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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 1 Nov 2017


Fresh outbreak of bird flu detected in South Korea [The News Minute, 18 Nov 2017]

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South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Saturday said it had detected a fresh outbreak of bird flu at a farm in the country's south and ordered the culling of 12,300 fowls as a preventive measure.

South Korean authorities said they were carrying out epidemiological investigations in the affected farms, situated some 300 km southwest of Seoul, to determine whether the detected H5 strain was highly pathogenic.

The results were expected to come in by Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon urged the Ministry to use all available resources to prevent the spread of the virus, such as implementing a ban on moving livestock between places and disinfecting farms.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry has advised people to refrain from visiting the poultry farms or wild bird sanctuaries in the area, Efe news reported.

The country has witnessed several such outbreaks since last year, including one that led to the culling of over 33 million birds last November, making it the most extensive containment effort ever carried out in South Korea.

The mass culling caused a shortage of eggs in the Asian nation, which forced it to import around 25 million of them from the US and Spain.


Avian influenza detected in southern S. Korea [The Korea Herald, 18 Nov 2017]

The South Korean government said Saturday the avian influenza (AI) virus has been detected at a poultry farm operated by a local conglomerate located in the southern part of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the H5 strain of the bird flu was discovered from the farm with around 12,300 ducks in Gochang, 296 kilometers southwest of Seoul.

The government said it is currently carrying out epidemiological investigations, while slaughtering the livestock as a preventive measure.

The ministry said it will check to see if the virus is highly pathogenic, with the result expected by Tuesday.

Low pathogenic AI strains cause only mild symptoms and may easily go undetected, while highly pathogenic subtypes spread rapidly across poultry farms and cause serious problems, experts said.

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"Although the duck farm is owned by a conglomerate, we cannot reveal the name until we get the result of the test," an official from the ministry said.

The ministry also advised local residents to refrain from making visits to poultry farms or wild bird sanctuaries. (Yonhap)


AI detected in Gyeonggi, Jeju low pathogenic strains [The Korea Herald, 14 Nov 2017]

By Yonhap

The avian influenza viruses recently detected in Gyeonggi Province and on Jeju Island have been confirmed as low pathogenic strains, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

Bird flu viruses were discovered in samples of wild bird droppings collected from a river in Suwon, 46 kilometers south of Seoul, and from the southern resort island of Jeju earlier this month.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said low pathogenic H5N2 was separated from the samples in an in-depth examination.

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Low pathogenic AI strains cause only mild symptoms and may easily go undetected, while highly pathogenic subtypes spread rapidly across poultry farms and cause serious problems.

Quarantine authorities have stepped up disinfection and monitoring of local poultry farms as wild birds are flocking to the Korean Peninsula ahead of the winter season. (Yonhap)


Avian influenza detected on Jeju Island [Yonhap News, 12 Nov 2017]

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government said Monday an avian influenza (AI) virus has been detected in wild bird droppings on the southern island of Jeju.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said an H5N2 strain of the bird flu virus was detected in excretions of wild birds in the northeastern part of the island Nov. 6

The ministry said it will check to see if the virus is highly pathogenic, with a result expected in a couple of days.

Quarantine authorities have disinfected the site and designated the area within a 10-kilometer radius of the droppings a special monitoring zone for three weeks.


First Consultations Held On WHO Pandemic Flu Framework Options [Intellectual Property Watch, 10 Nov 2017]

BY CATHERINE SAEZ

The World Health Organization is consulting member states and stakeholders on the future of its mechanism to help prepare the world for the next influenza pandemic. It is particularly asking whether countries should submit not only the biological samples of their influenza viruses, but also their genetic information through the mechanism.

Also in question is whether the mechanism should be extended to cover seasonal influenza. Stakeholders had different views but all questioned the absence of recognition by the WHO of a widely used database currently hosting most of the world’s influenza genetic information.


Exec says PH to be free of bird flu before Christmas [Inquirer.net, 10 Nov 2017]

by: Karl R. Ocampo

After a bird flu outbreak hit farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija earlier this year, newly appointed director for the Bureau of Animal Industry Ronnie Domingo said the bureau will be ready to declare the Philippines “bird flu-free” before Christmas.

Domingo told reporters on the sidelines of the Karne, Isda Supply Suporta sa Masa at Ekonomiya launch that the last day of the agency’s cleaning and disinfection operations in both provinces will end by Dec. 20.

By then, all interventions by government agencies will have been completed, including the fielding of at least 600 sentinel birds in the quarantined areas to test if the birds will survive the farms affected by the virus within a 35-day period.

The sentinel birds were released last month following a 21-day incubation period, as observed by international standards.

“Biologically, the incubation of the virus is one day to two weeks. In that period, there were no new cases of the virus that hit our sentinel birds, so we are done with that problem,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture is set to submit a report to the World Organization for Animal Health for validation of the country’s bird flu-free status.

“What our trading partners are looking for is how we addressed the problem, so we will report on that,” he added.


Bulgaria and Italy battle bird flu [Poultry World, 10 Nov 2017]

by Tony McDougal

Four outbreaks of bird flu have been reported across Bulgaria, according to the country’s Food Safety Agency.

The cases – the first of which was reported in mid-October - have been found in the regions of Dobrich, Sliven, Haskovo and Yambol leading to the culling of almost 90,000 birds.

The cull includes nearly 8,000 ducks that were slaughtered following the most recent outbreak in the southern village of Zimnitsa in Yambol, where susceptible birds at a neighbouring farm were also culled as a preventative measure.

The Agency has implemented a number of restrictive measures in the areas affected, designed to prevent the spread of the disease. These include bans on selling birds at markets and regular clinical examination of samples.

The cases have led to Saudi Arabia announcing a temporary ban on imports of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from the region of Dobrich in the Balkan country.

Meanwhile, Italy announced this week three further H5 virus cases. Farms affected have included a fattening 19,000 bird turkey farm in Brescia province, a 37,000 head laying hen unit and a 30,000 free-range unit – again in Brescia province.


Dead swan in Shimane found to be infected with avian flu [Japan Today, 10 Nov 2017]

TOKYO

The Environment Ministry said Thursday a dead wild swan found at a western Japan lake was infected with a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, confirming it as the first bird flu case in the country this season.

A detailed examination conducted at Tottori University determined the presence of the H5N6 influenza strain, which has caused severe outbreaks in Japan and Asia in the past, according to the ministry.

The dead mute swan was discovered near Lake Shinji in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, on Sunday and it tested positive for bird flu in a simple test carried out by the prefectural government.

Since Sunday, the ministry has intensified its monitoring of wild birds within a 10-kilometer area of the site where the dead swan was discovered, while elevating the 3-stage alert level Thursday from level 1 to 2.

The ministry will dispatch experts to the site from next week to assess the situation. It will also examine dead birds more closely to ascertain whether they were infected with the bird flu virus.

The Shimane prefectural government will begin inspections across the entire prefecture from Friday, planning to alert poultry farmers around the area and conduct on-site inspections.
Initial testing on a tufted duck found dead on the other side of Lake Shinji Tuesday indicated it may have carried bird flu, the university is examining the bird further to confirm.

In Japan, hundreds of thousands of chickens were culled at poultry farms in Miyagi and Chiba prefectures in March this year following the outbreak of bird flu caused by highly virulent H5N6 strain.


Is Dead swan in Shimane found to be infected with avian flu [Japan Today, 10 Nov 2017]

TOKYO

The Environment Ministry said Thursday a dead wild swan found at a western Japan lake was infected with a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, confirming it as the first bird flu case in the country this season.

A detailed examination conducted at Tottori University determined the presence of the H5N6 influenza strain, which has caused severe outbreaks in Japan and Asia in the past, according to the ministry.

The dead mute swan was discovered near Lake Shinji in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, on Sunday and it tested positive for bird flu in a simple test carried out by the prefectural government.

Since Sunday, the ministry has intensified its monitoring of wild birds within a 10-kilometer area of the site where the dead swan was discovered, while elevating the 3-stage alert level Thursday from level 1 to 2.

The ministry will dispatch experts to the site from next week to assess the situation. It will also examine dead birds more closely to ascertain whether they were infected with the bird flu virus.

The Shimane prefectural government will begin inspections across the entire prefecture from Friday, planning to alert poultry farmers around the area and conduct on-site inspections.
Initial testing on a tufted duck found dead on the other side of Lake Shinji Tuesday indicated it may have carried bird flu, the university is examining the bird further to confirm.

In Japan, hundreds of thousands of chickens were culled at poultry farms in Miyagi and Chiba prefectures in March this year following the outbreak of bird flu caused by highly virulent H5N6 strain.


New bird flu alert service launched as threat level is raised from low to medium [Derry Journal, 7 Nov 2017]

By KEVIN MULLAN

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A Hungarian worker holds an ampule filled with vaccine against the deadly H5N1 virus of bird flu in a plant of Omninvest Vaccine Producing Ltd in Pilisborosjenoe, just northwest of Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, March 14, 2006. The industrial scale production of the vaccine started for the first time in the world in Hungary on Tuesday. (AP Photo/MTI, Tamas Kovacs)

The authorities in the North have launched a new bird flu text alert service after the threat level from the virus was recently raised from low to medium. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in England has raised the risk level for an incursion of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds to ‘MEDIUM’. The risk for poultry remains ‘LOW’ for introduction of infection onto individual premises, but will depend on fowl farmers’ levels of biosecurity. Avian influenza (AI), commonly known as bird flu, is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds. It may also pose a threat to people and other animals in certain circumstances. In response, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched a new text alert service for all bird keepers to receive immediate notifications of disease outbreaks or other important disease information. This will enable bird keepers to take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity. The Department would encourage all bird keepers to subscribe to this service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300.

According to DEFRA over the past month reports of H5N8 HPAI have continued in a number of countries. Italy has reported seventeen more outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI in Bergamo, Brescia, Ferrara, Sondrio, Vicenza and Cremona. In its most recent bulletin, DEFRA warns: “The poultry involved included fattening turkeys and layers and seven smallholdings. In all cases, disease control measures are in place; most introductions are considered to be primary incursions with little secondary spread observed.

“One of the outbreaks was reported in one of the largest layer farms in Italy, with over 850,000 birds to be destroyed. “Wild birds positive for H5N8 HPAI have been reported in 3 cases (mute swans, Cygnus olor, one in Como and two cases in Verbano). “Germany has reported a finding in a wild duck (species unknown) near the border with the Netherlands. They have also reported that a virus from a mute swan sampled in September is different from others previously found in that region but shows high similarities to others across Europe. “New incursions to Europe as a whole remain a continuous risk and the increase in detections in recent days and weeks of H5N8 support local maintenance of virus and increase in risk as new waterfowl populations move and arrive within Europe.

“Bulgaria has reported two outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI in poultry - one in a commercial duck unit of - 10,000 birds and the other on a backyard farm.” In terms of the risk to the North, DEFRA adds: “In the UK, the wild bird migration season is well under way which will bring birds from their breeding grounds in Central and North Eurasia to Europe and the UK for wintering. “The findings of new incursions in wild birds in Central Europe mirrors what was occurring last year although there is a lot of uncertainty around whether we see a similar situation to that of last year.”


Asia is unprepared for the next flu outbreak [Asian Correspondent, 7 Nov 2017]

By Dr Leong Hoe Nam

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People cover their faces as a municipal worker fumigates a slum area to prevent the spread of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases in Kolkata, India November 4, 2017. Source: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

‘MOST deadly yet’. ‘Calls for urgent action’. ‘Nation in crisis’.

These are headlines we’ve read repeatedly in 2017, and they all relate to flu outbreaks. During the month of July in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam called for local health authorities to take ‘urgent measures’ to cope with one of the city’s worst flu outbreaks on record. Meanwhile, in Northeast Asia, avian flu has swept across the region, from South Korea to Japan to the Philippines.

Epidemics and outbreaks happen very quickly – anywhere and without warning. While advancements in science have equipped us to better handle the flu, Asia’s continued growth in recent years and lack of sufficient infrastructure have made it difficult to handle large scale outbreaks, cope with hospitalisation numbers and contain transmission between individuals.

These factors have made it easier for viruses to spread within local communities and across the region, putting everyone at risk.

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Chickens are seen at a livestock market before the market asked to stop trading on March 1 in prevention of bird flu transmission, in Kunming, Yunnan province, China February 22, 2017. Source: Reuters

The facts

Asia specifically has suffered the consequences of headline-grabbing flu outbreaks in its recent history:

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infected more than 8,098 and caused 774 deaths. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the economic impact of SARS was around US$18 billion in East Asia alone. Seven Asian nations were included among the top-ten countries affected.

The Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak of 2009, which spread from Mexico to over 200 countries, reached Thailand, China and South Korea, caused an estimated 284,500 deaths.

Among the 15 countries that reported human cases of infection of the H5N1 virus, four countries were in Southeast Asia with 228 reported cases and 181 fatalities in 2004.

Despite all these incidents with the influenza virus, Asia still has a long way go to in preparing for the next viral flu outbreak. When it does come, it will have the potential to affect masses of the region’s population.

Risk factors & challenges

Globalisation has led to larger movements of people, improved modes of transportation, and greater interconnectivity between countries, further enabling the spread of viral flu. By 2020, close to 400 million business travellers and tourists are expected to travel through the region annually. Asia is also continuing to experience population growth and rapid, uncontrolled urbanisation.

The United Nations projects that by 2050, half of the world’s urban population of 6.3 billion will be concentrated in Asia, undoubtedly having an impact on the number people who could be infected by future outbreaks.

Additionally, shifting demographics are an important consideration. The elderly population is labelled as a high-risk age group for seasonal-influenza, and this segment of the population is projected to reach nearly 923 million in Asia alone, by the middle of this century. This is bound to add increased pressure on healthcare systems, which, in many cases, are already struggling.

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People participate in an emergency exercise on prevention and control of H7N9 bird flu virus organised by the Health and Family Planning Commission of the local government in Hebi, Henan province, China June 17, 2017. Source: Reuters

Prevention

To this day, vaccination remains the most effective measure, second only to water, which in turn, enables proper hygiene and sanitation, as well as being identified as one of the most cost-effective tools of prevention by the World Health Organisation (WHO). For this reason, continued research and development is important in ensuring the necessary preventative action is taken early.

