing.

People have been advised to wear a protective mask over the nose and mouth in crowded places, and follow basic health etiquette when sneezing or coughing.

Common symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, congestion in the nose and throat, and diarrhea.

In advanced cases, the patient can have serious complications such as pneumonia, which may lead to death.

The ministry recommends that people abide by basic health guidelines, including washing hands well with soap or sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing.



 Health worker among 5 new Saudi MERS cases [CIDRAP, 9 Aug, 2017]

by Stephanie Soucheray

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sudok1/ iStock

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported seven new cases of MERS-CoV today, including five connected to a cluster in Dumah Al Jandal, most apparently linked to a hospital setting.

Three of the new cases are healthcare workers, all expats who have asymptomatic infections and are in stable condition. They include a 49-year-old man and two women, ages 27 and 26.

The other two new cases connected to the Dumah Al Jandal cluster are Saudi men. A 21-year-old is in critical condition after being diagnosed with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The MOH said he was a household contact of another MERS-CoV patient. A 70-year-old is also in critical condition, and the MOH said he acquired his infection as a patient in the hospital.

At least 9 cases in Dumah Al Jandal

In the last several days, there have been nine MERS-CoV infections announced from Dumah Al Jandal, including a primary case, four among health workers, one in a hospital patient, and three involving household contacts. The city is located in northwestern Saudi Arabia.

Hospital-based infections are a hallmark of MERS-CoV outbreaks, with healthcare workers and fellow patients often exposed to index patients before they are isolated for treatment.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization said three Riyadh hospital-based outbreaks, first described earlier this summer, were officially over.

New cases from other cities

The MOH reported two additional cases today. One is a 58-year-old expatriate man from Khamis Mushait who was symptomatic and is in critical condition, and the other is a 55-year-old Saudi man from the city of Al Ula in Medina province was also symptomatic and in stable condition.

Both men's illnesses were described as primary, meaning it's unlikely they contracted the virus from another person.

The new cases raise Saudi Arabia's overall MERS-CoV total to 1,693 cases, 686 of them fatal.

Thirteen people are still being treated for their infections.



 Health worker among 5 new Saudi MERS cases [CIDRAP, 7 Aug, 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring

mersvirus.jpg
NIAID/ Flickr cc

Saudi Arabia reported five new MERS-CoV cases over the past 2 days, one of them fatal, and three of the illnesses appear to be linked to a healthcare-related cluster in Dumah Al Jandal in the country's northwest.

One of the other two patients had indirect contact with camels and another had primary exposure to the virus, reflecting a mix of ways people contract Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.

Health worker, household contacts among latest cases

In its regular update yesterday, Saudi Arabia's ministry of health (MOH) reported two new cases, one of which involves a 25-year-old female healthcare worker in Dumah Al Jandal who has an asymptomatic infection. The woman, who is an expat, acquired her infection in the healthcare setting, the MOH said.

So far it's unclear if her illness is related to another MERS-CoV case reported from the same city on Aug 2, that one in a 51-year-old man who was hospitalized in critical condition. An investigation revealed the man had primary exposure, meaning he probably didn't contract it from another patient.

Today the MOH reported two more cases from Dumah Al Jandal, both of them Saudi boys who are listed as household contacts of an earlier confirmed case. One is a 16-year-old who has symptoms and the other is a 12-year-old who is asymptomatic.

Other cases include a fatality

In its report yesterday, the Saudi MOH reported a fatal case involving a 38-year-old Saudi man from Najran in the far south of the country. The patient had an underlying health condition and had primary exposure to MERS-CoV.

In today's update, the MOH said an infection has also been confirmed in a 50-year-old Saudi man from Hayel in north central Saudi Arabia. The man's condition is listed as critical, and authorities say the source of the virus was indirect contact with camels.

The new illnesses and deaths lift Saudi Arabia's overall MERS-CoV total to 1,698 cases, 686 of them fatal. Nine people are still being treated for their infections.

Riyadh hospital outbreaks over

In its monthly update recapping MERS-CoV activity in the previous month, the World Health Organization's Eastern Mediterranean regional office (WHO EMRO) said that for July, six lab-confirmed cases were reported, five from Saudi Arabia and one from the United Arab Emirates.

Three of the infections were fatal.

No new healthcare-related illnesses or additional hospital outbreaks were reported in July. In the three earlier-reported Riyadh hospital outbreaks, the latest case was confirmed on Jun 17. Now that more than two incubation periods have passed, officials said the outbreaks are now considered to be over.

So far the demographics of cases reported in 2017 don't show a change from cases reported since 2012 when the virus was detected for the first time in humans. Adults ages 50 to 59 are still most at risk for contracting primary infections, with those ages 30 to 39 most at risk for secondary infections. For deaths after primary exposure, the risk is highest in adults ages 50 to 59, and fatalities in secondary exposure are highest in older adults, those ages 70 to 79.

Due to improvements in infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, the number of hospital-related cases declined significantly in 2015 and 2016, the WHO said.

Globally, as of the end of July, the WHO had received reports of 2,045 MERS-CoV cases, 773 of them fatal, for a case-fatality rate of 35.8%.



 NIH issues advisory on prevention, control of MERS for Hajj pilgrims [Geo News, Pakistan, 14 July 2017]

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ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad on Friday issued an advisory for Pakistani citizens regarding prevention and control of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) during upcoming Hajj.

Through this advisory, the NIH directed all concerned authorities, including federal and provincial ministries of religious affairs to take appropriate measures during the upcoming Hajj season in order to prevent the spread of diseases.

According to the advisory, MERS is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The advisory also said that MERS-CoV can spread from infected people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person.

Mass gathering such as Hajj provide a basis for the disease to spread easily.

In the wake of MERS-CoV cases in Saudi Arabia, its travel associated international spread and the upcoming Hajj seasons, it is imperative to institute effective prevention and control measures among Pakistani pilgrims.

Emphasising the need to have close collaboration on the pattern of Hajj 2016, the National Institute of Health, recommends the following actions:

・Pilgrims with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease and immunodeficiency should consult their physicians before travelling to assess whether making the pilgrimage is advisable for them.

・Through health education sessions conducted at each Hajji camp in collaboration with the provincial or area health departments, the departing pilgrims must be informed about the following general health precautions to lower the risk of infection in general:

・Frequent hand washing with soap and water, if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

・Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth after touching common surfaces/hand shake with ill persons

・Avoid close contact with sick people.

・Avoid undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, and wash fruits and vegetables before eating them;

・Maintaining good personal hygiene;

・Avoid unnecessary contact with farm, domestic, and wild animals, especially camels

・Pilgrims developing a significant acute respiratory illness with fever, cough or diarrhoea should be advised to:

・Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard the tissue in the trash after use

・Minimise their contact with others to keep from infecting them

・Returning pilgrims should be advised through a leaflet to seek immediate medical attention if they develop a significant acute respiratory illness with fever and cough during two weeks after their return.



 Woman dies of MERS in Riyadh, raising toll to 683 [Arab News, 14 July 2017]

by MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN

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RIYADH: A 76-year-old Saudi woman died of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) in Riyadh on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths due to the virus to 683.

According to an official from the Ministry of Health, the deceased did not have any previous illnesses, nor did she have any contacts with camels.

The patient was treated at a government hospital in Huweiyah, located some 175 km southwest of Riyadh.

Since July 2012, 1,677 patients have been infected by MERS in all parts of the Kingdom. They included 683 deaths, 987 recoveries and seven patients currently under treatment.

Dr. Shin Young-soo, World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for the Western Pacific, advised continued vigilance for any new cases of MERS through early detection and a rapid-response system.

Health care workers are advised to use stringent infection prevention and control measures when treating patients. This includes washing hands before and after contact with patients, and wearing a mask, eye protection, gown and gloves when treating probable or confirmed MERS cases.

Health care workers should note the travel history of people showing symptoms of the virus.

Most MERS patients develop severe to acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About four out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.

There are three major hospitals in Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah that have been designated as centers to treat MERS patients. In addition to these facilities, the ministry has assigned 20 additional well-equipped hospitals to deal with infected cases.

The ministry has issued warnings for people to stay away from camels. Those who are working on farms have been advised to take maximum precautions against the virus by wearing face masks, isolating infected animals and following basic hygiene principles.

As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns or other places where animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand-washing before and after contact with animals, and avoiding sick animals.



 MERS-CoV: The Black Death of the XXI Century waiting to pounce [Pravda, 11 July 2017]

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Predictably, as with the Influenza A H1N1 outbreak, the World Health Organization is taking a cavalier attitude towards MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Sindrome-related Coronavirus, which appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and in five years has caused 2.027 cases and 710 deaths, a mortality rate of almost 30 per cent.

With Influenza A (H1N1) in 2009/10, the response of the WHO was to sit back and inform us as
the virus went through the six phases until reaching Pandemic status. By then the pharmaceutical industry had prepared billions of doses of an anti-viral medicine which made those involved a fortune (many countries bought up too much stock then destroyed it) and which was linked to neurological disorders and death in a number of cases around the world.

In the last two years there have been around one thousand new laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, a unique strain of Coronavirus (which causes the common cold) endemic in the Middle East and linked to contact with camels. However, the virus can be transmitted from human to human and has since spread to the Far East.

The World Health Organization admits that there are proven human-to-human chains of transmission, admits that "the risk of individual travelers becoming infected and bringing the coronavirus back to their country could not be avoided", yet with this highly pathogenic illness (with its 30 per cent mortality rate), the WHO does not recommend any travel restrictions.

Does this make sense? If this deadly disease becomes a global pandemic, which it is threatening to do, it will kill over one third of its victims, becoming the twenty-first century's Black Death.

Can we ask if there is collusion between WHO and the Pharma Lobby?

Once again we see the WHO standing back, stating that the spread of MERS-CoV to the Far East does not constitute a "public health emergency of international concern". So we may ask, how competent is the World Health Organization in handling such outbreaks? Or can we also ask, is there any collusion between the WHO and the pharmaceutical industry in allowing diseases to reach pandemic proportions so that the pharma giants can make billions?

May I make a prediction? Here it is: MERS-CoV will one of these days raise its human-to.human transmission capability until the point at which it is easily transmissable like any common cold or Influenza virus, after all it is a strain of Coronavirus. When this happens, it will break out of its Middle Eastern and Far East bastions and sweep around the world, infecting a third of the population and killing one third of these. All we have to do is to multiply the current number of infections and eaths by one million, and we get 2 billion infected and 700-750 million deaths.

When did MERS-CoV appear?

This disease first appeared in the Arabian Peninsula in September 2012, when it was reported as a SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Infection). It was originally linked to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), linked to civets, which broke out in the Far East in 2005 but tests revealed it was caused by a novel form of Coronavirus (the type that causes the common cold).

How many cases have there been?

Originally breaking out in Saudi Arabia, 2.027 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV have been recorded, causing 710 deaths (a mortality rate of 30%) in Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen (Middle East) and Algeria, Austria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (UK), and United States of America (USA) (travel-related cases).

What are the symptoms?

Some cases are asymptomatic (patients do not have any symptoms). Most cases have respiratory symptoms (difficulty in breathing), fever and cough, pneumonia, sometimes diarrhea and in severe cases, respiratory and kidney failure and death.

How dangerous is MERS-CoV?

It kills 30% of those infected and is particularly dangerous for the elderly, those with suppressed immune systems (including transplant patients) or with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer or chronic lung disease.

Where does it come from?

It is thought that the disease made a species jump from bats to camels and it is thought that humans can be infected by drinking camel milk or urine or badly cooked camel meat. It is also clear that human-to-human transmission chains have taken place through close contact.

They say it is difficult to catch

Healthcare workers have been infected by coming into close contact with patients, infected patients have passed the illness on to other patients and visitors, so there is a great need for precautions, including education in infection prevention.

Do we know anything about the infection mechanism?

No we do not. Neither do we understand exactly where it comes from, nor do we fully understand the transmission mechanism, nor is there a vaccination or a cure.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Pravda.Ru

Twitter: @TimothyBHinchey

timothy.hinchey@gmail.com

*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Lebanon [World Health Organization, 4 July 2017]

On 19 June 2017, the national IHR focal point of Lebanon reported one additional case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

Details of the case

A 39-year-old male Lebanese national living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia developed mild symptoms on 8 June 2017. As the patient was a health care worker and due to enhanced Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) surveillance activities ongoing in Riyadh, a nasopharyngeal swab was collected on 11 June 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and tested negative for MERS-CoV by PCR at the Riyadh Regional Laboratory. The case is without a history of comorbid conditions. He does not work in a health care facility with active MERS patients, has not had contact with an identified confirmed MERS case, nor has had known contact with a patient with respiratory illness. He has no history of contact with dromedaries in the 14 days prior to the onset of the symptoms.

On 11 June 2017, the case travelled from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon and reported that he had no symptoms while travelling. On 15 June, he developed gastrointestinal symptoms and a medical investigation was initiated on the same day in Lebanon, whereupon a chest X-ray confirmed the diagnosis of pneumonia. A lower respiratory specimen was collected 16 June 2017 and tested positive for MERS-CoV. The case was reported to Ministry of Public Health on the same day.

The case was placed in home isolation. The case has been asymptomatic since 17 June 2017, and two consecutive nasopharyngeal swabs and one lower respiratory sample were collected and tested negative for MERS-CoV by PCR, on 17, 19 and 23 June 2017, respectively. The patient was released from home isolation on 23 June 2017. All contacts in Lebanon have tested negative for MERS-CoV. Contact tracing in Saudi Arabia and the source of infection are under investigation by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia.

Globally, 2037 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 710 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

Public health response

During the investigation of this case, the Ministry of Public Health evaluated the case and his contacts and implemented measures to limit further human-to-human transmission. These measures included:

・Proper isolation for confirmed cases (home isolation for asymptomatic patients, and in hospital for symptomatic patients).

Active tracing for all contacts of patients, exposed health care workers and community contacts in Lebanon.

・Identification and contact and follow up of contacts in Saudi Arabia and investigation into the patient’s source of infection, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia.

・Identification of high and low risk contacts among health care workers with daily monitoring for all during incubation period of the 14 days, and performing laboratory testing with nasopharyngeal swabs from all exposed health care workers, regardless of the development of symptoms. All tests among contacts have been negative.

・Identification of high and low risk contacts among households with daily monitoring for all during incubation period of the 14 days, and PCR testing for symptomatic contacts. No symptoms were observed among household contacts.

・Enforcement of infection prevention and control measures at the hospital.

・Sending positive specimens to reference labs for confirmation and sequencing.

The Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon is communicating with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia for follow up of health care workers and social contacts of the patient while he was in Saudi Arabia. The patient had not worked in a health care facility where recent MERS cases have been reported, but had initially been tested in Riyadh on 11 June 2017 as part of enhanced surveillance activities in Riyadh due to the clusters of MERS cases previously reported in the Disease Outbreak News published on 13 June 2017, 19 June 2017, and 28 June 2017.

WHO risk assessment

MERS-CoV causes severe human infections resulting in high mortality and has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. So far, the observed non-sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in health care settings. This is the second case of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV reported from Lebanon. One case of MERS has previously been reported in Lebanon on 8 May 2014 (See Disease Outbreak News published on 15 May 2014).

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.



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Lebanon [CIDRAP, 3 July 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring

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Lebanon's ministry of public health reported a MERS-CoV infection in a man who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, marking the country's second such case, as the pace of new illnesses in Saudi Arabia slowed over the past several days.

Lebanese man had been to Saudi Arabia

In a statement recently posted in Arabic on Jun 28, Lebanon's Ministry of Public Health said the man was diagnosed with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) on Jun 16.

He had experienced several days of fever and respiratory symptoms after arriving from Saudi Arabia.

The man is being treated and is currently in good health at his home, where he is being isolated and is undergoing monitoring. The health ministry also said it is monitoring people who were in contact with the patient during travel and at his home in Lebanon.

Lebanon's only other MERS-CoV case, reported in 2014, also involved a man—a Lebanese national who worked as a health provider—who had recently traveled in the Gulf region.

Saudi Arabia developments

Elsewhere, the number of new MERS-CoV infections in Saudi Arabia seems to have slowed following a spate of hospital-related cases in Riyadh, with only one case reported over the last 6 days.

The latest illness was reported in Jul 1, involving a 70-year-old Saudi man from Albaha in the country's southwest, according to a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH). The man has symptoms and is in stable condition. He is not a health worker.

Investigators are still reviewing how the man was exposed to the virus.

One more death was noted in a previously reported patient, that of a 70-year-old man from Riyadh who had an underlying health condition, according to a Jun 30 MOH update.

As of today, Saudi Arabia has reported 1,673 cases, including 681 deaths, since MERS-CoV was first detected in humans in 2012. Nine people are still being treated for their infections.



 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – Pipeline Review, H1 2017 [MedGadget, 30 June 2017]

“The Report Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – Pipeline Review, H1 2017 provides information on pricing, market analysis, shares, forecast, and company profiles for key industry participants. – MarketResearchReports.biz”

Global Markets Direct’s latest Pharmaceutical and Healthcare disease pipeline guide Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – Pipeline Review, H1 2017, provides an overview of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) (Infectious Disease) pipeline landscape.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus (MERSCoV). Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Pneumonia is common, and sometimes it cause injury to organs, such as the kidneys. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms (joint pain and fever) with fluids and medications.

Report Highlights

Global Markets Direct’s Pharmaceutical and Healthcare latest pipeline guide Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – Pipeline Review, H1 2017, provides comprehensive information on the therapeutics under development for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) (Infectious Disease), complete with analysis by stage of development, drug target, mechanism of action (MoA), route of administration (RoA) and molecule type. The guide covers the descriptive pharmacological action of the therapeutics, its complete research and development history and latest news and press releases.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) (Infectious Disease) pipeline guide also reviews of key players involved in therapeutic development for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and features dormant and discontinued projects. The guide covers therapeutics under Development by Companies /Universities /Institutes, the molecules developed by Companies in Phase I, Preclinical and Discovery stages are 2, 10 and 6 respectively. Similarly, the Universities portfolio in Preclinical stages comprises 2 molecules, respectively.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) (Infectious Disease) pipeline guide helps in identifying and tracking emerging players in the market and their portfolios, enhances decision making capabilities and helps to create effective counter strategies to gain competitive advantage. The guide is built using data and information sourced from Global Markets Directs proprietary databases, company/university websites, clinical trial registries, conferences, SEC filings, investor presentations and featured press releases from company/university sites and industry-specific third party sources. Additionally, various dynamic tracking processes ensure that the most recent developments are captured on a real time basis.

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 The World Bank’s “pandemic bonds” are designed so investors pay in the event of an outbreak [Quarts, 30 June 2017]


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Preparation. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

When the Ebola epidemic broke out in West Africa in 2014, in took several months to get large amounts money (around $100 million) to the countries that needed it, according to the World Bank. In that time, thousands of people died. In an effort to fight the next pandemic faster, the World Bank has turned to global financial markets, issuing $425 million in “pandemic bonds” and related derivatives to pay for emergency relief.

The money raised comprises the bulk of a $500 million Pandemic Emergency Financial Facility that will provide funds for poor countries in case of outbreaks of infectious diseases over the next five years. The bonds are designed to transfer the risk of a health crisis in low-income countries to the global financial markets. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said this will help move away from “the cycle of panic and neglect” that has characterized recent pandemics.

The pandemic bonds work like this: Investors buy the bonds and receive regular coupons payments in return. If there is an outbreak of disease, the investors don’t get their initial money back. There are two varieties of debt, both scheduled to mature in July 2020. The first bond raised $225 million and features an interest rate of around 7%. Payout on the bond is suspended if there is an outbreak of new influenza viruses or coronaviridae (SARS, MERS). The second, riskier bond raised $95 million at an interest rate of more than 11%. This bond keeps investors’ money if there is an outbreak of Filovirus, Coronavirus, Lassa Fever, Rift Valley Fever, and/or Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever. The World Bank also issued $105 million in swap derivatives that work in a similar way.

These bonds are similar to catastrophe bonds, a $90 billion market used by insurance companies to shift risks of hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters onto the financial markets. The World Bank’s bond sale was 200% oversubscribed, with investors eager to get their hands on the high-yield returns on offer. The majority of buyers were from Europe and included dedicated catastrophe-bond investors, pension funds, and asset managers.

Despite recent innovations, such as a genetic tool that maps how viruses spread in real-time, the world remains unprepared to deal with an epidemic on a global scale. The World Bank estimates that the annual cost of “moderately severe to severe” pandemics is roughly $570 billion, or 0.7% of global GDP. If—or when—there is another severe outbreak, these new bonds are meant to cut the cost, in terms of both human lives and financial resources, of fighting infectious diseases. Ebola killed more than 11,000 people and reduced GDP in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone by $2.8 billion.



 SAUDI ARABIA 13 patients being treated for MERS in Kingdom [Arab News, 30 June 2017]

BY MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN

RIYADH: Thirteen patients are being treated for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) in government hospitals. Two days ago, a Saudi female, 30, died of the virus, indirectly infected by a camel.

Since June 2012, there have been 1,667 MERS-CoV cases, which included 680 deaths, in various parts of the Kingdom.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), MERS is a viral respiratory disease that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Approximately 80 percent of human cases have been reported by the Kingdom.

The world body said the clinical spectrum of MERS-CoV infection ranges from no symptoms or mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease and death.

A typical presentation of MERS-CoV is fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is a common finding, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported. The virus appears to cause more severe disease in older people, those with chronic conditions such as renal disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes.

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. Treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.

In its report, WHO said: “We know people are infected through contact with infected dromedary camels or infected people. Cases identified outside the Middle East are usually travelers who were infected in the Middle East and then traveled to areas outside the Middle East. On rare occasions, outbreaks have occurred in areas outside the Middle East.”

As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns or other places where dromedary camels and other animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and should avoid contact with sick animals.

Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking or other heat treatments. Animal products that are appropriately processed through cooking or pasteurization are safe for consumption, but should also be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia [World Health Organization, 28 June 2017]

Between 16 and 23 June 2017, the national IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported seven additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including two deaths, and four deaths among previously reported cases.

Details of the cases

Three of the seven newly reported cases are associated with clusters 1 and 3 as reported in the Disease Outbreak News published on 13 June 2017 and 19 June 2017.

Cluster 1

An additional two cases have been reported in this cluster in Riyadh City, Riyadh Region. In total, 34 laboratory-confirmed cases reported to WHO are associated with this cluster.

Cluster 2

No newly reported cases are associated with cluster 2 as reported in the Disease Outbreak News published on 13 June 2017.

Cluster 3

An additional case has been reported in this cluster in Riyadh City, Riyadh Region. Thus far, this cluster involves nine laboratory-confirmed patients.

Globally, 2036 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 710 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

Public health response

The Ministry of Health is evaluating each case and their contacts and is still implementing the measures to limit further human-to-human transmission and bring these outbreaks to a control as described in the DON published on 19 June 2017.

WHO risk assessment

MERS-CoV causes severe human infections resulting in high mortality and has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. So far, the observed non-sustained 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.



 Three new MERS cases diagnosed in Saudi Arabia [CIDRAP 19 June 2017]

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed the diagnosis of three new cases of MERS-CoV in recent days, including one case in an asymptomatic healthcare worker at a hospital in Riyadh. At least three hospitals in Riyadh have reported MERS outbreaks this month.

The healthcare worker was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) on Jun 19. She is a 41-year-old expatriate who is in stable condition.

Yesterday the MOH said a 71-year-old man from Hofuf was in critical condition after being diagnosed with the virus, as was a 22-year-old man from Riyadh. Both men are Saudis, and their sources of infection are listed as primary, meaning it is unlikely they contracted the disease from another person.

The new cases raise Saudi Arabia's MERS totals to 1,653 cases, including 676 deaths. Eighteen people are still being treated for their infections.

In addition, today the World Health Organization (WHO) offered more details on 14 MERS cases identified by the MOH between Jun 11 and 15. One of the patients died, and seven are healthcare workers. The WHO first described the three clusters of MERS outbreaks in Riyadh hospitals on Jun 13.

Nine new cases were associated with cluster 1, a Riyadh hospital described in the Jun 13 update. To date, 32 cases have been linked to this hospital. No new cases have been reported in cluster 2, while cluster 3 has four new cases. To date cluster 3 involves eight healthcare workers.



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia [World Health Organization, 19 June 2017]

Between 11 and 15 June 2017, the national IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported 14 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection including one fatal case among previously reported cases.

Details of the cases
Thirteen of the 14 newly reported cases are associated with clusters 1 and 3 in the Disease Outbreak News published on 13 June 2017. Seven of the 13 newly reported cases are health care workers.

Cluster 1

This Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) cluster is currently occurring in a hospital, Riyadh city, Riyadh region. An additional nine cases have been reported in this cluster including three health care workers. In total, 32 laboratory-confirmed cases reported to WHO are associated with this cluster to date. All of the asymptomatic cases are in home isolation and all symptomatic cases are isolated on a hospital ward.

Cluster 2

No newly reported cases are associated with cluster 2 as reported in the Disease Outbreak News published on 13 June 2017.

Cluster 3

This MERS cluster is currently occurring in a third hospital in Riyadh city, Riyadh Region. In addition to the cases previously reported in the Disease Outbreak News published on 13 June 2017, the cluster involves four newly reported cases. To date, this cluster involves, including the suspected index case, eight laboratory confirmed patients all of them are health care workers, including the four newly reported cases described in the separate document (see link above).

Globally, 2029 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 704 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

Public health response

The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia is evaluating each case and their contacts and implementing measures to limit further human-to-human transmission and bring these outbreaks to a control. These measures include:

・Proper isolation for all confirmed cases (home isolation for asymptomatic patients, in hospital for symptomatic patients).

・Active tracing for all contacts of patients, health care workers and community contacts.

・Identification of high and low risk contacts with daily monitoring for all during incubation period of the 14 days and performing laboratory testing for high risk contacts, regardless of the development of symptoms; multiple laboratory testing is conducted during the follow-up period.

・Regular updating of the line list of cases and contacts and conducting epidemiological analysis of data to identify the source of infection, links between patients and reasons for MERS-CoV spread in the hospitals.

・Investigation of suspected cases between patients and health care workers based on case definition of MERS.

・Enforcement of strict adherence to proper environmental cleaning, disinfection and terminal cleaning and disinfection for hospital environment with special care to the departments where the outbreaks are currently occurring or have occurred.

・Enforcement of visual triage for respiratory diseases in emergency department and outpatient departments and ensure the 24/7 availability of a trained nurse for early detection of patient with respiratory symptoms, and proper documentation in triage form.

・Extensive training of all health care workers on case definition for early detection, implementation of isolation precautions, proper selection, donning and doffing of PPEs, hand hygiene and environmental cleaning and disinfection.

・Ensuring that all health care workers tested for N95 fitting (fit test).