Although the efficacy of vaccines as a mode of prevention cannot be denied, increased challenges come with administering them. The logistics of developing and sourcing the vaccine, as well as delivering the adequate doses of anti-influenza medication make exercising them difficult during epidemic times.

Moreover, an overall sense of nonchalance among the population has been shown to hinder prevention efforts. The lack of awareness of influenza prevention whether coming from masks, hand hygiene or vaccination, all play a contributing role to the failed attempts at adequately preventing outbreaks.

Collaboration

Increased collaboration is therefore essential to alleviate the human, social and economic ramifications of these outbreaks across the region.

Initiatives are in place at a broader global and regional level, with the World Health Organisation acting as a leader for better disease prevention by providing frameworks to its member nations to help pre-empt and better manage health emergencies such as flu outbreaks. Asean too has been a key player in increased regional collaboration, recently reiterating its commitment to making communicable and emerging health threats a priority area of collaboration for 2017 to 2018.

More can be done at the national level, however. Countries should aim to replicate Sri Lanka’s successful eradication of malaria, also an infectious disease with high burden, which was achieved through joint efforts from multiple agencies collaborating with the countries healthcare system.

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A municipal worker fumigates a street to prevent the spread of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases in Rawalpindi, Pakistan October 20, 2017. Source: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Looking ahead
The lack of preparedness in Asia and the relatively porous borders for infections make the region the prime target for any outbreak. After all, an infection in all but the most remote corner of the region can make its way to a major city, such as Singapore or Hong Kong, in a day or less.

Everyone has a part to play in ensuring a safe, public health environment for all, and in reducing the public health and socio-economic burden of influenza. Although a lot still needs to be done to actively face future outbreaks, continued collaboration, emphasising prevention and education, will help alleviate the burden of flu outbreaks across the region, remembering that vaccination has the power to greatly reduce disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide.

By Dr Leong Hoe Nam, Infectious Disease specialist practicing at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Singapore.


There are 4 Outbreaks of Bird Flu in Bulgaria [Novinite.com, 6 Nov 2017]

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A total of four outbreaks of avian influenza have been found on the territory of the country - in the districts of Dobrich, Haskovo, Sliven and Yambol, the press agency of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency said.

The last outbreak was found in a breeding stock in the village of Zimnitsa, Straldzha municipality, Yambol district, where nearly eight thousand ducks were killed. As part of the measures to eradicate and prevent the spread of the disease, susceptible animals are also killed on a holding site adjacent to the outbreak. Currently, the disease is only found in a dairy farm in the village of Zimnitsa in Yambol.

All measures under the veterinary legislation have been taken to eradicate the outbreaks. Birds in the three-kilometer zone around the outbreaks were killed in a humane manner. Continuous clinical examinations are performed in the 10-kilometer area around the outbreaks.


Four outbreaks of avian flu have been detected so far on the territory of Bulgaria [Focus News, 5 Nov 2017]

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Sofia. A total of four outbreaks of Bird Flu have been found in the territory of Bulgaria, one on the territory of the Dobrich District, one on the Haskovo District, one in the Sliven District and one in the Yambol District. This was reported by the BABS b press center.

The last outbreak was found in a breeding stock located in the village of Zimnitsa, Straldzha municipality, Yambol district, where nearly 8,000 ducks were killed. As part of the measures to eradicate and prevent the spread of the disease, susceptible animals are also killed on a holding site adjacent to the outbreak. Currently, the disease is found only on a duck farm in the village of Zimnitsa, Straldzha municipality.

In the village of Glushnik in Sliven, as well as in the Haskovo village of Uzundjovo, avian influenza is found in a home farm (a backyard). The first outbreak, in the village of Stefanovo, Dobrich municipality, Dobrich district, was found in mid-October in an industrial breeding stock for ducks.

All measures under the veterinary legislation have been taken to eradicate the outbreaks. Birds in the 3-kilometer zone around the outbreaks were killed in a humane manner. Continuous clinical examinations are performed in the 10-kilometer area around the outbreaks. At present, it is forbidden to populate livestock sites with newly-fed waterfowl on the territory of the whole country.


AI virus detected in central region of S. Korea [Yonhap News, 4 Nov 2017]

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's livestock and farm ministry said Saturday that an avian influenza virus has been detected from droppings of wild birds collected in a town located in the central region of the country.

The H5 strain of the bird flu was detected on Thursday from the excretions near a reservoir in Dangjin, about 100 kilometers southwest of Seoul, according to the ministry, citing the preliminary results of its investigation.

The ministry said that it has disinfected the area and will block the movement of livestock within 10 kilometers of the spot where the virus was found for 21 days.

It is expected to take three to six days before determining whether the virus is highly pathogenic or not.

(END)


Welsh poultry flocks put on alert for return of bird flu [Daily Post North Wales, 4 Nov 2017]

by Andrew Forgrave

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Three cases of bird flu were identified in Wales during last winter's UK outbreak. These were all in wild birds - wigeon, buzzard and teal (Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

As the bird migration season gets underway, Wales' chief vet warns outbreaks of the disease are a 'constant risk'

Poultry farmers are being warned to be on the look-out for bird flu now that the bird migration season is underway.

Wales’ chief vet Dr Christianne Glossop stressed the importance of good biosecurity and urged poultry keepers to report any unexplained deaths or sickness.

The UK was declared free of H5N8 avian influenza only in mid September but already there are fears this status is being threatened.

Germany recently reported a case near the border with the Netherlands, while in October Italy confirmed 17 more outbreaks: at one farm alone, more than 850,000 birds were destroyed.

Current threat levels in the UK are rated medium for wild birds and low for poultry, but Dr Glossop said the return of bird flu was a “constant risk”.

She said: “The wild bird migration season is well under way. This means birds will be arriving into the UK from areas where we know avian flu is present.

“I can not stress enough the importance of poultry keepers continuing to practice the very highest levels of biosecurity.

“Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds.

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Last winter's bird flu curbs in Wales ended in mid April (Image: Claire McKie)

“The movement of poultry should be minimised, and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected.”

As well as reviewing biosecurity, owners of both small backyard flocks and large commercial premises should sign up for disease alerts and register their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

The latter is a legal requirement if keepers have more than 49 birds.

Public Health Wales has said the risk to public health is very low while the Food Standards Agency has stressed the disease does not pose a food safety risk for consumers.

If anyone finds dead wild waterfowl – swans, geese or ducks – or gulls, or comes across five or more dead wild birds in the same location, they should report them to the Defra helpline, 03459 33 55 77 or defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk.


Tanzania vets condemn burning of Kenyan chicks [Daily Nation, 3 Nov 2017]

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Tanzania police incinerated 6,400 one-day-old chicks from Kenya, on suspicion they could spread bird flu. PHOTO | THE CITIZEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Tanzanian veterinarians have condemned government’s decision to burn 6,400 chicks that were illegally imported from Kenya.

The chicks worth TSh12.5 million were impounded on Monday through the Namanga Border Post in Longido District, Arusha Region.

ALTERNATIVES

They were set alight on Tuesday.

Expressing his concern, Executive Director of Tanzania Animal Welfare Society Thomas Kahema said the government had alternative ways of curbing disease outbreak but ignored them.

Northern Zone veterinarian Obedi Nyasebwa cited prevention against outbreak of bird flu and other diseases as the reason for burning the illegal import.

Senior veterinarian Medard Tarimo said complaints about chicks smuggling had been rife.

“They are mostly smuggled at night, endangering the health of Tanzanians because we already know of avian influenza, which broke out in neighbouring Uganda.”

But according to Dr Kahema, the best option was to return the chicks to the owner, if the reason was to really protect the outbreak of diseases.

“The decision has slightly dented our image and relation with our neighbours. Nobody expected if they would reach that decision,” he told The Citizen.

The chicks were owned by Arusha-based businesswomen Mary Matia who is still in police custody.

Tanzania banned poultry imports in 2007.


Greater Pandemic Potential With a Highly Pathogenic H7N9 Avian Influenza Virus [Infectious Disease Advisor, 3 Nov 2017]

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The researchers found that the highly pathogenic H7N9 viruses replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets, and nonhuman primates. Photo Credit: Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe.

HealthDay News — A highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza variant has evolved and now has the potential to cause a pandemic, according to a study published in Cell Host & Microbe.

Masaki Imai, from the University of Tokyo, and colleagues compared a low-pathogenic H7N9 virus with a highly pathogenic isolate and 2 of its variants that represent neuraminidase inhibitor-sensitive and -resistant subpopulations detected within the isolate.

The researchers found that the highly pathogenic H7N9 viruses replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets, and nonhuman primates. These viruses were more pathogenic in mice and ferrets than the low-pathogenic H7N9 virus was, with the exception of the neuraminidase inhibitor-resistant virus, which had mild to moderate attenuation. Among ferrets, all viruses were transmitted via respiratory droplets.

The neuraminidase-sensitive variant killed several of the infected and exposed animals.

In vivo, neuraminidase inhibitors showed limited effectiveness against these viruses, but the viruses were susceptible to a polymerase inhibitor.

"These results suggest that the highly pathogenic H7N9 virus has pandemic potential and should be closely monitored," conclude the authors.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Toyama Chemical Co Ltd and Daiichi Sankyo Inc, which provided study medications.

Reference
Imai M, Watanabe T, Kiso M, et al. A highly pathogenic avian H7N9 influenza virus isolated from a human is lethal in some ferrets infected via respiratory droplets. Cell Host Microbe. 2017 Oct 17. pii: S1931-3128(17)30396-7.


Tanzania: Mass burning of chickens provokes outcry [Journalducameroun.com - English - (press release), 3 Nov 2017]

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The recent mass burning of chickens in Tanzania in accordance with the Animal Diseases Act of 2003, has provoked an angry response from animal rights activists who described it as a needless exercise to stop bird flu.Over 6,400 live chickens bought from neighbouring Kenya by a poultry businesswoman identified as Mary Matia were recently incinerated on Tuesday after being seized by the Tanzanian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in a bid to forestall a possible outbreak of bird flu.

Since 2007, the importation of chickens to Tanzania has been under a protracted ban in response to outbreaks of the disease in East Africa.

However, quotes attributed to the head of the Tanzania Animal Welfare Society, Thomas Kahema by Citizen newspaper on Thursday, criticized the ministry and the security forces for “needlessly killing the chickens”.

In his opinion, the chickens should have been returned to Kenya instead of being incinerated.

He said by burning the chickens Tanzania has tarnished the reputation of the country in the eyes of animal rights activists around the world.

Other activists have vented their displeasure on social media, condemning the burning as ill-informed.

The chickens were burnt by officials of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, and members of the security forces after they were seized at the Namanga border post on Monday night.

Matia had spent some $5,000 to purchase and transport them from Kenya.

She was reportedly present when they were incinerated.

Senior veterinary officer, Medard Tarimo said the smuggling of chickens in the dead of night endanger the health of Tanzanians given that an avian influenza outbreak has been confirmed in neighbouring Uganda.


Avian flu alert as winter brings bird migrants [Wales Farmer, 3 Nov 2017]

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Poultry keepers are advised to be on the alert for signs of avian flu.

Poultry keepers have been reminded of the vital importance of effective biosecurity and to remain vigilant for signs of avian flu this winter.

The UK is currently free from avian influenza (H5N8), but there is a constant risk the disease may arrive, especially now the bird migration season is underway.

The current risk of incursion in the UK is medium for wild birds and low for poultry, although this depends on levels of biosecurity on individual premises.

The chief veterinary officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, is advising all poultry keepers in Wales, from small backyard flocks to large commercial premises, to review their biosecurity, sign up for disease alerts and register their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Keepers are also reminded they must report any unexplained deaths or sickness to their vet.

The advice from Public Health Wales is that the risk to public health from avian flu remains very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear the disease does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

The chief veterinary officer said: “The wild bird migration season is well underway. This means birds will be arriving into the UK from areas where we know avian flu is present.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of poultry keepers continuing to practice the very highest levels of biosecurity. Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds. The movement of poultry should be minimised, and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected.

“If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. If you suspect your birds have AI, you should report it to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office immediately”.

If members of the public find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, they should report them to the Defra helpline on: 03459 33 55 77 or email: defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk. This service covers the whole of GB.

All keepers are encouraged to register their poultry. It is a legal requirement to register if keepers have premises with 50 or more birds. Keepers of premises with fewer than 50 birds are encouraged to register voluntarily. More information on how to register is here.

More information on avian influenza, the current situation in Wales and across the UK and advice for backyard keepers, including on biosecurity is available on the Welsh Government’s website


New version of bird flu virus from China could cause global pandemic, say scientists [Myjoyonline.com, 2 Nov 2017]

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An animal rights group in Tanzania has criticised the burning of more than 6,400 live chickens illegally smuggled from Kenya to curb the outbreak of diseases such as bird flu.

The chickens were burnt by officials of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, and members of the security forces after they were seized at the Namanga border post on Monday night.

Tanzania Animal Welfare Society executive director Thomas Kahema said there were more effective ways to tackle the problem, and it would have been better to return the chckens to Kenya than to burn them, Tanzania's Citizen newspaper reports, adding that there has also been criticism on social media.

“The decision has distorted image of the country to our neighbour," Mr Kahema is quoted as saying.

Businesswoman Mary Matia, 23, brought the chickens, worth more than $5,000 (£3,800), from Kenya and watched with sadness and disbelief as they were burnt, the BBC's Balthazar Nduwayezu reports from Namanga town.

Tanzania banned chicken imports about a decade ago following the outbreak of bird flu in the region.

Veterinary inspector Charles Murira told the BBC:

Why did we burn them? Because they came in without any permits."

The chickens were mostly smuggled at night, endangering the health of Tanzanians, veterinarian Medard Tarimo was quoted by The Citizen as saying.

An outbreak of avian flu in Uganda earlier this year led to the deaths of thousands of domestic and wild birds.



 Bird flu causes financial squeeze for Chinese poultry companies [Poultry World, 1 Nov 2017]

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Photo: Jan Willem Schouten

Bird flu has prompted one of China’s largest poultry breeders to switch to a new broiler breed and expand its sales of chilled poultry meat.