・Ensuring availability of infection prevention supplies including hand sanitizer, PPEs, surface disinfectants, portable HEPA filters and fumigation machines.

・Enforcing the implementing of a policy of not allowing health care workers to travel without medical clearance to prevent the spread of the virus to other countries.

WHO risk assessment

MERS-CoV causes severe human infections resulting in high mortality and has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. So far, the observed non-sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in health care settings. Preliminary investigations of the clusters described above indicate that secondary cases are linked to two events where aerosolizing procedures were conducted in crowded medical wards under sub-optimal infection prevention and control conditions.

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.



 WHO details Saudi MERS clusters as outbreak grows [CIDRAP, 13 June 2017]

by Stephanie Soucheray

hospital_corridor.jpg
VILevi / iStock

The World Health Organization (WHO) today provided new details on three MERS-CoV clusters in Saudi Arabia involving 32 out of the 35 cases reported between Jun 1 and Jun 10. The clusters are in three different hospitals in Riyadh.

In related news, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new healthcare-related MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases in Riyadh, evidence that the outbreak is not over.

One cluster involves 23 cases

There are 23 cases associated with cluster 1, the WHO said in an update. The index case was a 47-year-old man who was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV on Jun 1. So far, 14 asymptomatic healt care worker contacts, 1 household contact, and 7 other patients in the hospital have also been diagnosed.

Cluster 2 is related to cluster 1, as the first case-patient in a second hospital initially visited the emergency room of the hospital implicated in cluster 1. According to the WHO, he was asymptomatic following the visit in hospital 1, and he continued to receive kidney dialysis sessions in the second hospital. The cluster involves the index case plus five healthcare workers and household contacts.

The third cluster is not related to clusters 1 or 2. To date four cases are associated with this hospital; the index case involves a patient who had camel contact. Three healthcare workers have also been diagnosed.

Though MERS is not easily transmitted between humans, it can spread quickly in the hospital setting, as many patients present with general respiratory illness symptoms, exposing healthcare workers and fellow patients.

Two new cases today

Meanwhile, the Saudi MOH reported two new MERS cases today, both in Riyadh. It's unknown at this time what cluster these cases belong to.

The first patient is a 53-year-old expatriate female healthcare worker. She is symptomatic and is in stable condition.

The second patient is a 58-year-old Saudi man. He contracted the disease as a patient in a hospital. He also has symptoms and is in stable condition.

With these new cases, Saudi Arabia now has 1,636 cases, including 673 deaths. Fifteen people are still being treated for the disease.



 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia [World Health Organization, 13 Jun 2017]

Between 1 and 10 June 2017, the national IHR focal point of Saudi Arabia reported 35 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection including three fatal cases and one death among previously reported cases (case number 5 in the Disease Outbreak News published on 6 June 2017).

Details of the cases

Detailed information concerning the cases reported can be found in a separate document (see link below).

Thirty-two of the 35 newly reported cases are associated with three simultaneous clusters of MERS, of which two are related. A description of the three clusters is below.

Cluster 1

A cluster of MERS has been identified in a hospital in Riyadh city, Riyadh Region. Twenty three cases associated with this cluster thus far and include the first identified case (a 47-year-old male reported on 1 June), 14 asymptomatic health care worker contacts, one household contact, and seven hospital contacts who were patients.

Cluster 2

This MERS cluster is occurring in a second hospital in Riyadh City, Riyadh Region. This cluster is related to cluster 1 above. The first identified case of this second cluster visited the emergency room of the cluster 1 hospital. He was asymptomatic and following this visit in hospital 1, he continued to receive kidney dialysis sessions in the second hospital. To date, this cluster involves six cases, including the case involved in cluster 1, and secondary household and health care worker contacts.

Cluster 3

This MERS cluster is currently occurring in a third hospital in Riyadh city, Riyadh Region. To date the cluster involves the four cases including the first identified case who reported contacts with dromedary camels and three asymptomatic or mild cases who were health care worker contacts.

Public health response

The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia is evaluating each case and their contacts and implementing measures to limit further human-to-human transmission and bring these outbreaks to a control. These measures include:

・Proper isolation for all confirmed cases;

・Active tracing for all contacts of patients, healthcare workers and community contacts;

・Identification of high and low risk contacts with daily monitoring for all during incubation period of the 14 days and performing laboratory testing for high risk contacts, regardless of the development of symptoms;

・Regular updating of the line list of cases and contacts and conducting epidemiological analysis of data to identify the source of infection, links between patients and reasons for human-to-human transmission within hospitals;

・Searching for suspected cases between patients and healthcare workers based on case definition of the disease;

・Enforcement of strict adherence to proper environmental cleaning, disinfection and terminal cleaning and disinfection for hospital environment with special care in departments where the outbreaks are currently occurring or have occurred;

・Enforcement of visual triage for respiratory diseases in emergency department and outpatient departments and ensure the 24/7 availability of a trained nurse for early detection of patients with respiratory symptoms, and proper documentation in triage forms;

・Extensive training of all healthcare workers on case definition for early detection, implementation of isolation precautions, proper selection, donning and doffing of PPEs, hand hygiene and environmental cleaning and disinfection;

・Ensuring that all healthcare workers tested for N95 fitting (fit test);

・Ensuring availability of infection prevention supplies including hand sanitizer, PPEs, surface disinfectants, portable HEPA filters and fumigation machines;

・Enforcing the implementation of a policy of not allowing healthcare workers to travel without medical clearance to prevent the spread of the virus to other countries.

For cases that report contact with dromedary camels, investigations of MERS-CoV infection in dromedaries is conducted by Ministry of Agriculture officials.
Globally, 2015 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 703 related deaths have been reported to WHO since 2012.

WHO risk assessment

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 is working closely with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia, continues to monitor the epidemiological situation and viral changes, and conducts risk assessment based on the latest available information. To date, there is no indication that there is sustained human-to-human transmission or that the epidemiologic pattern or viral characteristics are different than what has been reported previously.

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.



 Saudi Arabia reports 7 new hospital MERS cases [CIDRAP, 12 Jun 2017]

by Stephanie Soucheray

mers_virus_particles-niaid_0.jpg
NIAID, with Colorado State University

Over the weekend and today, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported seven new cases of MERS-CoV. All the cases are connected to the current hospital outbreaks in Riyadh.
In related news, a new study found that bats harbor thousands of coronaviruses.

Latest Saudi cases

On Jun 10 the MOH said a patient died from MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The 32-year-old Saudi man acquired the virus while he was in the hospital as a patient.

Yesterday five healthcare workers from Riyadh were diagnosed as having MERS-CoV. The three women and two men are all expatriate healthcare workers who contracted the disease on the job. Their ages range from 35 to 57, and all are in stable condition. Only two of the five employees had symptoms.

And today the MOH confirmed that another female expatriate healthcare worker was diagnosed in Riyadh. The woman, 45, was not symptomatic and is currently in stable condition.

WHO on hospital outbreaks

Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was probing at least three healthcare outbreaks of MERS in Saudi Arabia, and a WHO official told CIDRAP News that officials are investigating several unrelated hospital outbreaks in Riyadh.

Today, a new situation report said at least two hospital outbreaks began in Riyadh before June, as well as one in the Assir Region. The clusters are not related.

The report looked at MERS cases in April and May; May 15 was the last date of reporting of a laboratory-confirmed case from these three hospital clusters. So far in June, there have been at least 27 cases of healthcare-acquired MERS reported in Riyadh, among both patients and health workers.

According to the WHO, by the end of May 2017, a total of 1,980 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, including 720 deaths were reported globally. The case-fatality rate was 36.4%.

Saudi Arabia is the host to the majority of these cases. As of today there have been 1,634 cases since 2012. That includes 672 deaths, and 14 cases under treatment. The case-fatality rate in Saudi Arabia is 41.1%.

Bats harbor myriad coronaviruses

In a study that has implications for future MERS-CoV research, scientists working on three continents over the past 5 years have found that bats constitute 98% of the animals found to harbor coronaviruses. The results were published today in Virus Evolution.

Scientists collected samples from 19,192 bats, rodents, non-human primates, and humans, to understand transmission of coronaviruses, which include SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus and MERS-CoV. Areas with high bat populations had a wider diversity of detectable coronaviruses.

The authors estimate there are 3,204 coronaviruses in bats, and concluded, "Viral richness was strongly correlated with bat richness, suggesting that most CoVs will be found in regions where bat diversity is highest."



 Saudi Arabia registers 35 Mers-CoV cases [Khaleej Times, 11 Jun 2017]

The country has registered 1,577 cases since 2012, including 672 deaths

Saudi Arabia registered 35 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) corona virus cases in 15 days, of which 28 developed the infection at health facilities, officials said on Sunday.

Although the Mers corona virus cases are not anymore considered a high health risk like before, the infection could be fatal for those with poor health or chronic diseases, Xinhua news agency reported.

The country has registered 1,577 cases since 2012, including 672 deaths.

Infection control consultant Mohammed Abdulrahman highlighted the need for more awareness on infection control measures at health facilities as most of the new cases could have been prevented.

He urged the elderly to avoid visiting patients at hospitals or be directly associated with camels which are the main source of the virus, because of their weak immune systems.



 MERS: Saudi Arabia reported 6 fatal cases, United Arab Emirates and Qatar report cases [Outbreak News Today, 8 Jun 2017]

by ROBERT HERRIMAN

Middle-East-map.gif


According to a World Health Organization outbreak update published Tuesday, for the five weeks from Apr. 21 through May 29, Saudi Arabia reported an additional 25 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection cases, including six fatalities.

Twelve of the 25 reported cases during this time period were associated with three simultaneous, yet unrelated clusters of MERS cases in Bisha city, Riyadh city and Wadi Aldwaser city.

In addition to the Saudi Arabia cases, two additional cases were reported in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one in Qatar.

On 16 May 2017, two cases of MERS-CoV infection were reported in the United Arab Emirates.

Both cases were reported from Al Ain city and both have reported direct links to dromedary camels. The first case that was identified, a 69-year-old male farmer, is in critical condition in hospital and the second case, a 45-year-old male butcher, is asymptomatic and identified during contact tracing of the first case. Contact tracing and dromedary investigations are ongoing.

On 23 May 2017, one case of MERS-CoV infection was reported in Qatar. The case, a 29 year old male from Doha has reported frequent contact with dromedary camels. The Department of Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control in the Ministry of Public Health and animal health resources are currently carrying out case investigation and contact tracing.

Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1980 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 699 related deaths have been reported.



 Saudi Arabia probing several hospital MERS clusters in Riyadh [CIDRAP, 8 Jun 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring |

hospital_monitor.jpg


Saudi Arabia is battling several small unrelated clusters of hospital-related MERS-CoV infections in the capital city of Riyadh, an official with the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed today, as the country's health ministry reported five new cases in the city.

Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, an epidemiologist who is the WHO's technical lead for MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), the cases are from different Riyadh hospitals. She added that Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) is conducting extensive contact tracing, which includes testing high-risk contacts, even if they don't have symptoms.

Riyadh 1 of 3 cities experiencing clusters

In the month of June, the Saudi MOH has reported 25 MERS cases in Riyadh, 21 with clear links to healthcare settings. The group includes healthcare workers and patients, most of whom have asymptomatic infections. Sources of the clusters are still under investigation. Reports this month also include a case involving primary exposure and another with camel exposure.

A clearer picture of the situation in Riyadh follows an announcement 2 days ago from the WHO about three small hospital clusters in Saudi Arabia with cases reported between Apr 21 and
May 29, including one in Riyadh. The WHO alluded to five cases in the Riyadh cluster: four noted in its latest statement plus the index case-patient, whose illness was described in an earlier report.

Two other hospital clusters—one in Bisha and the other in Wadi ad-Dawasir—aren't connected to each other or to the Riyadh cluster, the WHO said.

Though MERS-CoV doesn't spread easily from person to person, in hospital settings the virus can lead to multiple secondary cases and can fuel large outbreaks, such as one at a hospital in Riyadh in 2015 that sickened more than 100 people. An outbreak in South Korea in 2015 led to 186 infections in 17 different health facilities.

MERS total likely to grow

Van Kerkhove, who was part of several joint WHO missions to Saudi Arabia and South Korea to probe hospital outbreaks and other issues related to MERS-CoV, said the high number of asymptomatic cases reflects the country's policy of testing high-risk contacts.

Another policy is to place asymptomatic health workers and household contacts with lab-confirmed infections in home isolation to limit onward transmission, she said, adding that symptomatic patients are isolated in the hospital.

Saudi health officials are currently investigating the extent of infection among contacts, the source of infection for each cluster, and any potential links between hospitals, according to Van Kerkhove.

"These investigations are ongoing, and I do expect more cases will be identified, but we have no indication of a change in the epidemiology or virus or any sustained human-to-human transmission," she said. Also, she added that affected hospitals have enhanced their infection prevention and control measures.

Saudi Arabian officials have been open and transparent regarding their actions and interim findings, Van Kerkhove added.

Five new cases today

The five new Riyadh cases reported by the Saudi MOH today include three healthcare workers and two hospital patients. All are healthcare-related infections. Four, however, are asymptomatic.

All the patients are foreigners living in Riyadh, and all are in stable condition.

The health workers are two women, ages 30 and 31, and a man, age 25. He is the only patient exhibiting symptoms. The patients are 58-year-old and 48-year-old men.

The new MERS cases raise the country's total since the outbreak began in 2012 to 1,628, including 671 deaths. Ten patients are still receiving treatment.