Releasing third quarter results this week, Guangdong Wen’s Foodstuff Group Co Ltd reported a 63% drop in profits for the first nine months of the year, adding that the H7N9 virus had posed a serious impact on its business, particularly in the first half of the year.

Nearly 300 people have died from the zoonotic H7N9 strain of bird flu in China over the past year, which is considerably higher than in previous periods.

As a result, Chinese authorities have shut down live bird markets across the country in a bid to stop the spread of the disease, which has had a huge effect on China’s traditional market-place sales of traditional yellow-feathered chickens.

Reuters reported that Wen’s, which made about a quarter of its sales from poultry meat in the first half of the year, had changed the type of broilers it was selling to better suit more professional breeding, changing consumer demand and slaughtering practices. In the past, it has focused on yellow-feathered birds.

Sales in the third quarter fell by just 8% year-on-year to $2.12bn as a result of lower poultry and pork prices.

Earlier this month, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Harbin Veterinary Research Institute found that the H7N9 virus has mutated, making the infection of animals significantly easier, especially through the air.

Chen Hualan, director of the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory, told Xinhua News Agency that: “Our study indicated that the new H7N9 mutations are lethal to chickens and pose an increased threat to humans.”



 ‘One Health Day’ helps solve health challenges – Set for Nov. 3 [Winchester Herald Chronicle, 1 Nov 2017]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Agriculture are working to raise awareness of the connections among human, animal and environmental health with observances of the second annual international “One Health Day” Nov. 3, 2017.

The One Health concept recognizes the health of people, animals and the environment are all deeply connected. One Health Day highlights the need for a trans-disciplinary approach to solve critical global health challenges including emerging diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food safety, environmental pollution and many others.

“Identifying diseases that affect animals and could impact humans and doing all we can to stop them in their tracks before that happens is important to the One Health approach,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We worked together to do this in a recent outbreak of avian flu in Tennessee, making sure the outbreak was stopped in poultry while at the same time protecting the humans involved from any opportunity to get the bird flu themselves, or mix a bird-type flu with a human flu virus.”

“Tennessee practices the One Health approach with partners from multiple other agencies,” said TDH Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD. “Infectious disease threats are everywhere, and diseases know no borders. This One Health perspective is necessary to address the complexities of emerging diseases such as Zika and avian influenza.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates six out of ten infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Diseases spread from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases and include rabies, Salmonella, West Nile virus, Campylobacter, Q fever and many others. For example, a recent large multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections was linked to live poultry in backyard flocks; of 1,120 cases nationwide, 45 cases were identified in Tennessee.

Many zoonotic diseases can be prevented through a number of healthy practices:

• Keeping hands clean through regular handwashing

• Preventing mosquito, tick and flea bites

• Safe food handling

• Practicing safe behaviors around pets and other animals.

In Tennessee, a multidisciplinary One Health Committee was established in 2011. The committee includes members from the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and United States Department of Agriculture, who meet regularly to discuss One Health issues in Tennessee.

These meetings provide a forum for members of state and federal agencies to share information on issues and projects regarding human, animal and environmental health and build relationships for multi-agency communication and collaboration. The committee has discussed issues such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, rabies, chronic wasting disease and the strategic national stockpile of medication to be used in the event of a public health emergency.

“We are all in this together,” said Tennessee Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM. “Taking the One Health approach is the best way for stakeholders to address the health of people, animals and the environment in today’s world.”

For more information about the Tennessee One Health Committee, please visit the TDH website at https://tn.gov/health/article/one-health-committee.

Originally launched in 2016 by the One Health Commission, One Health Initiative and One Health Platform Foundation, the initiative is now an annual, sustainable platform for worldwide One Health advocates. For additional general information about One Health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention One Health website www.cdc.gov/onehealth/index.html. The official website for International One Health Day can be found at www.onehealthcommission.org/en/eventscalendar/one_health_day/about_one_health_day/.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.
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Zoonotic Swine Flu News - from 26 Oct 2017


Is Asia prepared to face the next flu outbreak? [Jakarta Post, 7 Nov 2017]

By Leong Hoe Nam
Infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

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Illustration of woman with nasal congestion. (Shutterstock/File)

“Most deadly yet”. “Calls for urgent action”. “Nation in crisis”. These were some headlines this year, all related to flu outbreaks. During July in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam called for local health authorities to take “urgent measures” to cope with one of the city's worst flu outbreaks on record. In Northeast Asia, avian flu swept across the region, from South Korea to Japan to the Philippines.

Epidemics and outbreaks happen very quickly – anywhere and without warning. While scientific advancements have equipped us to better handle the flu, Asia’s continued growth in recent years and lack of sufficient infrastructure have made it difficult to handle large-scale outbreaks, cope with hospitalization numbers and contain transmission between individuals. These factors have made it easier for viruses to spread within local communities and across the region, putting everyone at risk.

Asia has suffered the consequences of headline-grabbing flu outbreaks in its recent history.

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infected more than 8,098 and caused 774 deaths. The Asian Development Bank estimated the economic impact of SARS at around US$18 billion in East Asia alone. Seven Asian nations were included among the top-ten countries affected.

The swine flu ( H1N1 ) outbreak of 2009, which spread from Mexico to over 200 countries, reached Thailand, China and South Korea, caused an estimated 284,500 deaths. Among the 15 countries that reported human cases of infection of the H5N1 virus, four countries were in Southeast Asia with 228 reported cases and 181 fatalities in 2004.

Despite all these incidents with the influenza virus, Asia still has a long way go to in preparing for the next viral flu outbreak. When it does come, it will have the potential to affect masses of the region’s population.

Globalization has led to larger movements of people, improved modes of transportation, and greater interconnectivity between countries, further enabling the spread of viral flu. By 2020, close to 400 million business travelers and tourists are expected to travel through the region annually.

Asia also continues to experience population growth and rapid, uncontrolled urbanization. The United Nations projects that by 2050, half of the world’s urban population of 6.3 billion will be concentrated in Asia, undoubtedly affecting the number people who could be infected by future outbreaks.

Additionally, shifting demographics are an important consideration. The elderly population is labelled as a high-risk age group for seasonal-influenza, and this segment of the population is projected to reach nearly 923 million in Asia alone, by the middle of this century. This is bound to add increased pressure on healthcare systems, which, in many cases, are already struggling.

To this day, vaccination remains the most effective measure, second only to water, which in turn, enables proper hygiene and sanitation, as well as being identified as one of the most cost-effective tools of prevention by the World Health Organization (WHO). For this reason, continued research and development is important in ensuring the necessary preventative action is taken early.

Although the efficacy of vaccines as a mode of prevention cannot be denied, increased challenges come with administering them. The logistics of developing and sourcing the vaccine, as well as delivering the adequate doses of anti-influenza medication make exercising them difficult during epidemic times.

Moreover, an overall sense of nonchalance among the population has been shown to hinder prevention efforts. The lack of awareness of influenza prevention, whether coming from masks, hand hygiene or vaccination, all play a contributing role to the failed attempts at adequately preventing outbreaks.

Increased collaboration is therefore essential to alleviate the human, social and economic ramifications of these outbreaks across the region. Initiatives are in place at a broader global and regional level, with the WHO acting as a leader for better disease prevention by providing frameworks to its member nations to help pre-empt and better manage health emergencies such as flu outbreaks.

ASEAN too has been a key player in increased regional collaboration, recently reiterating its commitment to making communicable and emerging health threats a priority area of collaboration for 2017 to 2018.

More can be done at the national level, however. Countries should aim to replicate Sri Lanka’s successful eradication of malaria, also an infectious disease with high burden, which was achieved through joint efforts from multiple agencies collaborating with the countries healthcare system.

The lack of preparedness in Asia and the relatively porous borders for infections make the region the prime target for any outbreak. After all, an infection in all but the most remote corner of the region can make its way to a major city, such as Singapore or Hong Kong, in a day or less.

Everyone has a part to play in ensuring a safe, public health environment for all, and in reducing the public health and socio-economic burden of influenza. Although a lot still needs to be done to actively face future outbreaks, continued collaboration, emphasizing prevention and education, will help alleviate the burden of flu outbreaks across the region, remembering that vaccination has the power to greatly reduce disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.



 SWINE- FLU: Preventing H1N1 Virus [Greater Kashmir, 1 Nov 2017]

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by Dr. Tasaduk Hussain Itoo

Our bodies are under constant attack from microbes, allergens and environmental conditions

INTRODUCTION

There is growing concern for everyone’s health and safety as the H1N1 virus (swine flu) becomes more widespread. Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Normally, people are not affected by swine flu, but human infections can happen and as we have seen recently, have happened. H1N1 in particular is a unique combination of four different strains of influenza, of which two strains are swine flu, one is an avian flu, and one is a human flu.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of H1N1 flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhoea and vomiting, as well. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn that people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that the flu is contagious before you even know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

YOUR BODY AND IMMUNITY

Our bodies are under constant attack from microbes, allergens and environmental conditions, and it is the job of our immune system to serve as our protector or buffer against these elements. Given the recent flu outbreak and with allergy season upon us, supporting your immune system is more important than ever if you want to stay healthy. The best way to strengthen your immune system is with a comprehensive approach that involves healthy lifestyle practices, stress management, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and nutritional supplementation.Your immune system is greatly impacted by your dietary habits and nutritional status. Dietary factors that depress immune function include nutrient deficiencies, excess consumption of sugar and unhealthy fats, and the consumption of allergenic foods. Sugar can significantly reduce the ability of white blood cells to destroy foreign particles and microorganisms. The negative effects start within 30 minutes and last for over 5 hours. Optimal immune function requires a healthy diet that is rich in whole, natural foods – such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, and nuts – low in bad fats and refined sugars, contains adequate protein levels, and plenty of water and other fluids (soups, herb teas). Fresh, nourishing foods are great for your immune system. Think salads, soups and stews. Yogurt also provides important beneficial bacteria that helps to keep your digestive system and immune system healthy.

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM- CORE NUTRITION

Nutritional deficiencies are the most frequent cause of a depressed immune system. Therefore, we recommend that everyone incorporate the following 5 key supplements into their daily routine to build a solid foundation:

1. Multivitamin
Unfortunately, even the best diet cannot protect you from nutrient deficiencies. Stress, poor food choices, and illnesses can further deplete your body of important nutrients. Support your body by giving it the nutrients it needs in order to function at its best. A good multivitamin provides a broad range of vitamins and minerals to fill in nutrient gaps in your diet and protect against nutrient deficiencies.

2. Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6)
Healthy fats are necessary for good health, have anti-inflammatory properties, and cannot be manufactured by the body. Essential Fatty Acids support hormone balance, cardiovascular, reproductive, joint, brain, immune, and nervous system health.

3. Antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural compounds that protect the body from harmful free radicals and play a role in disease prevention. Antioxidants protect the body’s tissues against stress and inflammation and enhance immune function.

4. Probiotics
A healthy immune system begins in the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, the digestive system produces up to 75 percent of the immune system's cells. Beneficial bacteria is vital for digestion, preventing the overgrowth of yeast and other pathogens, and for manufacturing B-complex vitamins and vitamin K.

5. Vitamin D
Beyond its role in bone health, new research shows that vitamin D3 also improves immune function and can reduce the risk of some cancers, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Vitamin D also seems to play a role in cold and flu prevention.

BEYOND CORE NUTRITION

A healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward establishing a healthy immune system. Factors that increase immunity include: not smoking, increasing your intake of green vegetables, eating regular meals, maintaining a proper body weight, getting more than 7 hours of sleep, and exercising regularly. While short-term stress – such as playing sports, experiencing stage-fright, or dealing with an immediate threat – is a temporary natural immune system enhancer, numerous studies have shown that chronic stress reduces immune activity. Those who deal with chronic stress, such as a high-pressure job or a troubled relationship, typically have lower-than-average white blood cell counts.

SPECIAL TIPS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF GETTING SICK

1. SCRUB. Wash your hands with soap for at least 30 seconds – and wash them often. If you can’t wash, then use a hand sanitizer. Use sanitary wipes to clean phone mouthpieces, door knobs, computer keyboards, and other hands-on surfaces.

2. COVER. Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands, where germs will be spread onto everything you touch. Instead, use a tissue or the crook of your elbow.

3. HANDS OFF. Don’t touch your face. Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. If you travel or are exposed to lots of people, you may increase your resistance byusing throat sprays and zinc lozenges.

4. FLOSS. What does flossing have to do with virus prevention? Plenty. Over 300 species of bacteria live in your mouth, and viruses use bacteria as “factories”to grow and multiply. So be sure to floss at least once and brush at least twice daily, and give those viruses fewer options.

5. EAT RIGHT. Cut down on sugar and eat more fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system. If you should get infected with a cold or flu, you’ll be in better condition to help fend it off or. shorten its stay.

6. DRINK WATER. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins and keeps you hydrated.

7. WORK OUT. Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart, helps transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood, and makes you sweat – all of which can help increase the body's natural virus-defending abilities.

8. QUIT SMOKING. Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones.

9. SUPPLEMENT. Key vitamins, minerals, and herbs can help to keep your immune system strong so that you can fight off infections. We also recommend supplementing with extra vitamin C and vitamin D.

Dr. Tasaduk Hussain Itoo is a Medical Doctor, Social Activist and an Educator at Unacademy, India's largest online education platform.



 Swine Flu Virus: Influenza Pandemic [Reports Healthcare, 26 Oct 2017]

by DOREEN BAILEY

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Swine flu which is also known as swine influenza is a respiratory disease. The influenza virus that has hit the respiratory system of pigs, is the main reason to cause this disease.

History of Swine Flu

In the 1930s, some of the veterinarian and pork producers diagnosed the disease in the isolated porks. Soon the disease spread rapidly because of human interaction with the pigs.

Either, they were farmers or pork producers. The disease is not just the result of transmission from pigs, in fact also from humans to pigs in the same manner. It remained confined to the local areas, instead of national and international basis. The cross-species scenarios with influenza virus were found to vary which urged the world to recognize it as the disease finally in 2009 in Mexico. H1N1 flu was the name coined for it because of its potential to hit the two surface antigens, N1 called Neuraminidase type 1 and H1 known as hemagglutinin type 1.

Transmission of the Disease

The swine flu is transmitted in two ways, either from pigs to human beings or human beings to human beings. The disease is transmitted from the bigs to the human beings through interaction with it. The pigs already infected with the disease are the high source of transmitting swine flu to its handlers. Even the veterinarian treating the pigs are highly vulnerable to the disease.

While the human beings are not considered to be a major source of spreading, still they are also one of the sources of transmitting disease despite with no interaction with the infected animals. It is because of the widespread of virus in human beings due to their sneezing and coughing, that spreads the virus as interacting with droplets in the air. It is not at all, transmitted through the food.

The disease can be spread to hundred people through an individual person. Any droplet measuring 0.5 to 5 µm in diameter or a single virus can be the source of infecting an individual. 40000 droplets are released in every sneeze. The droplets are able to stay in the air or get down on objects. When the contaminated objects are touched, they are one of the source of spreading swine flu.

Avian influenza has the indefinite survival, once it’s frozen. Whereas, it can survive for 1-2 days on objects like metal or plastic and it can stay for 15 days on the tissue. But, it takes just 5 minutes on the skin for survival.

A research conducted on the survival of influenza virus on banknotes that are distributed in billions daily stated that the virus survives for three days in concentration and hits the highest days of survival of 17 days in the mucus. However, the latest virus H3H2v is not contagious and easily spread in human beings until in direct contact with the pigs. This is quite worrying because if it is easily viral through genes, then it needs another remedy.

Due to the humidity level and UV radiation, the virus survives maximum in the winter season. So be careful, we are prone to the disease much more in winter.

Symptoms of Swine Flu

The symptoms of swine flu are not very different than the normal flu. You need to worry and get the check from your doctor if you notice the respiratory infection. Both the viruses, H1N1 and H3N2v cause respiratory issues like a sore throat and coughing. The victim might get fever as well. Headaches, body aches, fatigue, and chills are also the signs of swine flu to be noticed. Some have also reported for vomiting, diarrhea or nausea.

Children might not report for all signs but will inform for short breaths. After exposure to the virus, it may take three days to develop completely. Doctors might do the culture of respiratory secretion like throat/ nasal secretion or sputum, but being an expensive one, it is not practiced for diagnosis in first preference.

Rapid tests might provide the inaccurate results so specific tests for genetic material of the virus such as polymerase chain reaction(PCR) are done. In widespread of the disease in society, specific testings are not preferred and symptoms are studied. However, if you are having any chronic disease like asthma, diabetes, emphysema or heart diseases, visit the doctor is a must.

Treatment

Laboratory testings have proved that human influenza can be treated with 3 antivirals medicines. They are zanamivir (Relenza), oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and peramivir (Rapivab).

Oseltamivir is found in pills and the zanamivir is available in inhaled medications. Peramivir is sent in the body through intravenous(IV) drips. It should be given on prescription of drugs, particularly to the people with the medical history or chronic diseases. Older medicines like amantadine (Symmetrel) are not effective enough.

Medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) for reducing fever and aches can be given. But medicines containing aspirin should be avoided for children of 18 years or under because there are chances of Reye’s syndrome.

Developing the flu and having warm chicken and mushroom soup will ease your sore throat and relieve you from respiratory disease. Just not that only, keep yourself hydrated with 8-10 glasses of water at least. Download Water Drink Reminder app or WaterLogged-Daily hydration Tracker app on your androids to combat the flu. Oh yes! Have rest too, to recover soon with the more efficient immune system.

Prevention of the disease
• Don’t forget to stay back at home as soon you are diagnosed with swine flu because it is highly contagious.
• Wash your hands with soaps and water frequently and very thoroughly. If short of both things, go for sanitizers with the alcohol base.
• While coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue.
• Avoid going to barns or crowded areas that may increase the intensity of your flu as well put others at danger.
• If anyone ill at your home, assign responsibility to a single person instead of everybody serving the patient and increasing the risks.
• People with 65 years above, children under five years or people with chronic illness should avoid the causes to stay safe.
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 19 Oct till 31 Oct 2017



 H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu [Gears Of Biz, 31 Oct 2017]

BY VICTORIA RITTER

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Influenza A (H7N9) as viewed through an electron microscope. Both filaments and spheres are observed in this photo. Credit: CDC

In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus suddenly started to rise. As of late July 2017, nearly 1,600 people had tested positive for avian H7N9. Nearly 40 percent of those infected had died.

In early 2017, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, received a sample of H7N9 virus isolated from a patient in China who had died of the flu. He and his research team subsequently began work to characterize and understand it. The first of those results are published today (Oct. 19, 2017) in Cell Host & Microbe.

For the first time, Kawaoka says, his team has identified an influenza virus strain that is both transmissible between ferrets (the best animal model proxy for human influenza infections) and lethal, both in the animal originally infected and in otherwise healthy ferrets in close contact with these infected animals.

“This is the first case of a highly pathogenic avian virus that transmits between ferrets and kills
them,” Kawaoka says. “That’s not good for public health.”

Everyone in the influenza field knew it was only a matter of time before the virus became pathogenic in chickens, which is to say that it became capable of causing disease, but Kawaoka says it took several years. It was initially hard to detect because, unlike some other influenza viruses such as H5N2—which is highly lethal in chickens and caused significant outbreaks on poultry farms across the U.S. and elsewhere in 2015—H7N9 was not killing the chickens it infected.

Instead, it remained silent, passing unknown from chicken to chicken and, occasionally, infecting humans that came into contact with the birds.

Influenza viruses are well known for their propensity to adapt. With each new infection of a host, small changes take place within the genomes of influenza viruses. Sometimes these mutations occur in key regions and lead to significant alterations to the original virus, rendering it capable of infecting new hosts, making hosts sick, causing greater illness, and becoming resistant to the drugs typically used to treat them.

Kawaoka and his team observed this within the sample isolated from the deceased patient, who while alive had been treated with the common flu drug Tamiflu. Using a technique to read the genetic identity of the virus population that had infected the patient, Kawaoka’s team learned the virus had started to mutate: The sample contained a population of H7N9 virus that was sensitive to Tamiflu and a population that was resistant.

So the team created two viruses virtually identical to those isolated from the patient, one sensitive to Tamiflu and the other bearing the mutation that conferred resistance to the drug. Comparing this to a low-pathogenic version of the H7N9 virus that Kawaoka and others had previously studied, the research team assessed how well each virus grows in human respiratory cells, where most influenza viruses take up residence in the body. They found that each grew efficiently, though the resistant strain was less effective than the other two.

The team also found that each virus infects and causes illness, to varying degrees, in several animal models for influenza—mice, ferrets and macaques.

To test whether the virus was transmissible between mammals, the researchers set up experiments in which ferrets were housed alone in individual cages separated by a barrier that allowed respiratory droplets to pass from one cage to the next. In each pair, one ferret was deliberately infected with the virus while the other was placed into the cage healthy.

Each of the three virus types were transmitted from infected ferrets to the previously uninfected animals. Two of three ferrets infected with the nonresistant strain of H7N9—the strain currently circulating in China—died, as did the animals to which they passed the virus.

“Without additional mutations, the virus transmitted and killed ferrets,” says Kawaoka, noting that further alterations to the virus may not be necessary to make it a potential public health threat, though human-to-human transmission has thus far remained limited.

The team also confirmed the drug-resistant H7N9 did not respond to oseltamivir, the active agent in Tamiflu. It did respond to another drug called a protease inhibitor, but Kawaoka says it is a drug currently approved only in Japan and only for use in pandemic situations.

“I don’t want to cause alarm,” Kawaoka says, but “it’s only a matter of time before the resistant virus acquires a mutation that allows it to grow well, (rendering it) more likely to be lethal at the same time it is resistant.”

However, Kawaoka and his team are currently unable to better understand what mutations may enable this transition, at least in the United States, where a moratorium on work that might cause a pathogen to take on a new function not currently known in nature has been in place for several years.

“We can’t do the experiments to find out why,” Kawaoka says. “We really need to understand why H7N9 is lethal and transmissible, and what is different in this one resistant H7N9. If we knew that, because there are multiple viruses circulating, we could narrow down efforts to those that are lethal and transmissible.”

He recently published a commentary in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored with two colleagues who are also experts in influenza, in which they explain the challenges this moratorium creates for understanding the potential of viruses like H7N9 to become pandemic.

“Results from (gain-of-function) studies would almost certainly help in understanding the pandemic potential of influenza viruses and produce public health benefits, such as the prioritization and development of pre-pandemic vaccines and antiviral drugs,” the authors write.

Fundamental (gain-of-function) research on transmissibility, host-range restriction, drug resistance, immunogenicity, pathogenicity, and replicative ability would also benefit global public health.”

The H7N9 virus is likely to continue to mutate as it infects humans, resulting in adaptations that enhance the viruses’ pathogenicity or ability to pass from person to person, Kawaoka adds. In other words, nature is already performing its own gain-of-function experiments, with potentially serious consequences.

It has, however, become a bit easier recently to detect when poultry are infected with H7N9, thereby allowing people to limit their exposure. That’s because the virus has begun to kill birds in China, too. But unlike in the U.S., where farmers cull their flocks to limit the spread of infectious disease, China relies on vaccines. This worries Kawaoka, given how well the virus has been shown to grow.

For now, he says: “We should improve our surveillance.”

More information:

Cell Host & Microbe, Imai, Watanabe, Kiso, Nakajima, Yamayoshi, Iwatsuki-Horimoto, and Hatta et al.: “A Highly Pathogenic Avian H7N9 Influenza Virus Isolated from A Human Is Lethal in Some Ferrets Infected via Respiratory Droplets,” www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe … 1931-3128(17)30396-7 , DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.09.008



 Fall Bird Migration Puts Focus on Poultry Biosecurity [Lancaster Farming, 28 Oct 2017]

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture are reiterating the importance of biosecurity precautions to protect Pennsylvanian’s poultry industry from devastating losses like those experienced in Mid-Western states during recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, a viral disease that affects birds.

“Effective biosecurity is the best way to protect Pennsylvania poultry in autumn, when waterfowl fly south for the winter,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

“This annual migration increases the risk of avian influenza being passed from wild birds to the state’s commercial poultry and backyard flocks,” Redding said.

“International outbreaks of the most dangerous strains of bird flu have been relatively limited, and there have been no reports of deadly avian influenza strains in our flyways. Awareness and caution are crucial to continue that trend,” he said.

“Pennsylvania produces 7.57 billion eggs per year. Whether you are a major poultry producer or own a backyard coop, there are best management practices &tstr; both commonsense and cost-effective &tstr; that can dramatically reduce the risk of influenza to your chickens and turkeys at any time of year,” Redding said.

Poultry owners and managers need to prepare and follow a flock plan to protect against highly pathogenic avian influenza, which led to the death or destruction of more than 40 million birds in 15 states during 2015.

The Department of Agriculture offers a fill-in-the-blank flock protection plan on its website.

Following these guidelines for overall flock health will build on existing biosecurity plans that have focused heavily on avian influenza prevention.

Biosecurity plans are the best protection for Pennsylvania poultry, regardless of the flock size or management style, and this year’s National Poultry Improvement Plan inspections will include a review of biosecurity plans.

In addition, USDA has indicated that future indemnity payments will be given only to producers who have adequate biosecurity and flock plans in place before the outbreak.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recommends these prevention strategies for poultry owners on its website:

・Limit access to your property. Do not allow visitors unless necessary.

・Maintain biosecurity procedures for cleanliness. Pay special attention to shoes, hands, equipment and machinery. Maintain programs to control feral birds and rodents.

・If you must visit places that have other poultry or livestock, be sure to clean and disinfect your car or truck tires and any equipment you used. Wash your hands thoroughly, wear shoe covers or clean and disinfect your shoes or boots, and always change your clothes.

・Do not borrow tools or equipment from other producers who also have poultry.

・Know the clinical signs for disease in your flocks and call for professional help if unusual disease or severe disease is detected.

・Report serious or unusual health problems to your veterinarian, local Extension office, or state or federal animal health officials as quickly as possible. The state Department of Agriculture maintains a 24-hour phone line at 717-772-2852.

・Remember that effective biosecurity is your first and best line of defense. Plans on paper mean little if best practices are not used and practiced each day. Allow only clean and sanitized equipment to service your farm or make deliveries. Restrict visitors and unnecessary personnel.

Prevent contact between your flock and feral birds or waterfowl. Always do your best to minimize contact with rodents and other pests.

• Complete and review your flock plan on a regular basis. Additional information is available from Penn State Extension if you need help.



 Deadly strain of dog flu surfaces in Ohio [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 26 Oct 2017]

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A potentially deadly and highly contagious strain of dog flu has started to make an impact in parts of the U.S. -- namely Ohio’s Miami Valley with a confirmed case in Mason.

“There’s two different influenza viruses,” said Dr. Daniel Brauer with the Dayton South Veterinary Clinic. “The first one came from down south. Just recently, we had another one come in -- they think from Korea -- which was an avian influenza that has spread to the canine patients.”

Brauer said some typical symptoms include a runny nose, loss of appetite and cough.

According to the veterinarian, eight percent of dogs who contract the virus die from it.
Brauer said dogs can be vaccinated for the virus, but that dogs don’t have to be around each other in dog parks or kennels to get the virus.

“If another dog came out that had the virus--- cough, sneezed, whatever... and your dog sniffs that area...not even in contact with the original canine that had it...they're going to get it if they're not vaccinated.”

The virus stays in an environment for up to 48 hours, according to Brauer.



 EFSA says wild birds spread avian flu to E.U. member states [Food Safety News, 26 Oct 2017]

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says migratory wild birds are spreading avian influenza around the globe. The Parma, Italy-based food safety agency figures migration routes crossing the north-eastern and eastern EU borders are the most likely pathway for avian flu entering the continent.

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In the United States, experts at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service say the spread of highly pathogenic avian flu viruses involves both wild and domestic birds.

To view the full information graphic from the CDC, please click on the image. Never prepare or eat food after being around live birds without first washing your hands.

In rare instances, people become infected, usually by touching surfaces contaminated with bird saliva or feces and then touching their own mouths and noses, or preparing or eating food without washing their hands after being around birds. People can also inhale the virus from contaminated droplets and dust in the air, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unlike in humans, the virus poses a huge threat to commercial and backyard bird flocks.