 WHO reports 3 Saudi hospital MERS clusters, new cases in UAE, Qatar [CIDRAP, 7 Jun 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring |

oxygenation.jpg


The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday provided new details about three unrelated hospital MERS-CoV outbreaks that as of May 29 had infected 12 people, and Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today announced five more cases, including at least four tied to the hospital cluster in Riyadh.

In its overview of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases, the WHO also noted what appear to be three new cases in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, all of which involved direct links to camels.

Hospital cluster details

The 12 cases linked to the three hospital outbreaks are part of 25 MERS cases that Saudi Arabia reported to the WHO between Apr 21 and May 29. Four patients are healthcare workers, one from Bisha and three from Riyadh. Six of the 25 illnesses were fatal.

The hospital events have occurred simultaneously and aren't related to each other, and the WHO added that Saudi Arabia's MOH is probing each cases and taking steps to curb further human-to-human transmission.

The first hospital cluster involves a facility in Bisha, a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia. The index patient was a 71-year-old man who died from his infection in early May. Following the case, two secondary healthcare contacts were reported, two men ages 54 and 57.

A hospital in the city of Riyadh is the setting for the second cluster, where the first known patient is a 55-year-old man who was ill during the first half of May and died. Four secondary cases were identified in the middle of May, two men ages 33 and 38 and two women ages 30 and 25.

In April, a MERS-CoV cluster at a hospital in the city of Wadi ad-Dawasir, located in south central Saudi Arabia. The WHO said the outbreak is thought to be over, based on the follow-up period of the contacts. Five illnesses are linked to the cluster; the first case—involving a 55-year-old man—was already reported by the WHO on Apr 27. Today's statement adds four secondary cases: two household contacts (men ages 50 and 58) and two healthcare contacts (men ages 31 and 26).

Five new Saudi cases

In a related development, the Saudi MOH today reported five new MERS cases, all from Riyadh, at least four of them likely linked to the hospital outbreak.

One of the cases is listed as a 35-year-old Saudi woman who is an asymptomatic household contact of a patient infected with MERS-CoV.

The other four were infected in a heathcare setting; three as healthcare workers and one as a patient. All of the healthcare workers are expats, and only one of them has symptoms, a 42-year-old woman who is listed in stable condition. The others are a 45-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man.

The patient who contracted MERS-CoV in the hospital is a 57-year-old Saudi woman who has an asymptomatic infection.

The latest cases raise Saudi Arabia's overall MERS-CoV total to 1,627, including 671 deaths.

Nine people are still being treated for their infections.

UAE and Qatar cases

Both the UAE and Qatar reported MERS-CoV cases over the past several weeks, but the cases reported by the WHO today appear to be new ones.

A pair of infections reported by the UAE involve men from the city of Al Ain who had direct links with camels. One is a 69-year-old farmer who is hospitalized in critical condition, and the other is a 45-year-old butcher whose asymptomatic illness was found during contact tracing following the first case.

The WHO said more contact tracing and investigations in dromedary camels are under way.

Meanwhile, Qatar's case-patient is a 29-year-old man from Doha who has had frequent contact with camels. According to the WHO, the country's health ministry and animal health officials are conducting investigations.

Since September 2012, when the virus was first detected in humans, the WHO has received reports of 1,980 cases and at least 699 deaths.



 Three Saudi hospitals report MERS outbreaks since April, WHO says [Reuters, 6 Jun 2017]

Three Saudi hospitals have reported outbreaks of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) since April 21, with 12 people catching the potentially deadly disease from infected patients who later died, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The hospitals were in the capital Riyadh, in Bisha city, and in Wadi al-Dawasir in Riyadh province, the same town that reported a MERS hospital outbreak in April, although the WHO did not say if the new outbreak was related to that.

MERS is thought to be carried by camels and comes from the same family as the coronavirus that caused China's deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.

The WHO said two men in the United Arab Emirates and one man in Qatar also caught the disease last month after contact with camels, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,980 since September 2012, with at least 699 deaths.

Most of the known human-to-human transmission has occurred in healthcare settings, and the WHO has previously said hospitals and medical workers should take stringent precautions as standard to stop the disease spreading.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who steps down on June 30, has criticized Saudi Arabia for allowing MERS to spread in its hospitals, and the WHO has suggested developing a vaccine for camels may be part of the solution.

Last year the failure to spot MERS in a patient in a vascular surgery ward in Saudi Arabia led to more than 49 other people being exposed to the disease.

Although most cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia, a man who had traveled in the Gulf triggered a major outbreak in South Korea in mid-2015, causing 186 cases within two months.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Louise Ireland)



 2 years after MERS, Korea still struggles with public health system [Korea Biomedical Review, 25 May 2017]

By Choi Gwang-seok

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Panel members discuss how to improve public health system during a symposium held on the occasion of the second anniversary of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, at Seoul National University Cancer Research Institute Wednesday.

Two years have passed since the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) threw Koreans into the fear of infectious disease, but Korea’s public health system remains fragile.

Although the government has made some improvements, the country has a long way to go before completing infectious disease-related governance by, for instance, training public health experts and supporting research activities.

These were the prevailing sentiments at a symposium Wednesday to discuss possible reforms in infectious diseases management systems, jointly organized by the Korean Society for Preventive Medicine and the Korean Society of Epidemiology at the Seoul National University Cancer Research Institute.

“We should never forget the lessons we learned from the outbreak and work toward solving problems such as improving the infectious disease management governance system and nurturing public health professionals,” said Kim Hye-kyung김혜경, head of Suwon Public Health Office.

Noting that Korea could learn about the problems and limitations of its public health system through the MERS outbreak, Kim said, “We lacked the proper human resources and organizational structure because we had focused only on the projects carried out by the public health system. We operated a national welfare policy that lacked concentration on the public health system compared to the medical system.”

Kim added that Korea has yet to distinguish the difference between public health and medical care, saying, “We did not understand the importance of public health professionals and their required capabilities.”

The country was not aware of the importance of preparedness concerning infectious diseases on a regular basis due to the lack of interest in the field, Kim said, adding that Korea has begun to recognize the importance of crises preparedness and response only after suffering from the massive losses in the aftermath of MERS.

However, Kim criticized that problems remain although two years have passed since, and systemic improvements that reflect the voices of those in the field should still be made.

In this regard, Kim suggested creating a governance system of central and provincial governments, strengthening the provincial infectious disease management organizations, and implementing systematic training of public health experts.

The provincial government should take responsibility for field command, and the central government should act as the supporter and controller of their efforts, Kim said. The central government should begin to trust local governments, considering that infectious diseases occur mainly in those regions and because the local administrative capacity has improved significantly since 20 years of autonomy.

Other participants at the symposium raised the need for systematic training of public health professionals and support for research on infectious diseases.

Professor Lee Hee-young이희영 of Bundang Seoul National University Hospital분당서울대병원 said,

"We cannot increase our skills without practical experience. The government should fund researchers to go abroad and participate in research on infectious diseases such as Ebola.”

"If we send out public health experts overseas and conduct research on infectious diseases in other regions, we will be able to contribute to the improvement of our country's infectious disease research and coping ability," he added.

Some argue that Korea’s biggest problem in dealing with the infectious disease is governance related, raising the opinion for the Ministry of Health and Welfare to become an independent organization.

"In 2002, the number of health care workers accounted for 40.7 percent of the public officials in the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In 2013, the number decreased to 31 percent, while the number of civil servants in the social welfare sector, and their budget, has steadily increased," said Professor Park Eun-cheol박은철 of Yonsei University College of Medicine.

“Many of the policies we deal with can be efficiently processed by the ministry alone, and there is no significant challenge in the ministry operating as an independent agency,” Park added.

Noting that 61.8 percent OECD countries are separating health and welfare from the central ministry, "Korea should also ensure professionalism by changing the Ministry of Health and Welfare to the Ministry of Health,” he said.

He also commented on the rumor that the current government is pursuing a multi-loan system, saying that although it is not the best solution as separating the ministry into an independent organization, it will be a partial settlement of the problem.

Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 8 till 16 June 2017



 Mutations identified that enable human transmission of avian flu [News-Medical.net, 16 June 2017]

By Kate Bass, BSc

image.axd.jpg
 Credit: Nixx Photography/Shutterstock.com

A systematic mutation analysis has shown that changes in just three amino acids of the avian influenza H7N9 virus receptor binding protein confers specificity for human cells.

H7N9 is a strain of influenza virus that usually only infects birds. However, in 2013 a human flu outbreak was found to be caused by H7N9 acquired from poultry markets. Although the virus had gained the ability to infect humans, it did not acquire human specificity and so could not transfer between humans. Consequently, closure of the poultry markets stopped the outbreak.

The unprecedented incidence of the flu virus being transmitted to humans from infected poultry raised concerns that the virus may be adapting to a human host. To assess this risk, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute, California assessed which mutations in the H7N9 DNA could allow it to gain human specificity.

The protein on the surface of the flu virus that allows it to attach to host cells is called haemagglutanin and there are several subtypes of this protein (H1 to H16). Typically, only H1, H2 and H3 have been found in flu viruses infecting humans.

Avian flu strains produce H7 that confers binding specificity for birds. Researchers therefore looked for mutations in the DNA of the avian flu virus encoding H7 that would result in a haemagglutanin similar to H1, H2 or H3 being produced. Such mutations would allow H7 to bind to human cells. If the avian flu virus acquired human specificity, it would be able to spread between humans in the same way as human flu strains, which have caused serious pandemics in the past.

Study of the structure of different haemagglutanin subtypes and application of molecular modelling techniques, allowed the team to determine which mutations had the potential to change the H7 amino acid sequence in such as way that the protein would become human specific. They then produced a range of haemagglutanin proteins with different combinations of these identified mutations. The specificity of the engineered haemagglutanins was assessed in an experimental cell line.

Binding tests showed that several forms of haemagglutanin with mutations in three amino acids had a particularly strong affinity for human receptors. This indicated that the H7 specificity had switched from bird cells to human cells as a result of these mutations.

H7 haemagglutinins with the three amino acid changes were also shown to successfully attach to cells in samples of human trachea tissue as was seen in the 2013 outbreak.

In the interest of safety (to avoid the obvious dangers of creating human-specific H7N9 viruses) the team cannot introduce DNA with the triple mutation into H7N9 viruses. The transmission of the mutated virus between animals cannot therefore be tested directly.

However, since the potentially dangerous mutations have now been identified scientists can monitor samples from humans infected with H7N9 for the switch in specificity. Identifying avian flu strains that are likely to have the ability to transfer between humans will allow preventative actions to be taken before a pandemic arises.
Sources:

・de Vries RP, Peng W, Grant OC, Thompson AJ, Zhu X, Bouwman KM, et al. (2017) Three mutations switch H7N9 influenza to human-type receptor specificity. PLoS Pathog 13(6): e1006390. Available at http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1006390

・PLOS Pathogens news release 15 June 2017. Available at https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/p-sim060717.php



 Avian Flu Fast Facts [ErieTVNews, 16 June 2017]

(CNN) -- Here's a look at avian flu.

Avian influenza, also called avian flu or bird flu, is an illness that usually affects only birds.

The official name for the most commonly seen and most deadly form of the virus is called "Influenza A (H5N1)," or the "H5N1 virus."

People have killed hundreds of millions of birds around the world in an attempt to control the spread of the avian flu.

There are many different strains of avian flu: 16 H subtypes and 9 N subtypes. Only those labeled H5, H7 and H10 have caused deaths in humans.

Diagnosis/Treatment:

Most cases of human bird flu infections are due to contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions: saliva, nasal secretions and feces.

The CDC recommends oral oseltamivir (brand name: Tamiflu), inhaled zanamivir (brand name: Relenza) and intravenous permavir (brand name: Rapivab) for the treatment of human illness associated with avian flu. As strains and lineages of the Avian Influenza viruses continue to change, monitoring for the best treatments are ongoing.

Symptoms of avian flu include fever, cough, sore throat and sometimes severe respiratory diseases and pneumonia.

The mortality rate is nearly 60% for infected humans.

Timeline:

Early 1900s -The avian flu is first identified in Italy.

1961 - The H5N1 strain is first isolated in birds in South Africa.

December 1983 - Chickens in Pennsylvania and Virginia are exposed to the avian flu, and more than five million birds are killed to stop the disease from spreading.

May 1997 - Eighteen people are infected by the H5N1 strain in Hong Kong, and six die. These are the first documented cases of human infection. Hong Kong destroys its entire poultry population (1.5 million birds) in three days.

1999 - Two children in Hong Kong are infected by the H9N2 strain.

February 2003 - Eighty-four people in the Netherlands are affected by the H7N7 strain of the virus, and one dies.

February 2, 2004 - The World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating possible human-to-human transmission among a family in Vietnam. Three family members have died of the illness, and one has recovered. One member had no contact with infected poultry while the others did.

February 7, 2004 - Twelve thousand chickens are slaughtered in Kent County, Delaware, after they are found to be infected with the H7 virus.

February 23, 2004 - A flock of 6,600 broiler chickens in Gonzalez County, Texas, is destroyed after being diagnosed with an "extremely infectious and fatal" form of bird flu, the H5N2 strain.

February 5, 2005 - The Cambodian Health Ministry and WHO confirm the first human death in Cambodia (the H1N1 strain, on January 30, 2005).

October 7, 2005 - The avian flu reaches Europe. Romanian officials quarantine a village of about 30 people after three dead ducks there test positive for bird flu.

November 12, 2005 - A one-year-old boy in Thailand tests positive for the lethal H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

November 16, 2005 - WHO confirms two human cases of bird flu in China, including a female poultry worker who died from the H5N1 strain.