Two years ago avian flu subtype H5N2 burned through commercial poultry and backyard flocks in the United States, requiring the destruction of 49 million domestic birds for losses of $1 billon.

Europe and Asia were also hit with the avian flu outbreaks.

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The EFSA’s experts have since assessed the risk of avian influenza entering the EU and reviewed surveillance approaches – which include monitoring by Member States and the actions they take to minimize its spread. Their scientific advice is based on a thorough review of all the information on the avian influenza outbreaks that have occurred in recent years.

“This work will enhance the EU’s preparedness for avian influenza outbreaks, just ahead of the peak influenza season in autumn and winter. It would not have been possible without the close cooperation with Member States affected by this epidemic,” said Arjan Stegeman, Chair of EFSA’s working group on avian influenza.

One of the main recommendations is that the public should let local veterinary authorities know when and where they find dead water birds – particularly during the influenza season.

Testing farmed water birds – such as ducks and geese – for avian influenza is also important because they can easily come into contact with wild birds, which can then spread the virus.

The report recommends blood analysis for live poultry and testing of water birds found dead.

Farmers and poultry keepers should adopt appropriate management measures to increase biosecurity. These include preventing direct contact between wild water birds and poultry by using nets or keeping poultry indoors during peak influenza season, and avoiding the movement of animals between farms.

Live poultry and backyard flocks should not be allowed access to water sources that are available to wild birds.

International cooperation
EFSA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU reference laboratory on avian influenza and authorities in affected Member States have also published a report on the avian influenza situation in the EU and at global level. The report will be updated quarterly.

The United States has not seen a repeat of the H5N2 Eurasian Avian Flu since the 2014-15 outbreak. In 2016, the Mississippi flyway was connected to the infection of 43,000 birds in Indiana, and earlier this year there was an HPAI outbreak in Lincoln County, TN.

“Avian influenza is caused by influenza Type A virus (influenza A), Avian-origin influenza viruses are broadly categorized based on a combination of two groups of proteins on the surface of the influenza A virus: hemagglutinin or ‘H’ proteins, of which there are 16 (H1-H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1-N9),” according to APHIS.

“Many different combinations of “H” and “N” proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype, and related viruses within a subtype may be referred to as a lineage. Avian influenza viruses are classified as either ‘low pathogenic’ or ‘highly pathogenic’ based on their genetic features and the severity of the disease they cause in poultry. Most viruses are of low pathogenicity, meaning that they causes no signs or only minor clinical signs of infection in poultry.”



 Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China [World Health Organization, 26 Oct 2017]


On 8 and 15 September 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China.

Details of the case-patients

On 8 September 2017, the NHFPC reported one laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China. The case-patient is a 67-year-old male from Hunan province who developed symptoms on 27 August 2017, and was admitted to hospital on 2 September due to severe pneumonia. He was reported to have had exposure to a live poultry market.

On 15 September 2017, the NHFPC reported one laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China. The case-patient is a 54-year-old male from Liaoning province who developed symptoms on 3 September 2017, and was admitted to hospital on 11 September due to severe pneumonia. He was reported to have had occupational exposure to live poultry on a farm.

To date, a total of 1564 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 assessment is that although newly infected human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been reported less frequently in recent weeks, it is still likely that sporadic cases will continue to occur in China taking into consideration the previous epidemic situation and recent patterns. Thus the government at national and local level continues to take preventive measures which include:

・Guiding the provinces to strengthen surveillance to ensure timely and effective detection and response to outbreaks.

・Guiding the provinces to make use of the present low-incidence period to review the prevention and control efforts taken, 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 agricultural sector has started to extensively vaccinate poultry with influenza A(H5) and A(H7) bivalent vaccines.

・The government has cautioned provinces that infection 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) virus and the geographical distribution in the fifth epidemic wave (i.e. onset since 1 October 2016) however has been greater than earlier waves. This suggests that the virus has spread, 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, and live poultry vending continues, 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 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, 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.



 Communication will be key to control future bird flu outbreaks, says Animal and Plant Health Agency [Norfolk Eastern Daily Press, 25 Oct 2017]

by Chris Hill
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Bird flu outbreak at Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Cristian Ciurlic, a senior veterinary inspector for the APHA, speaking at the avian influenza roadshow at Barnham Broom Hotel.

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More than 100 East Anglian poultry farmers gathered for an avian influenza roadshow run by the Poultry Health and Welfare Group at Barnham Broom Hotel, outside Norwich, to discuss the cases of the disease between December 2016 and June 2017.

The H5N8 strain of the virus sparked a series of bird culls and preventative restrictions within the region’s poultry industry, including 23,000 birds killed at a farm in Redgrave, near Diss, in February and a further 55,000 birds culled after the virus was identified at a nearby duck unit.

Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) published a report detailing 13 “lessons learned” including recommendations on how the disease response and communications with other government agencies, local authorities, industry groups and hobby poultry keepers could be improved in future.

Cristian Ciurlic, a senior veterinary inspector for the APHA, told the meeting that the approach to communications “evolved through the outbreak”, with the gov.uk website acting as a central source of information, augmented with advice leaflets, text alerts, videos and infographics shared on social media.

“The most important thing is communication,” he said. “Generally it was positive, but there are areas for improvement. It has been agreed that we should improve communication between the licensing teams, national disease control centres, local teams and local authorities.”

Mr Ciurlic said a specific communication plan is being developed to target domestic “back-yard” poultry flocks during an outbreak. The APHA report says: “There was a fear that the non-commercial keeper community were not aware of, or practising, good routine biosecurity, and had little understanding of the impact that disease in their flock would have on other keepers in potential zones.”

The recommendations to government include: “To examine cost-effective ways to communicate with and educate hobby flock keepers so control measures and orders, and biosecurity generally, are better understood within the hobby keeper community.”

Another recommendation is a review of the GB Poultry Register to see if disease control would be improved if smaller flocks were required to register.

Although poultry keepers with 50 or more birds are legally required to sign up, this is only a voluntary suggestion for smaller flocks.

The report says: “Five of 13 infected premises confirmed in this outbreak have been small non-commercial flocks. Of those five, three were not registered. Also, a number of premises containing over 50 birds visited by foot patrols were not registered, in breach of the legal requirement. In addition foot patrols discovered significant numbers of small flocks with fewer than 50 birds.”

Mr Ciurlic added: “There was a lot of discussion about the GB Poultry Register and the industry representatives have asked why there is no requirement for flocks of under 50 birds. This is still being looked at.”


Consultation On Future Of WHO Pandemic Flu Programme To Look At Seasonal Viruses, Genetic Information [Intellectual Property Watch, 24 Oct 2017]

BY CATHERINE SAEZ

The World Health Organization mechanism to prepare the world for the next influenza pandemic is pondering its future and possible improvements. Among them are its extension to seasonal influenza, and the inclusion of genetic virus information along with biological samples to keep pace with technological developments.

Member states and stakeholders (except the media) have been invited by the WHO to a consultation next month to discuss an analysis showing the potential beneficial or deleterious effects of the suggested changes to the system.



 World leaders rehearse for a pandemic that will come ‘sooner than we expect’ [Washington Post, 24 Oct 2017]

By Lena H. Sun

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The government ministers were facing a new infectious disease outbreak. The mysterious virus was sickening and killing people with alarming speed. Some patients had to be placed on ventilators to help them breathe. The new virus seemed resistant to antiviral medicine.

Within a week, officials had closed a major hospital and schools and quarantined thousands of people. Fear and panic spread quickly as people in neighboring countries became infected and died.

That scenario was part of a pandemic simulation held during the World Bank’s annual meeting in Washington this month. It’s not the kind of event that people would typically associate with the World Bank. But it’s the fourth such exercise the bank has helped organize in the past year, reflecting what experts say is the growing awareness outside the traditional global health sector of the increasing threat and economic disruption posed by a global pandemic.

The chaotic and “horrendously inefficient” early response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people was the catalyst for the simulations, said Tim Evans, senior director for health, nutrition and population at the World Bank.

“We realized that people were just making it up as they were going along, including us,” Evans said, referring to the Ebola response. The bank wanted to “move from a history of panic and neglect to one where we’re going to start to prepare much more systematically to be ready for the 100 percent probability we will be dealing with this again,” he said. “Probably sooner than we expect.’”

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Esther Tokpah, 11, an orphan, weeps before her release from an Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, in September 2014. She lost both parents to Ebola. (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post)

Outbreaks of life-threatening infectious diseases are spreading faster and with more unpredictability than ever.

An unusually large plague outbreak in Madagascar has killed 106 people since August. About 70 percent of the cases are the more virulent form of pneumonic plague that spreads by coughing, sneezing or spitting and is almost always fatal if untreated with antibiotics.

In Uganda, officials are on high alert because of a recently reported outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus that has killed one person and may have exposed hundreds more at health facilities and during traditional burial ceremonies. Marburg is a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola and is among the most virulent pathogens known to infect humans.

For the World Bank simulation, organizers looked at the impact on travel and tourism of an outbreak of a mysterious respiratory virus in a hypothetical country. Participants included finance, health and tourism ministers from about a dozen countries, and officials from organizations including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Air Transport Association.

Discussions during the 90-minute session were off the record. But in interviews after the event, organizers said the step-by-step scenario made the theoretical possibility seem very real for participants. In particular, it drove home the need for speedy, accurate information-sharing and strong coordination within and across governments and institutions.

In today’s fast-paced world, information flows through unofficial channels much faster than through official ones, said Ron Klain, who was the United States’ Ebola czar during the epidemic and served as the moderator for the simulation.

“Government officials need to be more in sync with that and adjust to that,” Klain said. Officials who rely on once-a-day updates in outbreak situations need to understand the importance of releasing accurate information in real time, he said.

“I think the exercise clearly flagged that, and the ministers and others really focused on that,” he said.

Participants in the simulation were shown hypothetical social media posts. One news story about a cruise ship passenger who worked in a lab researching the virus was seen by thousands of people within minutes of being posted on Instagram.

That part of the simulation was similar to what happened during the Ebola epidemic. A U.S.
Coast Guard helicopter and plane were dispatched to a cruise ship off the coast of Mexico to obtain blood samples from a passenger on vacation. She had, 19 days earlier, been working in a lab at a Dallas hospital and possibly had come in contact with a sealed vial of blood belonging to
Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who died in October 2014, the first person to die of Ebola in the United States.

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Here's a look at the pandemics that made it to our shores. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

She had no symptoms, and blood tests later confirmed what doctors already knew: She did not have Ebola. (The only two people who caught Ebola in the United States were nurses caring for Duncan.)

The World Bank conducted its first pandemic simulation for finance ministers at its annual meeting last year. In January, the bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted another simulation for chief executives of major companies at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January. In July, they worked with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to conduct a pandemic simulation for health ministers at the G-20 governments meeting, which traditionally focus on finance and economics.

In the past, some countries have been reluctant to publicize outbreaks or delayed reporting them because of politics or worries about tourism and trade. In countries dependent on tourism, there is also political and economic pressure to take action that may turn out to be counterproductive for their economies, said Ryan Morhard, project lead for global health security at the World Economic Forum, which helped organize the World Bank simulation.

Imposing quarantines or closing borders may be seen as aggressive action, but those measures wouldn’t necessarily be effective against a disease that spreads without symptoms, and could be “equally devastating to that economy,” Morhard said.

Coordination also requires health ministries to work across the government with the finance and tourism sectors. “But that’s not the way governments are usually set up any place in the world,” Klain said. Most government systems “are really built in silos, nationally and internationally.”

Although there is more awareness about the issue, experts agree that the world is not prepared for the next pandemic.

“We still are not ready for the big one,” Klain said, noting that next year is the centennial of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 -1919 that killed at least 50 million people worldwide.

“We’re frankly not ready for a medium-sized one. The threat is still out there.”



 Germany discovers case of H5N8 bird flu in wild duck: OIE [Reuters, 24 Oct 2017]

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Germany has discovered a case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu in a wild duck, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

The virus was found in a mallard duck in Osterwald in Bentheim in the northern state of Lower Saxony, said the OIE, citing information from the German food and agriculture ministry.

An outbreak of H5N8 bird flu was also reported in wild swans in Germany in August. Germany was one of many European countries that found cases of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu last year and earlier in 2017.

Germany culled more than 700,000 farm chickens, turkeys, ducks and other poultry types between November 2016 and March 2017 to combat bird flu.

Reporting by Michael Hogan and Gus Trompiz, editing by Adrian Croft



 Germany discovers case of H5N8 bird flu in wild duck: OIE [Reuters, 24 Oct 2017]

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Germany has discovered a case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu in a wild duck, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

The virus was found in a mallard duck in Osterwald in Bentheim in the northern state of Lower Saxony, said the OIE, citing information from the German food and agriculture ministry.

An outbreak of H5N8 bird flu was also reported in wild swans in Germany in August. Germany was one of many European countries that found cases of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu last year and earlier in 2017.

Germany culled more than 700,000 farm chickens, turkeys, ducks and other poultry types between November 2016 and March 2017 to combat bird flu.

Reporting by Michael Hogan and Gus Trompiz, editing by Adrian Croft




 Two bird flu outbreaks registered in Bulgaria [The Sofia Globe, 23 Oct 2017]

by Imanuel Marcus

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Two bird flu outbreaks have been reported in Bulgaria. The cases were registered in the village of Uzundjovo, in the southern part of Central Bulgaria, as well as in Stefanovo, a village located in the north-east, according to Bulgarian-language media.

The Municipal Epizootic Commissions in charge convened immediate meetings, during which experts decided to implement restrictive measures designed to prevent a spread of the disease.

In the affected district of Haskovo, birds may not be sold on markets or at exhibitions anymore. Regular clinical examinations of samples of both domestic and wild birds are scheduled.

Farmers are not allowed to take any birds away from their farms.

Scientists established that the bird flu cases found are from the strain H-5/N-8. The World Organisation for Animal Health in Paris was notified by the Bulgarian authorities.

In Stefanovo, the bird flu killed hundreds of birds. Thousands were slaughtered after the nature of the virus was established. In Uzundjovo, about half of the 150 birds on site were killed by the virus, while the other half was slaughtered.

Three years ago, a new bird flu strain had been discovered. Shortly afterwards, the Bulgarian authorities had implemented measures to contain an outbreak in the Bourgas province.



 Further Adaptation of Avian Virus May Lead to Pandemic [Monthly Prescribing Reference, 23 Oct 2017]

chickensavianh7n9_1313012.jpg Virus spread via respiratory droplets in animal study; neuraminidase inhibitors showed limited efficacy

HealthDay News — A highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza variant has evolved and now has the potential to cause a pandemic, according to a study published online October 19 in Cell Host & Microbe.

Masaki Imai, from the University of Tokyo, and colleagues compared a low-pathogenic H7N9 virus with a highly pathogenic isolate and 2 of its variants that represent neuraminidase inhibitor-sensitive and -resistant subpopulations detected within the isolate.

The researchers found that the highly pathogenic H7N9 viruses replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets, and nonhuman primates. These viruses were more pathogenic in mice and ferrets than the low-pathogenic H7N9 virus was, with the exception of the neuraminidase inhibitor-resistant virus, which had mild to moderate attenuation. Among ferrets, all viruses were transmitted via respiratory droplets. The neuraminidase-sensitive variant killed several of the infected and exposed animals. In vivo, neuraminidase inhibitors showed limited effectiveness against these viruses, but the viruses were susceptible to a polymerase inhibitor.

"These results suggest that the highly pathogenic H7N9 virus has pandemic potential and should be closely monitored," conclude the authors.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Toyama Chemical Co. Ltd. and Daiichi Sankyo Inc., which provided study medications.



 Bulgaria reports two outbreaks of H5 bird flu: OIE [Reuters, 23 Oct 2017]

PARIS (Reuters) - Bulgaria has reported two outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5 bird flu virus, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

One outbreak occurred on a farm in the village of Stefanovo in the northeastern region of Dobric. The virus killed 418 birds while the rest of the 10,000-strong flock were slaughtered, the OIE said, citing a report from the Bulgarian agriculture ministry.

The other outbreak was discovered in a backyard in Uzundzhovo in the southern region of Haskovo, where 84 birds died of the virus and the other 64 on site were slaughtered, the report said.



 South Africa: Agriculrure, Forestry and Fisheries On Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza [AllAfrica.com, 23 Oct 2017]

PRESS RELEASE

DAFF interventions to assist farmers to containthe spread of HPAI

Since the first case of HPAI was confirmed in a broiler breeder operation near Villiers, Mpumalanga in June 2017, a number of other poultry and ostrich operations, as well as wild bird species, hobby birds and backyard chickens have subsequently been infected with HPAI.

To date, a total of ninety two (92) locations have been identified that tested positive for HPAI H5N8, and reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Mpumalanga province has reported a total of 11 outbreaks, Gauteng 13, North West 2, Free State 2, Kwa-Zulu Natal 1; Eastern Cape 2 and 61 in the Western Cape. The affected birds are divided into distinct categories - commercial poultry, backyard poultry, ostriches, hobby birds and wild birds.

Two out of the nine provinces, Limpopo and the Northern Cape Province, have not been affected by HPAI H5N8. The largest numbers of HPAI H5N8 outbreaks are on commercial farms and the highest numbers of wild bird outbreaks have been reported in the Western Cape Province.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) has been working very closely with several role players on critical issues related to the control of the outbreak of HPAI in South Africa; to find the best means to protect consumers and support poultry farmers.



 H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu [University of Wisconsin-Madison, 22 Oct 2017]

By Kelly April Tyrrell



In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus suddenly started to rise. As of late July 2017, nearly 1,600 people had tested positive for avian H7N9. Nearly 40 percent of those infected had died.

In early 2017, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, received a sample of H7N9 virus isolated from a patient in China who had died of the flu. He and his research team subsequently began work to characterize and understand it. The first of those results are published today (Oct. 19, 2017) in Cell Host & Microbe.

For the first time, Kawaoka says, his team has identified an influenza virus strain that is both transmissible between ferrets (the best animal model proxy for human influenza infections) and lethal, both in the animal originally infected and in otherwise healthy ferrets in close contact with these infected animals.

“This is the first case of a highly pathogenic avian virus that transmits between ferrets and kills them,” Kawaoka says. “That’s not good for public health.”

Everyone in the influenza field knew it was only a matter of time before the virus became pathogenic in chickens, which is to say that it became capable of causing disease, but Kawaoka says it took several years. It was initially hard to detect because, unlike some other influenza viruses such as H5N2 — which is highly lethal in chickens and caused significant outbreaks on poultry farms across the U.S. and elsewhere in 2015 — H7N9 was not killing the chickens it infected.

Instead, it remained silent, passing unknown from chicken to chicken and, occasionally, infecting humans that came into contact with the birds.

Influenza viruses are well known for their propensity to adapt. With each new infection of a host, small changes take place within the genomes of influenza viruses. Sometimes these mutations occur in key regions and lead to significant alterations to the original virus, rendering it capable of infecting new hosts, making hosts sick, causing greater illness, and becoming resistant to the drugs typically used to treat them.

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Yoshihiro Kawaoka

Kawaoka and his team observed this within the sample isolated from the deceased patient, who while alive had been treated with the common flu drug Tamiflu. Using a technique to read the genetic identity of the virus population that had infected the patient, Kawaoka’s team learned the virus had started to mutate: The sample contained a population of H7N9 virus that was sensitive to Tamiflu and a population that was resistant.

So the team created two viruses virtually identical to those isolated from the patient, one sensitive to Tamiflu and the other bearing the mutation that conferred resistance to the drug.

Comparing this to a low-pathogenic version of the H7N9 virus that Kawaoka and others had previously studied, the research team assessed how well each virus grows in human respiratory cells, where most influenza viruses take up residence in the body. They found that each grew efficiently, though the resistant strain was less effective than the other two.

The team also found that each virus infects and causes illness, to varying degrees, in several animal models for influenza — mice, ferrets and macaques.

To test whether the virus was transmissible between mammals, the researchers set up experiments in which ferrets were housed alone in individual cages separated by a barrier that allowed respiratory droplets to pass from one cage to the next. In each pair, one ferret was deliberately infected with the virus while the other was placed into the cage healthy.

Each of the three virus types were transmitted from infected ferrets to the previously uninfected animals. Two of three ferrets infected with the nonresistant strain of H7N9 — the strain currently circulating in China — died, as did the animals to which they passed the virus.

“Without additional mutations, the virus transmitted and killed ferrets,” says Kawaoka, noting that further alterations to the virus may not be necessary to make it a potential public health threat, though human-to-human transmission has thus far remained limited.

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Kawaoka gives a slide presentation to a group of media representatives touring the Influenza Research Institute (IRI) at UW–Madison in February 2017. The high-security research facility was closed down for annual decontamination, cleaning and maintenance. PHOTO: JEFF MILLER

Electron Micrograph Images of H7N9 Virus from China

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The team also confirmed the drug-resistant H7N9 did not respond to oseltamivir, the active agent in Tamiflu. It did respond to another drug called a protease inhibitor, but Kawaoka says it is a drug currently approved only in Japan and only for use in pandemic situations.

“I don’t want to cause alarm,” Kawaoka says, but “it’s only a matter of time before the resistant virus acquires a mutation that allows it to grow well, (rendering it) more likely to be lethal at the same time it is resistant.”

However, Kawaoka and his team are currently unable to better understand what mutations may enable this transition, at least in the United States, where a moratorium on work that might cause a pathogen to take on a new function not currently known in nature has been in place for several years.

“We can’t do the experiments to find out why,” Kawaoka says. “We really need to understand why H7N9 is lethal and transmissible, and what is different in this one resistant H7N9. If we knew that, because there are multiple viruses circulating, we could narrow down efforts to those that are lethal and transmissible.”

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A researcher uses a fluorescence microscope to analyze cells at the Influenza Research Institute. In the background, a computer monitor displays cellular imagery. PHOTO: JEFF MILLER

He recently published a commentary in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored with two colleagues who are also experts in influenza, in which they explain the challenges this moratorium creates for understanding the potential of viruses like H7N9 to become pandemic.

“Results from (gain-of-function) studies would almost certainly help in understanding the pandemic potential of influenza viruses and produce public health benefits, such as the prioritization and development of pre-pandemic vaccines and antiviral drugs,” the authors write.

Fundamental (gain-of-function) research on transmissibility, host-range restriction, drug resistance, immunogenicity, pathogenicity, and replicative ability would also benefit global public health.”

The H7N9 virus is likely to continue to mutate as it infects humans, resulting in adaptations that enhance the viruses’ pathogenicity or ability to pass from person to person, Kawaoka adds. In other words, nature is already performing its own gain-of-function experiments, with potentially serious consequences.

It has, however, become a bit easier recently to detect when poultry are infected with H7N9, thereby allowing people to limit their exposure. That’s because the virus has begun to kill birds in China, too. But unlike in the U.S., where farmers cull their flocks to limit the spread of infectious disease, China relies on vaccines. This worries Kawaoka, given how well the virus has been shown to grow.

For now, he says: “We should improve our surveillance.”

THE STUDY WAS FUNDED BY THE JAPAN AGENCY FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING THE LEADING ADVANCED PROJECTS FOR MEDICAL INNOVATION, THE JAPAN INITIATIVE FOR GLOBAL RESEARCH NETWORK ON INFECTIOUS DISEASE, THE E-ASIA JOINT RESEARCH PROGRAM, AND THE RESEARCH PROGRAM ON EMERGING AND RE-EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES; THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, CULTURE, SCIENCE, SPORTS, AND TECHNOLOGY OF JAPAN; AND THE U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON INFLUENZA PATHOGENESIS (CRIP, HHSN272201400008C). KAWAOKA AND ANOTHER CO-AUTHOR, GABRIELE NEUMANN, ARE ALSO CO-FOUNDERS OF THE COMPANY FLUGEN.



 New H7N9 Bird Flu Strain In China Has The Whole World Worried [Huffington Post Australia, 21 Oct 2017]

Almost half of those hospitalised with the virus have died.

http---o.aolcdn.com-hss-storage-midas-321b04e581b85e2e4df5f350e1ca196d-205788027-RTS17IJW.jpg
CHINA STRINGER NETWORK / REUTERS
People participate in an emergency exercise on prevention and control of H7N9 bird flu virus organised by the Health and Family Planning Commission of the local government in Hebi, Henan province, China.

CHICAGO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Lab experiments on a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu circulating in China suggest the virus can transmit easily among animals and can cause lethal disease, raising alarms that the virus has the potential for triggering a global human pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday.

The H7N9 virus has been circulating in China since 2013, causing severe disease in people exposed to infected poultry. Last year, however, human cases spiked, and the virus split into two distinct strains that are so different they no longer succumb to existing vaccines.

One of these has also become highly pathogenic, meaning it has gained the ability to kill infected birds, posing a threat to agriculture markets.

U.S. and Japanese researchers studied a sample of this new highly pathogenic strain to see how well it spread among mammals, including ferrets, which are considered the best animal model for testing the transmissibility of influenza in humans.

In the study published in Cell Host & Microbe, flu expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues tested a version of the new H7N9 strain taken from a person who died from their infection last spring.

They found that the virus replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets and non-human primates, and that it caused even more severe disease in mice and ferrets than a low pathogenic version of the same virus that does not cause illness in birds.

To test transmissibility, the team placed healthy ferrets next to infected animals and found the virus spread easily from cage to cage, suggesting the virus can be transmitted by respiratory droplets such as those produced by coughing and sneezing.

Two out of three healthy ferrets infected in this way died, which Kawaoka said is "extremely unusual," suggesting that even a small amount of virus can cause severe disease.

'The whole world is worried about it': New H7N9 bird flu strain in China has pandemic potential

"The work is very concerning in terms of the implications for what H7N9 might do in the days ahead in terms of human infection," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota.

Since 2013, the H7N9 bird flu virus has already sickened at least 1,562 people in China and killed at least 612. Some 40 percent of people hospitalized with the virus die.

In the first four epidemics, the virus showed few changes. But last flu season, there were some 764 cases - nearly half of the 1,562 total.

"The whole world is worried about it," Osterholm said.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Marguerita Choy)



 'The whole world is worried about it': New H7N9 bird flu strain in China has pandemic potential [Yahoo7 News, 21 Oct 2017]

By Julie Steenhuysen

bird-flu-art3.jpg
An Indian government worker throws dead chicken in the burial pit in North Maharashtra in February. Source: Getty

Lab experiments on a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu circulating in China suggest the virus can transmit easily among animals and can cause lethal disease.

The finding has raised the alarm that the virus has the potential to trigger a global human pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday.

The H7N9 virus has been circulating in China since 2013, causing severe disease in people exposed to infected poultry.

Last year, human cases spiked, and the virus split into two distinct strains that are so different they no longer succumb to existing vaccines.

One of these has also become highly pathogenic, meaning it has the ability to kill infected birds, posing a threat to the poultry industry.

US and Japanese researchers studied a sample of this new highly pathogenic strain to see how effectively it spread among mammals, including ferrets, which are considered the best animal model for testing the transmissibility of influenza in humans.

In the study published in Cell Host & Microbe, flu expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues tested a version of the new H7N9 strain taken from a person who died from the infection last spring.

bird-flu-art1.jpg
Health workers act in an exercise dealing with an outbreak of H7N9 avian flu in June in Hebi, China. Source: Getty

They found that the virus replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets and non-human primates, and that it caused even more severe disease in mice and ferrets than a low pathogenic version of the same virus that does not cause illness in birds.

To test transmissibility, the team placed healthy ferrets next to infected animals and found the virus spread easily from cage to cage, suggesting the virus can be transmitted by respiratory droplets such as those produced by coughing and sneezing.

Two out of three healthy ferrets infected in this way died, which Kawaoka said is "extremely unusual," suggesting that even a small amount of virus can cause severe disease.

bird-flu-art2.jpg
Crow carcasses following a cull in India's North Maharashtra region in February. Source: Getty

"The work is very concerning in terms of the implications for what H7N9 might do in the days ahead in terms of human infection," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota.

Since 2013, the H7N9 bird flu virus has sickened at least 1,562 people in China and killed at least 612. Some 40 percent of people hospitalized with the virus die.