November 17, 2005 - Two deaths are confirmed in Indonesia from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

January 1, 2006 - A Turkish teenager dies of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Istanbul, and later that week, two of his sisters follow.

January 17, 2006 - A 15-year-old girl from northern Iraq dies after contracting bird flu.

February 20, 2006 - The French Health Ministry confirms that a duck in central France had the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

February 20, 2006 - Vietnam becomes the first country to successfully contain the disease. A country is considered disease-free when no new cases are reported in 21 days.

March 12, 2006 - Officials in Cameroon confirm cases of the H5N1 strain. The avian flu has now reached four African countries.

March 13, 2006 - The avian flu is confirmed by officials in Myanmar (Burma).

May 11, 2006 - Djibouti announces its first cases of H5N1 - several birds and one human.

December 20, 2011 - The US Department of Health and Human Services releases a statement saying that the government is urging scientific journals to omit details from research they intend to publish on the transfer of H5N1 among mammals. There is concern that the information could be misused by terrorists.

July 31, 2012 - Scientists announce that H3N8, a new strain of avian flu, caused the death of more than 160 baby seals in New England in 2011.

March 2013 - The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that two people in China have died after falling ill with a strain of bird flu, H7N9, not detected before in humans.

December 6, 2013 - A 73-year-old woman infected with H10N8 dies in China, the first human fatality from this strain.

January 8, 2014 - Canadian health officials confirm that a resident from Alberta has died from H5N1 avian flu, the first case of the virus in North America. It is also the first case of H5N1 infection ever imported by a traveler into a country where the virus is not present in poultry.

April 20, 2015 - Officials say more than five million hens will be euthanized after bird flu was detected at a commercial laying facility in northwest Iowa. According to the US Department of Agriculture, close to eight million cases of bird flu have been detected in 13 states since December. Health officials say there is little to no risk for transmission to humans with respect to H5N2. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

January 15, 2016 - The US Department of Agriculture confirms that a commercial turkey farm in Dubois County, Indiana, has tested positive for the H7N8 strain of avian influenza.

January 24, 2017 - Britain's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs release a statement confirming that a case of H5N8 avian flu has been detected in a flock of farmed breeding pheasants in Preston, UK. The flock is estimated to contain around 10,000 birds. The statement adds that a number of those birds have died, and the remaining live birds at the premises are being "humanely" killed because of disease.

February 12, 2017 - A number of provinces in China have shut down their live poultry markets to prevent the spread of avian flu after a surge in the number of infections from the H7N9 strain. At least six provinces have reported human cases of H7N9 influenza this year, according to Chinese state media, Xinhua.

March 5-7, 2017 - The USDA confirms that a commercial chicken farm in Tennessee has tested positive for the H7N9 strain of avian flu, but says it is genetically different from the H7N9 lineage out of China. The 73,500-bird flock in Lincoln County will be euthanized, according to Tyson Foods.

May 20, 2017 - The Center for Health Protection in Hong Kong reports there have been 697 new cases of human infection from avian influenza A (H7N9) since October 2016 in mainland China.

May 24, 2017 - Since February of 2013 there have been 1,525 confirmed human cases and 579 deaths from the H7N9 strain of avian flu, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.



 Scientists make H7N9 mutations discovery [vet times, 16 June 2017]

by David Woodmansey

June16_avian-flu_Fotolia-5second_MAIN-350x233.jpg
H7N9 is not capable of spreading sustainably from human to human, but scientists are concerned it could mutate to do so. IMAGE: Fotolia/5second.

An international team of scientists has identified several genetic mutations that could, should they arise, potentially allow the avian influenza strain H7N9 to cross the species barrier and spread between humans.

H7N9 is not capable of spreading sustainably from human to human, but scientists are concerned it could mutate to do so. IMAGE: Fotolia/5second.

H7N9 is a strain of flu virus that normally infects birds, but has spread to at least 779 humans in a number of outbreaks related to poultry markets.

The virus is not capable of spreading sustainably from human to human, but scientists are concerned it could potentially mutate into a form that can.

To investigate this possibility, James Paulson and colleagues from the Scripps Research Institute in California, US analysed mutations that could occur in H7N9’s genome.

Virus proteins

In flu strains that circulate in avian viruses, different subtypes exist of a protein called haemagglutinin, ranging from H1 to H16. So far, three subtypes have been found in human flu viruses – H1, H2 and H3.

In this research, efforts were focused on a gene that codes for H7, which is found on the surface of flu viruses and allows them to latch on to host cells.

As with other avian flu viruses, H7N9 is specific for receptors on bird cells, but not receptors on human cells. However, a transition to human specificity could enable H7N9 to circulate among humans, just like other human flu strains that have caused pandemics in the past.

Molecular modelling

Using molecular modelling and knowledge of haemagglutinin’s structure, the team identified mutations that would change the protein’s amino acid sequence, causing a switch to human specificity.

They then produced the haemagglutinin with different combinations of these mutations in an experimental cell line, as testing the mutations in H7N9 viruses themselves can be dangerous.

From these cells, scientists harvested the mutant haemagglutinin proteins, and tested how strongly they bound to human-type and bird-type receptors.

It was found several forms with mutations in three amino acids bound far more strongly to human receptors, which meant they had switched specificity from bird to human. The triple-mutant H7 haemagglutinins also successfully latched on to cells in samples of human trachea tissue.

Safety regulations

Safety regulations prohibit introducing these mutations to actual H7N9 viruses, limiting scientists’ ability to test their effects in animals.

Nonetheless, the research team suggests keeping an eye out for the development of these mutations in humans infected with H7N9 could help trigger a timely response to prevent potential spread.

Their findings are published in PLOS Pathogens.☞ Three mutations switch H7N9 influenza  



 Scientists find mutations that may help bird flu jump to humans [Cosmos, 16 June 2017]

Three amino acids in a single protein are all that stand between us and an avian influenza epidemic, writes Andrew Masterson.

Contrib_AndrewMasterson.jpg
ANDREW MASTERSON is an author and journalist based in Melbourne, Australia.

In May the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed 26 cases of avian influenza in humans.
The cases all stemmed from China, and while most were people who had been in contact with live poultry, two were not.

It is those last two cases that set off alarm bells for public health authorities around the world, because it is possible they contracted the virus – known as H7N9 – from another human.

At present, few cases of human-to-human H7N9 transmission have ever been recorded, and the position of the WHO authorities is that the virus is currently incapable of sustained transmission between people. The very real possibility that it might at some point acquire a mutation that enables easy person-to-person spread is, however, the stuff of epidemiological nightmares.

Understanding exactly how that might happen is now a significant step closer thanks to investigations carried out at The Scripps Research Institute in California, US, and published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

A team of scientists led by James Paulson looked at mutations that could occur in the genome of H7N9. In particular, they looked at a protein called hemagglutanin, which is found on the surface of all influenza viruses and is known to play a key role in facilitating entry into host cells.

There are several different subtypes of influenza hemagglutanin, numbered H1 to H16. Each has a specific amino acid sequence that allows it to bind to receptors on particular types of cells. Human influenza viruses, for instance, have so far all been found to have hemagglutanin sequences H1, H2 and H3.

In contrast, avian flu viruses have sequences that bind primarily to bird cells. To become capable of person-to-person spread these would have to change structure to allow strong attachment to human tissue.

To see whether this was possible, Paulson and colleagues cultured hemagglutanin in an experimental cell line, identifying and propagating amino acid mutations in the process.

They discovered several different combinations of three amino acid changes that altered the hemagglutanin’s specificity from bird to human cells. A second experiment revealed the mutated protein was capable of latching onto human trachea tissue.

Further experiments, using animals to test how inducing the changes affected H7N9 virulence, were not possible, because safety regulations prohibit inducing such change in actual flu viruses.

Nevertheless, the scientists recommend checking future laboratory-confirmed human avian flu cases to see if any such mutations have occurred in the virus’s hemagglutanin coating.

If it has, they say, it could provide an early warning that the nightmare potential of avian flu is on the brink of being realised.



 A Few Genetic Tweaks To Chinese Bird Flu Virus Could Fuel A Human Pandemic [KUCB, 15 June 2017]

By NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE

A study published Thursday shows how a bird flu virus that's sickening and killing people in China could mutate to potentially become more contagious.

Just three changes could be enough to do the trick, scientists report in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

And the news comes just as federal officials are getting ready to lift a moratorium on controversial lab experiments that would deliberately create flu viruses with mutations like these.

Public health officials have been worried about this bird flu virus, called H7N9, because it's known to have infected more than 1,500 people — and killed 40 percent of them. So far, unlike other strains that more commonly infect humans, this deadly virus does not spread easily between people.

The fear is that if it mutates in a way that lets it spread more easily, the virus will sweep around the globe and take a heavy toll, because people's immune systems haven't ever been exposed to this type of flu before. Past pandemics caused by novel flu viruses jumping from animals or birds into people have killed millions.

"As scientists we're interested in how the virus works," says Jim Paulson, a biologist at The Scripps Research Institute. "We're trying to just understand the virus so that we can be prepared."

That's why he and his colleagues recently tinkered with a piece of the H7N9 flu — a protein that lets the virus latch onto cells. It's thought to be important for determining which species the virus can infect.

"So it's not the whole virus," says Paulson. "It's just a piece — just a fragment — that we can then study for its properties."

What they studied is how different changes affected the virus' ability to bind to receptors found on the surface of human cells.

It turns out that three small mutations made the fragment bind far more strongly to receptors found on human cells than to receptors from bird cells. Scientists know, from studying strains that led to past pandemics, that this kind of switch appears to be involved in enabling a bird flu virus to become transmissible between people.

"All we've done is to look at one of the properties that we're pretty certain is important," says
Paulson, who cautions that additional genetic mutations might be necessary for this virus to become more contagious in humans. "So, just because we've changed the one property doesn't mean that that property alone is sufficient to let the virus transmit."

One way of finding out would be to test the effect of these mutations in the actual H7N9 virus.

And he and a colleague did put in a proposal to the National Institutes of Health to modify the virus to explore what changes could make it transmissible among lab animals.

"And then the moratorium came out and so it wasn't reviewed," says Paulson.

That unusual moratorium, announced by the White House in 2014, halted federally funded research that might make flu viruses more dangerous.

It came after more than two years of debate among scientists about whether these experiments are too risky. Critics argue that the information gained isn't worth the possibility that a lab-created mutant flu might escape the lab, either by accident or because someone intentionally used it as a bioweapon. They argue that scientists shouldn't be in the business of taking deadly viruses and making them even worse.

"These are all legitimate concerns, in my view," says Paulson. Because of those concerns, he now wants to test these genetic changes — not in the H7N9 virus itself, but rather in a weakened strain of flu that can move from ferret to ferret, the lab stand-in for people in flu studies.

And it probably won't be long before he can propose such an experiment to the NIH, because the Department of Health and Human Services is almost finished with drafting a new policy that spells out how officials will review this type of flu experiment in the future.

"As soon as that policy is finalized, the moratorium will be lifted and NIH will move forward in concordance with that new policy. Our expectation is it will be very soon," says Carrie Wolinetz, acting chief of staff and associate director for science policy at the NIH. "We want to make sure that there is an appropriate level of review to seriously consider the balance of that benefit/risk equation in a way that allows us move forward responsibly."

One scientist who's been critical of deliberately creating potential pandemic pathogens is David
Relman, a biologist at Stanford. If a scientist wanted to test the effect of these recently-identified mutations in a weakened lab strain of flu, he says, "I would be much more accepting of that kind of experiment."

But if researchers wanted to make these genetic changes in the actual H7N9 virus, he says, "I would be very hesitant, were they to want to do that. In fact, I would be reluctant to have them do that."

Relman notes that a policy guidance released in the last days of the Obama administration says work that could create a highly virulent, highly transmissible virus requires special scrutiny.

"Now, the part I don't agree with," he says, "is they don't come right out and say, 'Let's not do that."

Other researchers, like Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, who receives NIH funding, have publicly argued for the need to modify H7N9 in the lab to see exactly what this virus might be capable of. They believe such research is essential to truly understand the threat.

"The rest of the world is moving forward with this type of experiment already," says Fouchier, whose genetic experiments with a different bird flu virus sparked a public outcry in 2011.

"And so the U. S. can either join or not join. It's up to them, but the work will continue," he says.

"I'm pretty sure that the U. S. government will start funding this research again," Fouchier says, "because this is clearly important work. In the flu field, this is one of the most important questions to be addressed: How do we identify, among thousands of viruses that cause outbreaks, those viruses that are going to cause the next pandemic?"

He's hoping to learn more about how officials will handle all this when a network of federally funded flu researchers meets next month in Atlanta.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Public health officials are increasingly worried about a strain of bird flu virus that's circulating in China. In the last nine months it's sickened more than 700 people, and about 40 percent of them died. Now a team of researchers from the U.S. and the Netherlands has new information on what might cause this virus to start spreading more widely. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: Right now people seem to get the H7N9 bird flu virus from, well, birds. It isn't capable of spreading from person to person to person to person. But what if that changed?

JAMES PAULSON: We're trying to just understand the virus so that we can be prepared.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Jim Paulson is a biologist at the Scripps Research Institute. He and some colleagues recently tinkered with a piece of this bird flu, a protein that lets the virus latch on to cells.

PAULSON: So it's not the whole virus. It's just a fragment that we can then study for its properties.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: They found that it only takes three little changes to make this protein capable of hooking on to human cells. That could help the virus start spreading between people, although Paulson cautions that other changes might be necessary.

PAULSON: There may be several other genes that are important for transmission that we don't know about.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Now, one way of finding out would be to make those three changes in the actual virus in a highly secure lab and see what happens. Does it become contagious in lab animals? Well, scientists like Paulson can't do that experiment because in 2014 the Obama administration stopped all federally funded work that might make flu viruses more dangerous.

That's because critics argued that scientists shouldn't be in the business of deliberately making deadly flu viruses even worse. What if a lab-made virus escaped or got stolen for use as a bioweapon?

PAULSON: I admit that - you know, that some people have real reservations about it. I mean, these are all legitimate concerns, in my view.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: That's why Paulson wants to test these mutations not in the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus itself but rather in a weakened flu virus. And that may soon be possible.

Government officials are drafting a new system for how they'll review flu experiments to decide what can go forward. Carrie Wolinetz is associate director for science policy at the National Institutes of Health, which funds flu research. She says once that policy is finished the moratorium will be lifted.

CARRIE WOLINETZ: Our expectation is it will be very soon.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: It's not clear what exactly will be permitted under the new policy. And after years of debate, it seems like scientists still have reached no consensus on how to balance the risks and the benefits. David Relman is a biologist at Stanford University. He'd be OK with putting these mutations in a weakened virus, but putting them in the H7N9 virus...

DAVID RELMAN: I would be very hesitant to see them do that experiment and try it out.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Other scientists say we have to experiment with H7N9. Ron Fouchier is a virologist at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands who studies flu with U.S. funding. He says at the end of the day you need to alter the real flu virus you're worried about to know what it's really capable of. He thinks U.S. officials will agree. But even if they don't...

RON FOUCHIER: The rest of the world is moving forward with this type of experiment already. And so the U.S. can either join or not join. It's up to them. But the work will continue.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: He hopes that officials will reveal more about their plans when federally funded flu researchers meet next month in Atlanta. Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF COLD CAVE SONG, "LOVE COMES CLOSE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.



 Changes to bird flu virus could make human transmission more likely, scientists say [STAT, 15 June 2017]

By HELEN BRANSWELL

GettyImages-477718693-2048x1152.jpg
MARK RALSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The H7N9 bird flu virus has influenza scientists on edge, due to an unexpected surge of human infections — hundreds of cases — caused by the virus this spring.

Some new scientific findings aren’t likely to ratchet down those concerns.

Scientists at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, Calif., reported Thursday that the accumulation of several mutations in the main gene on the virus’s surface may be able to give H7N9 the ability to spread like human flu viruses do, passing from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

Currently H7N9 is a poultry virus, infecting chickens and some other birds in China. Nearly 1,500 people are known to have contracted the virus from contact with chickens since the virus first emerged in 2013, but to date H7N9 hasn’t spread easily among humans.

Other scientists lauded the work, but everyone, including the scientists behind the new research, cautioned that just because something can be done in a laboratory doesn’t mean it will come to pass in nature.

“We take these kinds of things seriously. But historically we know that it is never as simple as that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“So we’ve got to be careful that we separate the elegance of the science and the likelihood or not … and [what] the ultimate effect of something like this would be. Because it is a very complicated issue. And just to reduce it to one mutation or two mutations and then all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a pandemic is a bit of an overreach.”

Fauci wasn’t suggesting the Scripps team made that claim; it didn’t.

Rather, the team found that two different combinations of mutations — each made up of three changes — could in theory profoundly alter the H7N9 virus.

Flu viruses attach to receptors found on the cells of their intended victims. Bird flu viruses attach to one type of receptor. The cells found in the human upper respiratory tract — where a flu infection takes hold — are mostly lined with a different type of receptor, which explains why these viruses don’t easily infect people.

The Scripps team, however, found that by tweaking the genetic code of H7N9’s hemagglutinin gene, they could change the receptors the virus latched on to, from the bird type to the human version.

The proteins made by the two modified hemagglutinin genes attached as well to human receptors as the human virus H1N1, which caused the 2009 flu pandemic, noted Ron Fouchier, a leading influenza virologist from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Fouchier, who has done work trying to see how H5N1 bird flu viruses could adapt to infect people, was not involved in this study.

The Scripps researchers figured out how to tweak the gene by applying what is known about flu viruses that have successfully been transmitted among people over the last half-century, as well as by studying the crystal structure of the virus. In essence, it was like custom designing a key to fit a lock.

They tried a number of combinations. Two in particular bound very well to the receptors found in human airways.

“Two combinations looked really very good. … Or really bad,” said Jim Paulson, senior author of the paper and co-chairman of Scripps’s department of molecular biology.

His team did the work, though, using only one gene of the eight-gene virus, testing the protein it generates on specially prepared glass slides.

They and others would like to see what would happen if they made these changes to a whole H7N9 virus and then tested it in ferrets, animals which serve as a proxy for people in flu research. Bird flu viruses don’t spread easily from ferret to ferret; if a modified H7N9 virus did, that would suggest it might do the same in people.

But there has been a moratorium in the United States — and among scientists elsewhere funded by U.S. government money — against doing this type of research, known as “gain of function” work or “dual use research of concern.” The latter term relates to research that might be used by malevolent actors to produce a pathogen that could be unleashed as a weapon of bioterrorism.

The moratorium resulted from alarm that arose when Fouchier and a separate team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, tried in 2012 to publish studies that showed mutations that would be needed to the H5N1 hemagglutinin that could render transmissible among people. Those papers were eventually published but the debate over such work was and remains heated.

Fouchier said testing H7N9 viruses including the mutations identified by the Scripps team is at the top of the list of studies he plans to undertake if he can get approval for the work.

“These are the absolute critical viruses to do this with. These are a continuous threat,” he told STAT.

A new U.S. government policy for this type of work — renamed “pathogens of pandemic potential care and oversight” — is in the works. But the funding pause for such research on influenza and a couple of other types of viruses remains in effect, Ryan Bayha, of the National Institute of Health’s Office of Science Policy, said in an email.

Policy guidance from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued in early
January requires the department to conduct independent reviews of grant applications in which this kind of research is proposed. Bayha said the department is still setting up that review process; he could not say when the work is expected to be finished.

For now, researchers who want to test these two combinations of mutations must wait. And that means no one can say for sure if these mutations — if they were to evolve in the real world — would turn H7N9 into a virus that targets people.

“People believe that it’s important and have actually shown in some cases that it is important,” Paulson said. “But until we actually test it, we’re really not sure.”



 Scientists create mutant bird flu to prepare for possibility of deadly global pandemic [The Independent, 15 June 2017]

by Katie Forste

'We need to know what the virus could do in nature, so we can be alert and aware if we start seeing these changes,' says professor

A worker places a chicken in a bin during a cull in Hong Kong in 2014 after the deadly H7N9 virus was discovered in poultry imported from China AFP

Deadly strains of bird flu have so far largely been caught by people who work closely with poultry – but scientists fear the virus could mutate and cause the world’s next devastating pandemic if it begins to spread from human to human.

In a bid to stay one step ahead of the disease and prepare for a potentially disastrous outbreak before it happens, researchers have created their own mutations in a lab that could allow the virus to infiltrate human lungs.

Professor James Paulson of The Scripps Research Institute in California and his team conducted their experiments on a key protein that peppers the surface of the virus and binds to the cells it infects.

The scientists did not alter the virus itself due to the extreme danger posed by such infectious agents, which if unleashed could potentially cause a man-made global pandemic.

"We need to know what the virus could do in nature, so we can be alert and aware if we start seeing these changes," Professor Paulson told The Independent.

"The virus is infecting humans, but it hasn't yet transmitted from human to human."

The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens, described how subtle alterations to the protein's genetic programming produced strains that switched their target from bird to human cells.

The mutant proteins latched onto cells taken from human trachea tissue – suggesting they could infiltrate human airways.

Ducks culled at a farm near Nafferton, East Yorkshire where a strain of bird flu was confirmed in 2014 (Getty)

“H7N9 avian influenza virus is widespread in chickens in China and infects human exposed to live poultry but does not yet transmit from person to person,” said Professor Wendy Barclay,

Chair in Influenza virology at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the research.

”So the question now is, could the virus recapitulate this switch in nature?“

Professor Barclay said the study could help create a vaccine to prevent a deadly outbreak on the scale of historical pandemics such as the Black Death, which killed more than 75 million people in the 14th century.



 Few Genetic Tweaks To Chinese Bird Flu Virus Could Fuel A Human Pandemic [NPR, 15 June 2017]

by NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE

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A sometimes lethal strain of H7N9 bird flu that has infected about 1,500 people in China doesn't spread easily among humans — yet. But research published Thursday suggests just a few genetic mutations might be enough to make it quite contagious.
Pasieka/Science Source

A study published Thursday shows how a bird flu virus that's sickening and killing people in China could mutate to potentially become more contagious.

Just three changes could be enough to do the trick, scientists report in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

And the news comes just as federal officials are getting ready to lift a moratorium on controversial lab experiments that would deliberately create flu viruses with mutations like these.

Public health officials have been worried about this bird flu virus, called H7N9, because it's known to have infected more than 1,500 people — and killed 40 percent of them. So far, unlike other strains that more commonly infect humans, this deadly virus does not spread easily between people.

The fear is that if it mutates in a way that lets it spread more easily, the virus will sweep around the globe and take a heavy toll, because people's immune systems haven't ever been exposed to this type of flu before. Past pandemics caused by novel flu viruses jumping from animals or birds into people have killed millions.

"As scientists we're interested in how the virus works," says Jim Paulson, a biologist at The Scripps Research Institute. "We're trying to just understand the virus so that we can be prepared."

That's why he and his colleagues recently tinkered with a piece of the H7N9 flu — a protein that lets the virus latch onto cells. It's thought to be important for determining which species the virus can infect.

"So it's not the whole virus," says Paulson. "It's just a piece — just a fragment — that we can then study for its properties."

What they studied is how different changes affected the virus' ability to bind to receptors found on the surface of human cells.

It turns out that three small mutations made the fragment bind far more strongly to receptors found on human cells than to receptors from bird cells. Scientists know, from studying strains that led to past pandemics, that this kind of switch appears to be involved in enabling a bird flu virus to become transmissible between people.

"All we've done is to look at one of the properties that we're pretty certain is important," says Paulson, who cautions that additional genetic mutations might be necessary for this virus to become more contagious in humans. "So, just because we've changed the one property doesn't mean that that property alone is sufficient to let the virus transmit."

One way of finding out would be to test the effect of these mutations in the actual H7N9 virus.

And he and a colleague did put in a proposal to the National Institutes of Health to modify the virus to explore what changes could make it transmissible among lab animals.

"And then the moratorium came out and so it wasn't reviewed," says Paulson.

That unusual moratorium, announced by the White House in 2014, halted federally funded research that might make flu viruses more dangerous.

It came after more than two years of debate among scientists about whether these experiments are too risky. Critics argue that the information gained isn't worth the possibility that a lab-created mutant flu might escape the lab, either by accident or because someone intentionally used it as a bioweapon. They argue that scientists shouldn't be in the business of taking deadly viruses and making them even worse.

"These are all legitimate concerns, in my view," says Paulson. Because of those concerns, he now wants to test these genetic changes — not in the H7N9 virus itself, but rather in a weakened strain of flu that can move from ferret to ferret, the lab stand-in for people in flu studies.

And it probably won't be long before he can propose such an experiment to the NIH, because the Department of Health and Human Services is almost finished with drafting a new policy that spells out how officials will review this type of flu experiment in the future.

"As soon as that policy is finalized, the moratorium will be lifted and NIH will move forward in concordance with that new policy. Our expectation is it will be very soon," says Carrie Wolinetz, acting chief of staff and associate director for science policy at the NIH. "We want to make sure that there is an appropriate level of review to seriously consider the balance of that benefit/risk equation in a way that allows us move forward responsibly."

One scientist who's been critical of deliberately creating potential pandemic pathogens is David Relman, a biologist at Stanford. If a scientist wanted to test the effect of these recently-identified mutations in a weakened lab strain of flu, he says, "I would be much more accepting of that kind of experiment."

But if researchers wanted to make these genetic changes in the actual H7N9 virus, he says, "I would be very hesitant, were they to want to do that. In fact, I would be reluctant to have them do that."

Relman notes that a policy guidance released in the last days of the Obama administration says work that could create a highly virulent, highly transmissible virus requires special scrutiny.

"Now, the part I don't agree with," he says, "is they don't come right out and say, 'Let's not do that."

Other researchers, like Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, who receives NIH funding, have publicly argued for the need to modify H7N9 in the lab to see exactly what this virus might be capable of. They believe such research is essential to truly understand the threat.

"The rest of the world is moving forward with this type of experiment already," says Fouchier, whose genetic experiments with a different bird flu virus sparked a public outcry in 2011.

"And so the U. S. can either join or not join. It's up to them, but the work will continue," he says.

"I'm pretty sure that the U. S. government will start funding this research again," Fouchier says, "because this is clearly important work. In the flu field, this is one of the most important questions to be addressed: How do we identify, among thousands of viruses that cause outbreaks, those viruses that are going to cause the next pandemic?"

He's hoping to learn more about how officials will handle all this when a network of federally funded flu researchers meets next month in Atlanta.



 Bird flu could spread more easily among humans through 3 mutations: researchers [CBC.ca, 15 June 2017]

'The chances of all 3 occurring together is relatively low,' one expert says

Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people.

The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds. But it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets.

The World Health Organization said earlier this year that all bird flu viruses need constant monitoring, warning that their constantly changing nature makes them "a persistent and significant threat to public health."