In the first four epidemics, the virus showed few changes. But last flu season, there were some 764 cases – nearly half of the 1,562 total.

"The whole world is worried about it," Osterholm said.

A new risk assessment tool from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks H7N9 as the leading animal flu strain with the potential of causing a human pandemic.

The most recent global pandemic was the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak that infected millions and killed more than 200,000 globally.

Some researchers are concerned that the highly pathogenic strain could cause even more severe disease and higher death rates, but mortality from the low pathogenic strain is already "alarmingly high," said Dr Timothy Uyeki, a CDC flu expert.

Existing H7N9 vaccines are based on the 2013 strain. The CDC has developed a new vaccine based on the low pathogenic strain of the mutated virus, Uyeki said. The low pathogenic strain accounted for most of the human infections last year.

Uyeki believes the vaccine would likely also offer protection from the new highly pathogenic
H7N9 strain, but it needs to be tested in people.

In February, China gave the go ahead for clinical trials of H7N9 vaccines developed by state-owned Beijing Tiantan Biological. The company said in a filing that it was developing four vaccines against the H7N9 virus.



 Former director-general of World Health Organization Margaret Chan returns to Western University for homecoming lecture [London Free Press, 21 Oct 2017]

By Megan Stacey

1298001636884_ORIGINAL.jpg
Dr. Margaret Chan, a Western grad and former director-general of the World Health Organization, returned to London to give the Dean's Distinguished Lecture at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry during homecoming weekend. (MEGAN STACEY/The London Free Press)

From the halls of Western University to the pages of Forbes’ Most Powerful People list.
Margaret Chan, former director-general of the World Health Organization, returned to her alma mater to give the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture during homecoming weekend.

She’s navigated massive public health crises during her 10 years at the helm of the WHO, including Ebola and Zika outbreaks, and led the agency at a time when it’s been harshly criticized. Even before taking the top spot at WHO, she was part of the battle against H1N1, SARS and avian influenza.

But Chan, 70, isn’t defeated. She spoke optimistically about the lessons learned and the strides made in public health worldwide – including Canada’s role in those improvements.

“Working against such challenges and difficulties, we are still able to make transformative changes. It’s because of partnership, and it’s because of the sense of social justice and solidarity,” she said in an interview with the Free Press, citing improvements in rates of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

Maternal and child health – a cause in which the Canadian government invested billions – has improved significantly. Newborns and children under five are dying much less frequently. Fewer women are dying in childbirth.

Chan called it “tremendous progress.” But those improvements also underscore a crucial link.

“The relationship between wealth and health is so close. If you are suffering from different types of diseases, you are actually stopped from progressing to realize your potential,” Chan said.

“Investing in health, you get dividends.”

She also praised the Canadian government for helping to fund an Ebola vaccine that’s shown effectiveness in clinical trials.

The outbreak is West Africa was one of the biggest challenges facing Chan during her tenure.

The virus claimed more than 11,000 lives - and possibly many more that went unreported - as it swept across the west part of the continent between 2014 and 2016. The WHO was blamed for a slow response.

Chan said the tragedy taught important lessons about the role that fear and culture play in an epidemic.

“These countries had no knowledge of the disease. They thought something went wrong,” she said. Cultural traditions around death and burial contributed to the spread.

Even the colour of the body bags played a role, Chan said. The black bags issued were offensive to grieving family members, who would remove the bodies in the middle of the night and do their own burial ceremony using white materials.

The outbreak highlighted the serious health care needs of West African countries, desperate for doctors and nurses, as well as a lack of international coordination, Chan said.

Improving access to health care remains the next big hurdle - but it's not just a problem in developing nations.

“We are seeing a lot of rich countries with poor people,” she said. “It is the responsibility of all countries political leaders to make sure they put in place policies that level the playing field, that address the inequalities.”

Universal access to health care benefits entire communities and countries, Chan said.

“We believe that healthy people are the productive force for the economy – not only just for the individual, or the family, but for society.”



 New version of bird flu virus from China could cause global pandemic, say scientists [South China Morning Post, 20 Oct 2017]

P1.jpg


Lab experiments on a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu circulating in China suggest the virus can transmit easily among animals and can cause lethal disease, raising alarms the virus has the potential for triggering a global human pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday.

P2.jpg


The H7N9 virus has been circulating in China since 2013, causing severe disease in people exposed to infected poultry. Last year, however, human cases spiked, and the virus split into two distinct strains that are so different they no longer succumb to existing vaccines.

One of these has also become highly pathogenic, meaning it has gained the ability to kill infected birds, posing a threat to agriculture markets.

P3.jpg People participate in an emergency exercise on prevention and control of H7N9 bird flu virus organised by the Health and Family Planning Commission of the local government in Hebi, Henan province, China. Photo: Reuters


US and Japanese researchers studied a sample of this new highly pathogenic strain to see how well it spread among mammals, including ferrets, which are considered the best animal model for testing the transmissibility of influenza in humans.

P4.jpg
Chickens are seen at a poultry farm on the outskirts of Hefei, Anhui province, China. Photo: Reuters

In the study published in Cell Host&Microbe, flu expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues tested a version of the new H7N9 strain taken from a person who died from their infection last spring.

They found that the virus replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets and non-human primates, and that it caused even more severe disease in mice and ferrets than a low pathogenic version of the same virus that does not cause illness in birds.

To test transmissibility, the team placed healthy ferrets next to infected animals and found the virus spread easily from cage to cage, suggesting the virus can be transmitted by respiratory droplets such as those produced by coughing and sneezing.

Two out of three healthy ferrets infected in this way died, which Kawaoka said is “extremely unusual,” suggesting that even a small amount of virus can cause severe disease.

“The work is very concerning in terms of the implications for what H7N9 might do in the days ahead in terms of human infection,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota.

スライド1.jpg
This photo taken on February 12, 2017 shows an H7N9 bird flu patient being treated in a hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province. Photo: Agence France-Presse

Since 2013, the H7N9 bird flu virus has already sickened at least 1,562 people in China and killed at least 612. Some 40 per cent of people hospitalised with the virus die.

In the first four epidemics, the virus showed few changes. But last flu season, there were some 764 cases – nearly half of the 1,562 total. “The whole world is worried about it,” Osterholm said.



 H7N9 Avian Influenza May Be Capable of Pandemic’ [Doctors Lounge, 20 Oct 2017]

OS18001.jpg> Virus spread via respiratory droplets in animal study; neuraminidase inhibitors showed limited efficacy A highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza variant has evolved and now has the potential to cause a pandemic, according to a study published online Oct. 19 in Cell Host & Microbe. Virus spread via respiratory droplets in animal study; neuraminidase inhibitors showed limited efficacy AddThis Button BEGIN Go to www.addthis.com/dashboard to customize your tools FRIDAY, Oct. 20, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza variant has evolved and now has the potential to cause a pandemic, according to a study published online Oct. 19 in Cell Host & Microbe. Masaki Imai, from the University of Tokyo, and colleagues compared a low-pathogenic H7N9 virus with a highly pathogenic isolate and two of its variants that represent neuraminidase inhibitor-sensitive and -resistant subpopulations detected within the isolate. The researchers found that the highly pathogenic H7N9 viruses replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets, and nonhuman primates. These viruses were more pathogenic in mice and ferrets than the low-pathogenic H7N9 virus was, with the exception of the neuraminidase inhibitor-resistant virus, which had mild to moderate attenuation. Among ferrets, all viruses were transmitted via respiratory droplets. The neuraminidase-sensitive variant killed several of the infected and exposed animals. In vivo, neuraminidase inhibitors showed limited effectiveness against these viruses, but the viruses were susceptible to a polymerase inhibitor. "These results suggest that the highly pathogenic H7N9 virus has pandemic potential and should be closely monitored," conclude the authors. Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Toyama Chemical Co. Ltd. and Daiichi Sankyo Inc., which provided study medications.


 WESTERN CAPE SEES RISE IN NUMBE R OF AVIAN FLU CASES [Eyewitness News, 20 Oct 2017]

by Shamiela Fisher

The provincial Economic Opportunities Department says 2.7 million birds have been culled, the majority were layer hens.

CAPE TOWN - There has been a spike in the number of reported Avian flu cases in the Western Cape.

There are currently 56 confirmed cases of bird flu in the province, six more cases than was recorded the previous week.

The provincial Economic Opportunities Department says 2.7 million birds have been culled, of which the majority were layer hens.

Some 144 ostrich farms are currently under quarantine, but no ostriches have been culled as a result of the outbreak.

Apart from the R800 million in production losses, a further R75 million loss in the cull buyer market is expected.

The Western Cape Local Government and Environmental Affairs Department says the province is monitoring the ongoing situation daily and is working hard to curb the impact and any further spread of the disease.

Earlier this week, the SA Poultry Association said egg production tumbled to 17% and over 1,000 workers lost their jobs in the wake of an outbreak of Avian flu.

It said commercial egg production per day dropped to 17 million from 20.4 million after an outbreak of the H5N8 virus was detected in June.

The impact of the virus on the poultry industry also poses a risk for food price inflation.



 Will the World's Most Worrying Flu Virus Go Pandemic? [The Atlantic, 19 Oct 2017]

by ED YONG

lead_960 The Atlantic.jpg
Health workers pack dead chickens into bins at a poultry market

There’s good news and bad news.

Want to receive exclusive insights from The Atlantic—while supporting a sustainable future for independent journalism? Join our new membership program, The Masthead.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps a Most Wanted list for flu viruses.

The agency evaluates every potentially dangerous strain, and gives them two scores out of 10—one reflecting how likely they are to trigger a pandemic, and another that measures how bad that pandemic would be. At the top of the list, with scores of 6.5 for emergence and 7.5 for impact, is H7N9.

Influenza viruses come in many flavors—H5N1, H1N1, H3N2, and so on. The H and N refer to two proteins on their surface, and the numbers refer to the versions of those proteins that a particular virus carries. H1N1 was responsible for both the catastrophic pandemic of 1918 that killed millions of people, and the most recent (and much milder) one from 2009. H5N1 is the bird-flu subtype that has been worrying scientists for almost two decades. But H7N9? Until recently, it had flown under the radar.

H7 viruses infect birds, and only very rarely jump into humans. H7N9 in particular had never been known to infect humans at all before 2013, when it caused an unexpected epidemic in China. It was billed as low-pathogenic (or “low-path”) because it only caused mild disease in chickens. But in humans, the story was different: Of the 135 people infected, around a quarter died.

Every year since, there’s been a new epidemic, and the current one is the worst. H7N9 has evolved, acquiring mutations that allow other flu strains to reproduce more effectively in both birds and mammals. It has started killing birds. In one year, H7N9’s highly pathogenic (“high-path”) strains have caused as many human infections as the previous four epidemics put together. As of September 20, there have been 1,589 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 39 percent of those people have died. “It was a matter of time,” says the flu expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It wasn’t surprising to see this change.”
Kawaoka and his colleagues have now studied the new high-path strains collected from one of the people who died this year. They’ve shown that these strains reproduce efficiently in mice, ferrets, and monkeys, and cause more severe disease than their low-path ancestors. They can spread through the air between captive ferrets, and in some cases, kill the animals they land in. Perhaps most worrying, some strains have already evolved the ability to resist Tamiflu, a frontline drug that’s used to treat flu infections.

These are, of course, just animal studies, and they’re an imperfect reflection of how the high-path viruses behave in humans. “The little data available to date does not reveal an obvious increase in virulence for humans,” says Malik Peiris, from the University of Hong Kong, “but this is very difficult to assess because we only see the more severe infections who present to hospitals. This is an issue that needs to be closely monitored in the upcoming winter season.”

“Clearly this is a virus that we don’t want to become any more transmissible between humans.”

“When you compare H5 and H7 viruses, I think H7 are more worrisome,” says Kawaoka. That’s because the H5 viruses need several further mutations to spread between mammals, as Kawaoka showed in controversial lab experiments where he engineered strains with those mutations. But H7 strains apparently don’t need such tweaks. The strains that are out there right now are already capable of spreading between ferrets.

And yet, there’s no strong evidence that they’re hopping from person to person. Some of the cases this year have occurred in family groups, but it’s hard to say if they passed H7N9 between them or simply acquired it from the same birds. For now, the CDC still notes that “the risk to the general public is very low,” since most people who were infected had been in direct contact with birds, whether in poultry markets, vehicles, or their own homes.

“Clearly this is a virus that we don’t want to become any more transmissible between humans,” says Wendy Barclay, from Imperial College London. “But it’s not already transmissible enough to cause a pandemic—otherwise, we would have seen one.” She also notes that, in Kawaoka’s study, the high-path strains didn’t spread any more easily between ferrets than their low-path cousins. Even though this year’s epidemic is unprecedentedly big, the viruses don’t seem to be any more transmissible than when they first emerged in 2013.

There’s also a silver lining to the Tamiflu-resistant strains that Kawaoka identified. The mutation behind this resistance works by changing the shape of a protein on the virus’s surface—a protein that Tamiflu normally attacks. But the same protein is also part of the infection process; by changing its shape, the strains weaken themselves. They cause milder disease in both mice and ferrets (although they still spread with the same ease as the drug-sensitive strains).

That’s good news, but it’s no reason to rest on our laurels. In 1999, scientists discovered a mutation called H274Y that made H1N1 strains resistant to Tamiflu, but that also reduced their ability to infect mouse and ferrets. The scientists thought that this mutation was “unlikely to be of clinical consequence.” They were wrong. H1N1 picked up other mutations that compensated for H274Y, creating flu strains that were infective and resistant. By 2008, almost all the seasonal strains of H1N1 had become resistant to Tamiflu. With H7N9, history could well repeat itself.

“They might be easier to eradicate from chickens since they can be more easily detected.”

But Tamiflu isn’t our only weapon against influenza. There’s an experimental new drug called Avigan (or favipiravir) that, rather than going after a surface protein, attacks an enzyme that the virus uses to copy its genetic material. Even Tamiflu-resistant strains of H7N9 fall to this drug, as do other kinds of flu that Kawaoka has looked at—at least in animals. “Whether that’s also the case in humans, we don’t know,” he says.