At the moment, the H7N9 virus does not have the capability to spread sustainably from person to person. But scientists are worried it could at any time mutate into a form that does.

To assess this risk, researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the H7N9 virus's genome.

They focused on the H7 hemagglutanin, a protein on the flu virus surface that allows it to latch onto host cells.

The team's findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens on Thursday, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells — suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people.

No cause for immediate alarm

Scientists not directly involved in this study said its findings were important, but should not cause immediate alarm.

"This study will help us to monitor the risk posed by bird flu in a more informed way, and increasing our knowledge of which changes in bird flu viruses could be potentially dangerous will be very useful in surveillance," said Fiona Culley, an expert in respiratory immunology at Imperial College London.

She noted that while "some of the individual mutations have been seen naturally … these combinations of mutations have not," and added: "The chances of all three occurring together is relatively low."

Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist also at Imperial, said the study's findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance.

"These studies keep H7N9 virus high on the list of viruses we should be concerned about," she said. "The more people infected, the higher the chance that the lethal combination of mutations could occur."

China reported 37 human deaths from H7N9 in May, up from 24 in April.



 Study identifies H7N9 mutations that could ease spread among humans [CIDRAP, 15 June 2017]

Researchers looking for mutations that might make H7N9 avian influenza more easily transmissible among people identified three amino acid changes that would make the virus more likely to bind to human airway receptors. A team of researchers from the United States, including those from The Scripps Research Institute, and the Netherlands reported its findings today in PLoS Pathogens.

The scientists focused on mutations that could occur in the H7 hemagglutinin (HA) protein, which allows the virus to latch onto host cells. They didn't test the mutations in H7N9 viruses, because of gain-of-function rules and concerns. Rather, they used molecular modeling and knowledge of the HA structure to flag mutations that have the capacity to make the virus more specific to human, rather than avian, airway receptors. Then they produced an HA with different combinations of the mutations in an experimental cell line (not H7N9) and tested how strongly they bound to human and avian receptors.

The team found that mutations in three amino acids bound more strongly to human receptors, signaling a specificity switch from bird to human types. In another experiment, they found that the H7 mutants also attached to cells from human tracheal tissue.

The researchers concluded that understanding the mutations that might allow the virus to spread more easily in humans is a useful tool for surveillance in poultry and humans, as their identification may serve as an early warning.

"Three mutations switch H7N9 influenza to human-type receptor specificity"
Three mutations  



 DRC, Belgium, Nigeria report more avian flu outbreaks [CIDRAP, 15 June 2017]

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday reported 11 more highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu outbreaks, all in village ducks and chickens in Ituri province, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The location of the latest outbreaks is the same area in the DRC's northeastern corner where H5N8 was initially reported in late May, which signaled the DRC's first outbreaks involving the subtype. Over the past few months H5N8 has turned up in a handful of African nations.

The new events had start dates ranging from May 17 to Jun 3. The virus killed 6,927 of 17,272 susceptible birds, and the survivors were slated for culling.

In other H5N8 developments, Belgium reported three more outbreaks in wild birds, officials said today in an OIE notification. The events began from Jun 13 to Jun 15, affecting locations in Luxembourg, Hainaut, and West Flanders provinces. The virus killed 45 of 101 susceptible birds, and the rest were destroyed as part of the response measures.

The outbreaks follow a Jun 2 report of an outbreak involving a family of birds that includes pheasants and quail.

Elsewhere, Nigeria reported one new H5N1 outbreak in backyard poultry, according to a report today from the OIE. The event began on May 15 in Adamawa state in the east, killing 50 of 200 layers.



 China reports more high-path H7N9 outbreaks in poultry [CIDRAP, 14 June 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring

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In the latest avian flu developments, China reports more highly pathogenic H7N9 outbreaks in three provinces, and South Korea continues to battle a flare-up of H5N8 activity, according to the latest notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

H7N9 outbreaks continue in China

Chinese health officials detailed four outbreaks in two OIE reports. Two occurred in different locations in Inner Mongolia province in the north, one at a large layer farm that began on May 21, killing 35,526 of 406,756 susceptible poultry. The remaining birds were culled to curb the spread of the virus.

The other outbreak began Jun 5 at a poultry farm in Inner Mongolia's Jiuyuan district, which led to the loss of 55,023 birds, including 2,056 that died from the disease.

Officials also reported outbreaks that began in March in two provinces in southern China, including a positive sample from a poultry farm in Guangxi province and a positive sample from a livestock market in Fujian province. The OIE report didn't include details about the number of susceptible birds or populations culled.

Officials detected the highly pathogenic form of H7N9 for the first time in poultry in February, in birds in Guangdong province's live-poultry markets. Since then, the virus has sparked outbreaks at poultry farms in several provinces, including some in northern China.

In a related development, China recently announced that it will begin testing the first vaccine against H7N9 in early July, China Daily reported today. The vaccine, developed by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, will be given to chickens, ducks, and geese in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.

According to the report, the locations were selected because they are major poultry trade centers and have battled both highly pathogenic and low-pathogenic H7N9 viruses.

H5N8 in South Korea, Zimbabwe, Luxembourg

Meanwhile, several more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks were reported by South Korea, with a few more cropping up in Luxembourg and Zimbabwe.

In South Korea, officials reported 16 more outbreaks that began from Jun 3 to Jun 7, all but two involving backyard birds. Affected areas included seven towns in North Jeolla province, four on Jeju island, three in the Ulsan metropolitan area, and one each in South Gyeongsang province and the city of Busan.

Of 2,776 birds at the multiple locations, the virus killed 59, and authorities destroyed the remaining birds as part of the response to the outbreaks.

Details on the other countries reporting more H5N8 detections:

・Luxembourg reported four more outbreaks involving poultry farms in four different cantons, Capellen, Diekirch, Luxembourg, and Mersch, with start dates ranging from May 30 to Jun 2, according to a Jun 9 report to the OIE. The virus killed 76 birds and led to the culling of 787 more.

・Zimbabwe's veterinary ministry said H5N8 spread to two more self-contained units housing 91,000 birds on a broiler farm where the virus was reported for the first time earlier this month, according to a Jun 11 OIE report. The event has now affected three of the facility's eight sites, and officials suspect the virus spread though shared equipment and vehicles. All birds at the two additional sites have been destroyed.

Libya confirms more low-path H7

Elsewhere, Libya reported another low-pathogenic H7 outbreak, this time at a farm in Marj district in the country's northeast, according to an OIE report today.

The farm housed 220 birds, including ducks, geese, pigeons, and egg-laying chickens. The virus was detected during general surveillance. The birds were culled and authorities disinfected the farm.

The H7 detection is the second such event in Libya since the middle of May, when authorities reported a similar finding at a farm in Gharyan district in the northwest.



 Avian flu has been confirmed in chickens in south Norfolk [Smallholder, 11 Jun 2017]

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Free range chickens

The UK’s deputy chief veterinary officer has confirmed H5N8 avian flu in a small flock of chickens and geese at a premises near Diss, South Norfolk.

A three kilometre protection zone and a ten kilometre surveillance zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The flock is estimated to contain approximately 35 birds.

A number have died and the remaining live birds at the premises are being humanely culled.

A full investigation is under way to determine the source of the infection.

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Keepers are urged to continue to be vigilant and look out for the signs of avian flu in their flocks, informing the Animal and Plant Health Agency should they suspect infection.

Read the latest advice and information on avian flu in the UK, including actions to reduce the risk of the disease spreading, advice for anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds and details of previous cases.



 H7N9 avian influenza: 12 more cases reported in China [Outbreak News Today, 10 Jun 2017]

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Influenza A (H7N9) virus/CDC

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission announced an additional 12 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) from June 2 to 8.

The eight male and four female patients, aged from 4 to 68, had onset from May 20 to June 3.

Three of them are from Beijing, two each from Anhui, Chongqing and Henan, and one each from Jiangsu, Shaanxi and Shandong.

Two cases reported in Beijing were likely infected in Hebei and Shanxi while the case reported in Shaanxi was likely infected in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Among them, nine were known to have exposure to poultry, poultry markets or mobile stalls.

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



 Avian Flu Threat Re-emerges [Agri News, 8 Jun 2017]

by Ashley Langreck

Flock-keepers urged to step up biosecurity

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INDIANAPOLIS — After the Indiana poultry industry experienced outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in 2015 and 2016, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health is encouraging producers to watch their flocks closely for symptoms of the illness, as well take precautions to stop another outbreak.

Kyle Shipman, a veterinarian with the BOAH who specializes in avian health and field operations, said that since the outbreak, the industry has continued to be on a heightened alert for any symptoms in poultry that are consistent with avian influenza, especially highly pathogenic avian influenza.

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Shipman

“A telltale sign of highly pathogenic avian influenza in domestic poultry is seen through an increase in mortality. Producers will see large amounts of their birds die for no reason,” Shipman said.

One way for producers to help the industry stay ahead of the disease in Indiana is to report any unusual symptoms their birds have to the Healthy Bird hotline, which can be accessed at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

Shipman said poultry experts will look at the information submitted and call the producers if any of the symptoms are consistent or even suspicious of high or low pathogenic avian influenza.

Looming Threat

“High pathogenic avian influenza is found in chickens, turkeys or anything domestic, and it causes death. Low-path avian influenza presents in a form that does not kill, but it lingers,” Shipman said, adding that the influenza could cause respiratory issues or a bird with avian flu could appear healthy and not present symptoms of the disease, but still be spreading it from bird to bird.

The most common way that low-path avian flu is transmitted, he warned, is by wild waterfowl.

“Cross contamination of fecal matter from wild waterfowl into an environment with domestic poultry can cause low-path flu to spread,” he said.

Shipman urges poultry producers to make sure that they, as well as their flocks, maintain minimum contact with wild waterfowl.

“Producers may need to put up a fence so their birds can’t come in contact with some of the same sources and areas where waterfowl commingle,” Shipman said, adding that another good preventative measure would be for producers to dedicate one particular pair of shoes that they only wear when they are working with their flocks.

He also advised that if a producer visits another poultry farm, they should try to avoid contact with their birds for up to 72 hours to help decrease the potential for the spread of avian influenza.



 Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China World Health Organization, 8 Jun 2017]

On 19 May 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of 17 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China. On 26 May 2017, the NHFPC notified WHO of nine additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China.

Details of the case patients

On 19 May 2017, the NHFPC reported a total of 17 human cases of infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Onset dates of the cases ranged from 29 April to 13 May 2017. Of these 17 case patients, six were female. The median age was 56 years (range 30 to 84 years). The case patients were reported from Anhui (1), Beijing (1), Chongqing (1), Hebei (6), Hunan (1), Jiangsu (1), Shaanxi (1), Shanxi (1), Shandong (2), Sichuan (1), Zhejiang (1). This is the first case reported in Shanxi. At the time of notification, there were two deaths, 15 case patients were diagnosed as having either pneumonia (6) or severe pneumonia (9). Sixteen case patients were reported to have had exposure to poultry or live poultry market, and one had no known poultry exposure. No case clustering was reported.

On 26 May 2017, the NHFPC reported nine human cases of infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Onset dates ranged from 7 to 24 May 2017. All nine case patients were male. The median age was 63 years (range 36 to 74 years). The case patients were reported from Beijing (1), Hebei (1), Jiangsu (1), Shanxi (1), Shandong (1), Sichuan (3), Zhejiang (1). At the time of notification, there were no deaths, nine cases were diagnosed as having either pneumonia (2) or severe pneumonia (7). Eight cases were reported to have had exposure to poultry or live poultry market, and one had no known poultry exposure. No case clustering was reported.

Public health response

The Chinese governments at national and local levels are taking further measures which include:

・Continuing to guide the provinces to strengthen assessment, and prevention and control measures.

・Continuing to strengthen control measures focusing on hygienic management of live poultry markets and cross-regional transportation.

・Conducting detailed source investigations to inform effective prevention and control measures.

・Continuing to detect and treat human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) early to reduce mortality.

・Continuing to carry out risk communication and issue information notices to provide the public with guidance on self-protection.

・Strengthening virology surveillance to better understand levels of virus contamination in the environment as well as mutations, in order to provide further guidance for prevention and control.

WHO risk assessment

The number of human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) and the geographical distribution in the fifth epidemic wave (i.e. onset since 1 October 2016) is greater than earlier waves. This suggests that the virus is spreading, and emphasizes that further intensive surveillance and control measures in both human and animal health sector are crucial.

Most human cases are exposed to avian influenza A(H7N9) virus through contact with infected
poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets. Since the virus continues to be detected in animals and environments, and live poultry vending continues, further human cases can be expected. Although small clusters of cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported including those involving patients in the same ward, current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that this virus has not acquired the ability of sustained transmission among humans. Therefore the likelihood of further community level spread is considered low.

Close analysis of the epidemiological situation and further characterization of the most recent viruses are critical to assess associated risk and to adjust risk management measures in a timely manner.

WHO advice

WHO advises that travellers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should avoid, if possible, poultry farms, contact with animals in live poultry markets, entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals. Travellers should also wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions. As always, a diagnosis of infection with an avian influenza virus should be considered in individuals who develop severe acute respiratory symptoms while travelling in or soon after returning from an area where avian influenza is a concern.

WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance, including surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns, ensure reporting of human infections under the IHR 2005, and continue national health preparedness actions.



 Bird flu: FG asks farms to step up bio-security nationwide [Daily Trust, 8 Jun 2017]

By Vincent A. Yusuf & Mulikatu Mukaila



The Federal Government has said there is no any current case of bird flu in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as widely reported in the media, but asked farms nationwide to step up bio-security.

Dr Gideon Mshelbwala, the Director of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told Daily Trust on Tuesday in a telephone interview on the update of the disease.

“What we said last week was not that there is current outbreak in the FCT. There is no current outbreak. What we said is that, so far in 2017, those are the states that have experienced outbreak from January till now. But from 2014 to 2016 we have about 26 states. But from January this year till date, only seven states have reported cases and they have their own different dates. The last state that reported to us is Kaduna, on May 30. But there is no any current case in the FCT.”

Dr. Mshelbwala listed the states affected by the outbreak of the disease from January to May 2017 to include Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Nasarawa, Plateau, FCT and Kaduna,

He said that the disease had spread across 26 states of the federation and the FCT since it started in 2008, affecting 800 farms in no fewer than 123 local government areas.

Last week, the chief veterinarian, while speaking on the bird flu situation from 2014 to date, said that there were no scientifically proven vaccines for bird flu yet but stressed that the Federal Government was adopting “quarantine, movement control, de-contamination and bio-security measures to curb the spread.”

He lamented that some poultry farmers had very poor bio-security practice which made it difficult to stamp out the spread of the disease.

“Our national action plan encourages proper regulation of the poultry industry and enforcement of annual registration of all actors along the poultry value chain, including farmers, traders, egg merchants and feed millers.

“It also encourages the creation of veterinary extension services to facilitate the control and proper inspection of poultry and poultry products,” he said.

The Acting Secretary of the FCT Agricultural and Rural Development (ARDS) Secretariat, Dr. Musa Aliyu, has debunked the rumour that there was an outbreak of bird flu disease in the FCT.
He stated this yesterday while briefing newsmen in Abuja.

Aliyu said, “There is no such epidemic in Abuja but if anyone observes any unusual sign, please let us know immediately, because we have our men in the field to take charge.”



 SA suspends Zimbabwe chicken imports after bird flu outbreak [The Star, 8 Jun 2017]

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"The H5N8 strain has been detected in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia over the past two years." /REUTERS

South Africa has suspended imports of birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe after it reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu at a poultry farm, the agriculture department said on Thursday.

The H5N8 strain has been detected in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia over the past two years, its spread aided by wild bird migrations. Highly pathogenic among fowl, the risk of human infection is low, according to the World Health Organisation,

"We have heightened inspections of all consignments, including all private and public vehicles at all our ports of entry, especially in and out of Zimbabwe," South Africa's department of agriculture said in a statement.

It said veterinary authorities in the rural province of Limpopo that borders Zimbabwe "are on high alert and have increased their surveillance especially in backyard chickens."

Botswana's ministry of agriculture and food security also said in a statement that it was suspending the import of domesticated and wild birds and their products from Zimbabwe, while local media reported Mozambique had imposed a similar ban.

The virus was detected on a farm with 2 million birds in Lanark, Zimbabwe, and killed 7,845 animals, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said last week.



 Bird Flu in China Infecting Younger Victims, Research Shows [Sixth Tone, 8 Jun 2017]

by David Paulk

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Lancet paper indicates H7N9 virus is becoming more pathogenic in poultry and more widespread in humans.

As China faces its largest bird flu epidemic on record, a group of predominantly Chinese researchers last week published a paper in British medical journal The Lancet in which they concluded that H7N9 is spreading from urban to rural areas and increasingly affecting younger victims, suggesting potentially worrying changes in the virus’s epidemiology.

Avian influenza viruses can be carried by poultry and wild aquatic birds and transmitted to humans, often through contact with infected chickens or ducks. Cases of human-to-human transmission are rare. Infections can cause conjunctivitis, flu-like symptoms, pneumonia, and — in about 40 percent of cases — death. According to the World Health Organization, 1,486 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported in China since early 2013, and this winter the country saw a record number of infections. The authors of the Lancet article believe H7N9, which is found almost exclusively in China, has undergone genetic mutations that change the way it affects humans.

Initially, H7N9 disproportionately affected the elderly and their less robust immune systems, as well as city-dwellers who frequented poultry markets, where birds that carried the virus were still sold because they did not show symptoms of infection. The duration of epidemic waves, which roughly overlap with each winter, was shorter, and the risk of death lower.

In recent years, however, more middle-aged adults (57 percent in the 2016-2017 wave compared with 41 percent in 2013) and more people in rural or semi-urban areas (over 60 percent since 2015-2016 compared with 39 percent in 2013) are becoming infected.

“A large epidemic in 2016-17 prompted concerns that the epidemiology of the virus might have changed, increasing the threat of a pandemic,” wrote the authors of the paper. One of these changes, according to Lisa Schnirring of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, is a mutation that confers resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors, a common anti-viral flu treatment, and which may explain the highly pathogenic strain found today.

The research team compiled their data from an electronic database managed by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that there were 447 laboratory-confirmed cases of H7N9 between Oct. 1, 2016 — the date marking the beginning of the fifth wave — and Feb. 23 of this year. While the fifth wave is still ongoing, this figure already exceeds the 306 infections detected during the 2013-2014 epidemic, the second-highest on record.

Chinese law requires that every case of bird flu be reported to the China CDC within 24 hours.

In May, China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, the agency that oversees health services for residents of and visitors to the mainland, reported an additional 23 cases of H7N9 to the WHO. Occurring over almost four weeks from April to May, the cases spanned 11 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. Seven resulted in death and 15 in pneumonia of varying degrees of severity. Only one case was deemed mild.

Ben Cowling, a professor at Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health and one of the co-authors of the Lancet study, told Sixth Tone that because some cases of bird flu in humans are mild or untested, the number of confirmed infections is somewhat misleading. “There could be many more unreported infections by at least one order of magnitude,” he said. By this logic, the actual number of fifth-wave infections is likely closer to 4,470 than 447.

To Cowling, the most plausible explanation for the rise in confirmed infections this season has to do with the weather. H7N9 prefers colder temperatures, and with the Chinese winter beginning early in 2016, the virus has been able to “spread more widely, earlier, and reach a higher prevalence in poultry,” with the higher risk to humans being a secondary effect.

When cases of bird flu are detected in China, it is not uncommon for local authorities to close down poultry markets, where many victims become exposed to the virus. But this may actually be part of the problem, as research has shown that vendors denied the chance to sell their blighted birds in one place may simply move on to another where oversight is less strict, potentially spreading the virus further.

Virulence of H7N9 in humans has remained relatively stable in recent years, but in birds, it seems to have increased — a trend experts like Cowling say may actually be a boon. “This [newly emerging strain] has been easier to control because outbreaks of the virus are obvious to poultry farmers and traders,” he said, referring to the now-observable symptoms in some infected birds. “If all circulating H7N9 viruses became highly pathogenic, they would be much easier for health authorities to deal with.”

Until recently, infected chickens and ducks exhibited few if any symptoms of the virus, allowing it to spread stealthily through poultry populations. In fact, infections were rarely detected until farmers performed random checks on their stock of birds. Even when farmers became aware of the virus, there was little to stop them from selling the infected but asymptomatic animals.

Richard Webby and Yang Zifeng, authors of a Lancet editorial published alongside the research team’s paper, wrote that while there is still no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of H7N9, signs of the virus’s propagation in China are mounting. “If one considers human beings the canaries in the coal mine,” they wrote, “these findings imply that the virus is more widespread in poultry.”

“Experts agree that it is not a question of if, but when, the virus will adapt in ways that facilitate sustained human-to-human transmission,” said Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO’s representative in China, echoing the concerns of Webby, Yang, and others. He told Sixth Tone it is “imperative” that the country’s policymakers identify effective methods to contain the virus, such as market closures and poultry vaccinations, and implement them “before the seasonal peak next winter.”

The WHO has advised people in affected areas to wash their hands often and avoid direct contact with birds at places like markets and poultry farms. Chinese state news agency Xinhua has recommended that consumers make sure the poultry they buy comes with a quarantine certificate.

Avian viruses like H7N9 will remain an ongoing concern for countries like China, where they are able to cause a large number of human infections by spreading mostly undetected in poultry, said Cowling. With such pervasive and prolonged exposure to people, he added, the virus is being given ample opportunity to stay one step ahead of human immune systems. If a substantial genetic shift were to occur, he said, the implications would be “potentially disastrous.”

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A quarantine officer inspects a live chicken at a poultry farm in Xiangyang, Hubei province, Feb. 3, 2017. Rui Mu/VCG)



 South Africa suspends Zimbabwe chicken imports after bird flu outbreak [Reuters 8 Jun 2017]

South Africa said on Thursday it was suspending all trade in birds and chicken products from neighboring Zimbabwe after it reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu at a commercial poultry farm.

"We have heightened inspections of all consignments, including all private and public vehicles at all our ports of entry, especially in and out of Zimbabwe," South Africa's department of agriculture said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; editing by Jason Neely)



 Bird flu in SA: 140 million chickens could be destroyed [Citizen, 8 Jun 2017]

by Yadhana Jadoo

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There are fears that the avian flu outbreak in Zimbabwe could spread across the border.

South Africa could run the risk of losing 140 million chickens that face the H5N8 strain of bird flu should the virus cross the border with Zimbabwe where the country’s poultry have been affected since an outbreak there last week.

With Botswana having banned poultry imports from Zimbabwe, highly concerned suppliers in South Africa are now fearing their livestock is in jeopardy.

A high-level meeting is expected to take place tomorrow with all stakeholders, including government, according to the South African Poultry Association (Sapa).
Sapa has most of South Africa’s largest poultry producers as members.

They are anxious about the bird flu outbreak, says Sapa CEO Kevin Lovell – who also sits on the global expert panel on industry-driven avian influenza.

“We knew about this before the official announcement, and have been involved with various stakeholders. South Africa has never had a highly pathogenic avian influenza in chickens, and neither has Zimbabwe.”

The Herald reported that Zimbabwean egg and poultry producer Irvine’s was heavily affected by the outbreak as 7 000 of its birds were killed by the virus and a further 140 000 were euthanised for preventive measures.

Putting the number at 140 million chickens in South Africa that face potential euthanasia if “a disaster occurs”, Lovell added there are moreover a “good million backyard birds” being kept by people from all walks of life – some who see it as a hobby.

“And it affects everyone equally – it’s going to be a big issue in terms of businesses if it is spreads to South Africa.”

The risk, however, depends on how widely the virus is spread.

Currently, research is being conducted to identify the “family tree” of the virus and if it is being spread by wild birds moving over borders or by human activity, Lovell said.

“If it is from wild birds, the risk for South Africa is higher. But if it is by human activity or interaction, with people crossing borders, then it is easier to manage. We have to do the CSI stuff to find out the history of this.

“If it is brought in by wild birds it is difficult to stop their movement, but practical to manage.”

That practicality includes closing off the farms, euthanising the birds and halting any movement in a 10km radius. There will also be heightened testing.

Lovell added that should the virus enter South Africa, the longest-living birds, including breeding birds, were most likely to be affected first.

“It’s not here yet but industry is not taking this lightly – and we do have good systems in place.”

These systems, due to South Africa never experiencing such an avian pandemic, have however never been tested.

Lovell could not make a definitive statement on whether South Africa could end up importing chickens from the US as per the African Growth and Opportunity Act, should poultry be affected.

Some concerns related to this are that South Africa will become the dumping ground for unwanted US poultry.

The meeting tomorrow is expected to include stakeholders from national and provincial government, veterinarians, academics and representatives from the industry.

Discussions will focus on the early detection of where the virus comes from and prevention measures. Containment and management of the disease will also be looked at, he said.

The agriculture, forestry and fisheries department had not commented by the time of going to print.

Humans not immune

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), humans can be infected with the H5N8 virus, but the likelihood is low, “based on limited information obtained to date”.

“To date, no human cases of infection with influenza [H5N8] have been detected,” the WHO says.

“However, human cases of infection with related… [H5N6] viruses have been detected and reported in China.

“Though human infections with [H5] viruses are rare and generally occur in individuals exposed to sick or dead, infected birds, they can lead to severe illness or death in humans.”
Info

Despite the risk of human infection being low, the WHO advises that you:

・Avoid contact with any birds, poultry or wild birds, or other animals that are sick or 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.



 SA POULTRY ASSOCIATION CONCERNED OVER BIRD FLU IN ZIMBABWE [Eyewitness News, 8 Jun 2017]

by Masego Rahlaga

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Picture: Freeimages.com

Suppliers in SA are highly concerned that their livestock is in jeopardy following an outbreak of avian flu in Zimbabwe.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Poultry Association says its concerned about the possibility of South Africa losing 140 million chickens to bird flu should the virus spread from Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe announced an outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu at a poultry farm east of Harare last week and Botswana has already banned poultry imports from that country.

Mozambique followed soon after.

Suppliers in South Africa are now highly concerned that their livestock is in jeopardy following an outbreak of avian flu on a poultry farm in Zimbabwe.

At least 715,000 chickens died in the Mashonaland province due to the virus.

The South African Poultry Association's Kevin Lovell says they're not taking the matter lightly and systems are in place to stop any possible danger.

“We are most certainly worried, this is the first time that Zimbabwe has had a highly pathogenic avian influenza in its chickens. It had in ostriches once before as has South Africa. But we’ve never had it in South Africa in chicken either and that means we are still at risk.”

Lovell says they are working with government as well.

“Government has had a contingency plan in the event of an avian influenza outbreak since the mid-2000s.”

He says that research is currently being conducted to determine whether the virus is being spread by wild birds moving over borders or by human activity.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)
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