The viruses could eventually evolve to resist this new drug, too. But, Kawaoka says, “many people, including us, have looked for viruses that are resistant to favipiravir, and I don’t think anyone has found one yet.” And Barclay suggests that scientists should start running clinical trials that test both drugs together. “It still astonishes me that we continue to treat flu patients with a single drug when we know that the virus is highly mutable,” she says. “It’s almost inevitable that drug-resistant viruses can evolve.”

In the meantime, vaccines are being developed to match the viruses seen in the fifth and current epidemic. Other control measures have waxed and waned. When the first of the epidemics struck, Chinese health ministries closed markets and slaughtered birds. But as Helen Branswell reports in STAT, some of those containment efforts became more lax in 2015 and 2016.

Again, there is some good news: H7N9 infects chickens very well, but unlike H5N1, it seems to avoid ducks. That matters because Chinese ducks are often housed outside, and domestic birds can mingle with wild ones. Aboard ducks, bird flu can easily spread from one infected farm to other parts of the world. “That may be a major difference that may make it easier to control H7N9 compared to H5N1.”

It might also be a blessing in disguise that the high-path strains have emerged. The low-path strains were very hard to detect because they didn’t cause symptoms. But the high-path viruses kill infected birds, which means “they might be easier to eradicate from chickens since they can be more easily detected,” says Adolfo García-Sastre, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “However, one would need a very well-organized eradication campaign to eliminate them from poultry before they spread to other areas beyond China. I’m afraid that this will not happen, since it did not happen with the H5N1 viruses, which were first detected in 1997, and finally disseminated to most of the rest of the world starting in 2003.”



 The next wave of bird flu could be worse than ever [Science News, 19 Oct 2017]

BY LAUREL HAMERS

Test finds mutated strain of H7N9 can pass between lab animals through the air

101917_lh_birdflu_feat.jpg
POULTRY PROBLEMS So far, most cases of human H7N9 infection have come from exposure to birds, often in live poultry markets. Here, epidemiologists collect samples at a market in Dongguan, China, in 2014.

A new version of the H7N9 avian influenza virus might be able to cause widespread infection and should be closely monitored, scientists say, although it currently doesn’t spread easily between people.

Researchers isolated the virus from a fatal human case and tested it and two genetically modified versions in ferrets, which are susceptible to both human and bird flu viruses. The tested viruses can spread to other ferrets through airborne fluid droplets like those released by a cough or a sneeze, sometimes turning deadly, researchers report October 19 in Cell Host and Microbe.

“This is an extremely well-done study,” says John Lednicky, a virologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville who wasn’t part of the research. It links the behavior of the virus to its genetics — a key to understanding what makes a given virus dangerous and to monitoring its spread through a population.

Various strains of H7N9 influenza have been circulating in China since 2013. The virus has caused 1,564 reported human infections to date in several epidemic waves (SN: 3/22/14, p. 32), and 39 percent of people infected have died. Most were infected with a version of the virus that doesn’t make birds particularly sick. But a recent genetic mutation has made H7N9 better able to replicate in birds and sicken them — which might affect the way it behaves in humans, too.

Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a pathologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and colleagues isolated H7N9 virus particles from someone who was infected with, and died from, this newer, highly pathogenic version of the H7N9 virus in 2016. A genetic analysis revealed that the sample actually contained two different varieties of H7N9. A small genetic change had made one of those varieties resistant to Tamiflu, the leading anti-viral drug used against flu. (The patient had been treated with the drug while alive.)

Using the patient’s virus as a starting point, Kawaoka and his colleagues engineered two different strains of highly pathogenic H7N9, one that was Tamiflu-resistant and one that wasn’t.

Then the researchers looked at the way those strains behaved in mice, ferrets and monkeys compared with two other types of H7N9: a less infectious version that first emerged in 2013 and the one isolated from the patient in 2016.

Ferrets have the same kind of proteins that the flu latches onto in humans. That makes ferrets good proxy for the way flu might behave inside the human body, says Kawaoka.

The 2016 virus and the new Tamiflu-sensitive strain made both ferrets and mice sicker, the researchers found. Those strains were also more effective at replicating inside the animals than the 2013 virus. (The Tamiflu-resistant strain wasn’t as successful.) Overall, that suggests that as the virus has gotten worse for birds, it also might be becoming more dangerous in humans.

In another experiment, the researchers paired sick ferrets with healthy ones, separating the animals with a barrier that allowed air to pass between the cages. Each sick ferret had been infected with one of the four virus strains previously tested. Though the ferrets had no direct contact with each other, all of the highly pathogenic virus strains (the 2016 sample and the genetically tweaked strains) spread through the air via respiratory droplets to infect ferrets in neighboring cages. The strain engineered to be sensitive to Tamiflu, for example, infected three of the four ferrets housed next to sick animals; two of the infected animals died.

The Tamiflu-resistant strain didn’t kill any of the ferrets that caught it. It also responded to a different type of flu treatment, called a polymerase inhibitor. (This treatment isn’t currently available in the United States, Kawaoka says, though polymerase inhibitors have been tested in clinical trials.)

Since flu viruses mutate quickly and unpredictably, it’s impossible to forecast if and when an outbreak will spread between countries or continents. H7N9 has many qualities that put it on a pandemic watch list — its ability to spread to through the air, to make infected animals very sick, and the fact that some varieties are drug resistant. But there’s no cause for panic right now, Kawaoka says. The virus is still confined to China, in large part because it doesn’t currently spread very well between people.

The study didn’t address whether smaller aerosolized droplets from coughs and sneezes could spread the virus longer distances, Lednicky says — a characteristic that would make the virus more transmissible. The large droplets that infected the ferrets in the study can travel only about a meter, limiting the virus’ spread.
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Zoonotic Bird Flu News - from 2 till 18 Oct 2017



 South Africa: Government Exploring Solutions to Avian Influenza Outbreak [AllAfrica.com, 18 Oct 2017]

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana says the department is engaging the poultry industry to find ways to tackle the avian influenza outbreak.

The Minister was in Parliament on Tuesday when the Economics Cluster Ministers fielded oral questions in the National Council of Provinces.

The H6N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza originates in China and has been spread mainly by wild birds.

The Minister said when the department became aware of the outbreak in one of the neighbouring countries, it warned farmers not to feed their chickens more food because it attracts wild birds.

Farmers were urged to ensure other birds were not able to mingle with chicks.

"But this unfortunately has been attacking mostly our commercial farmers - both laying hens and broilers. We have had a meeting with our stakeholders to look at different avenues [where] we can assist each other but unfortunately the spread has been ongoing," he said.

The Minister was responding to a question from NCOP member Emmanuel Mlambo. He had asked if the department had any plans or mitigation strategies to curb the current avian influenza outbreak, which was threatening the South African poultry industry and jobs.

Minister Zokwana said after several engagements with industry players, a number of suggestions have been made to counter the outbreak.

"A number of suggestions have been made, like coming up with protocols that should be taken to ensure that we are able to eradicate the disease and also to look at the issue of compensation and we have come up with the formula of how people should apply to the department."

He said a company had suggested vaccinating chickens so they are able to live with the virus.

However, they were worried the market might not be keen to buy these chickens. "But we have not said out of hand that we cannot do that," he said.

The Minister said the department has for now left the suggestion to experts for consideration.
Another suggestion has been to import fertilised eggs from countries that do not have the virus to keep the industry going.

"We feel for the industry. We feel for the employees. We believe that this spread of the disease may even culminate in the fact that we don't have enough chicken and the prices may [be impacted].

"As a department, we are concerned but consistently we do meet with our stakeholders. We do engage them and we do listen to suggestions that come up.

"We are concerned about the sector and we will do everything to ensure that it remains a vibrant sector of our economy."



 Is the US Prepared for The Next Flu Pandemic? [Contagionlive.com, 17 Oct 2017]

by NICOLA M. PARRY

In a recent Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) webcast, 2 experts discussed the pandemic potential of the most concerning flu epidemic circulating in China, and whether the United States is prepared for this threat.

According to Sonja J. Olsen, PhD, deputy chief, Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, seasonal flu is associated with a significant burden of disease in humans each year. In the United States alone, 9.2 million to 35.6 million cases of flu occur each year, causing 12,000 to 56,000 deaths.

“Understanding seasonal flu is necessary to understanding pandemics,” she said.

Of the 4 types of influenza virus, only types A and B are major human pathogens.

Influenza A viruses are especially problematic, she noted, because they can infect a variety of host species, including waterfowl (their natural reservoir), poultry, humans, and pigs. These viruses can also cross the species barrier, causing illness in another species. The viruses have 8 segmented genes and constantly undergo mutation, Dr. Olsen added. And if influenza A viruses from 2 different species infect the same animal or person, the segmented genome allows the 2 different viruses to mix and create a novel influenza A virus.

“A novel flu virus is a subtype of an influenza virus that is different from influenza viruses currently circulating among humans,” she explained. “Pandemics can occur when a novel influenza virus emerges in the human population.”

Pandemic influenza virus strains also easily infect humans and spread from person-to-person in an efficient and sustained way, said Dr. Olsen. In the event of a flu pandemic arising, the population will have no immunity to the novel virus, and no vaccine will be available to protect against it, she added.

She highlighted avian influenza A H7N9 as having the current greatest potential to cause a pandemic. This virus is circulating in poultry in China and sporadically infecting humans. It has caused 5 annual epidemics of human infections since 2013, said Dr. Olsen, and is associated with severe illness: 90% of infected persons have developed pneumonia, 70% have required intensive care unit admission, and 40% have died.



 China confirms bird flu outbreak at poultry farms in central province [Reuters, 17 Oct 2017]

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FILE PHOTO: People participate in an emergency exercise on prevention and control of H7N9 bird flu virus organised by the Health and Family Planning Commission of the local government in Hebi, Henan province, China June 17, 2017. Picture taken June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Tuesday confirmed an outbreak of bird flu at broiler chicken farms in a central province, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.

Flocks are particularly vulnerable to avian flu during the drier winter months, following which outbreaks usually die down.

The outbreak in Hexian, a city of about 500,000 people in the province of Anhui, was caused by the H5N6 strain of virus, and has been brought under control, the ministry said on its website.

The local government culled 30,196 fowl after the outbreak, which infected 28,650 broiler chickens and killed 15,066 of the birds, it added.

The last bird flu outbreak, also of the H5N6 strain of the virus, killed 9,752 birds on quail farms in the southwestern province of Guizhou, the ministry said in August.

South Korea and Japan battled major outbreaks during the winter.

The H7N9 strain of the virus has caused at least 281 deaths since October in China, with two cases of human infection last month, authorities said last week.

Live poultry markets were shut down in many provinces following the human infections.
China’s last major bird flu outbreak in 2013 killed 36 people and cost the farm sector more than $6 billion in losses.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Clarence Fernandez



 Avian influenza: new scientific advice boosts EU preparedness [EU News, 16 Oct 2017]

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Migratory wild birds crossing the north-eastern and eastern border of the European Union is the most likely pathway for avian influenza to enter the territory, says EFSA.

Experts assessed the risk of avian influenza entering the EU and reviewed surveillance approaches – which comprise monitoring by Member States and the actions they take to minimise its spread. Their scientific advice is based on a thorough review of all the information on the avian influenza outbreaks that have occurred in recent years.

“This work will enhance the EU’s preparedness for avian influenza outbreaks, just ahead of the peak influenza season in autumn and winter. It would not have been possible without the close cooperation with Member States affected by this epidemic,” said Arjan Stegeman, Chair of the Working group on avian influenza.

One of the main recommendations is that water birds found dead should be reported to the local veterinary authorities – particularly during the influenza season.

Testing farmed water birds – such as ducks and geese – for avian influenza is also important because they can easily come into contact with wild birds and then spread the virus. This can be done by blood analysis of live poultry and by testing for viruses in farmed water birds found dead.

Farmers and poultry keepers should adopt appropriate management measures to increase biosecurity. These include preventing direct contact between wild water birds and poultry (by using nets or keeping poultry indoors during peak influenza season) and avoiding the movement of animals between farms.

・Avian influenza
International cooperation

EFSA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU reference laboratory on avian influenza and authorities in affected Member States have also published a report on the avian influenza situation in the EU and at global level. The report will be updated quarterly.



 Zambia has not recorded any cases of bird flu-Katambo [Lusaka Times, 12 Oct 2017]

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 Fisheries and livestock minister Micheal Katambo (right) with ZAMBEEF National Sales and Marketing Manager Mathews Ngosa (left) sampling eggs during a tour of the ZAMBEEF hatchery project in Mpongwe

Livestock and Fisheries Minister Michael Katambo says Zambia still remains at high risk of the resurgent avian influenza also known as bird flu which has affected some African countries.

In a ministerial statement, Mr Katambo says while Zambia has not recorded any cases of bird flu, some neighboring countries have continued to see cases and in some instances the disease has spread, citing South Africa as one such country where the disease has spread.

He says while Zimbabwe last reported of cases on 13th September, 2017, the country has not resolved the outbreak.

Mr Katambo says it’s therefore important that any high mortality of chickens, ducks, guinea fowls or any other bird is reported to the nearest department of veterinary services office.

He has further advised bird owners to house their poultry in order to avoid interaction between domestic and wild birds and animals.

Mr Katambo adds that currently there are no drugs or vaccines available to cure infected birds, and that the only solution is to cull all birds in the affected catchment.



 Bird flu detected at Witfield Dam [Boksburg Advertiser, 12 Oct 2017]

by Fanie Mthupha

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 Fanie Mthupha

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture has revealed that avian influenza, also known as bird flu, was recently detected at Witfield Dam.

According to the chief state veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Duma Mpofu, a dead bird at Witfield Dam tested positive for the H5N8 strain of the virus a few weeks ago.

This is the only bird to have died from the virus and it remains unclear if the other wild birds are also infected.

Mpofu said his department is monitoring the area and encourages members of the public to report any suspicious deaths of wild birds at Witfield Dam or elsewhere to him personally on 071 543 3028.

He also urges residents who own poultry to avoid wild-bird areas.

Mpofu confirmed that there is a reported case of poultry affected by bird flu on a privately owned farm in Fredebos, near Vosloorus, but declined to identify the farm, saying he is not allowed to reveal that information without the property owner’s consent.

The Gauteng MMC of Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Lebogang Maile, visited this farm on October 10.

The farm has been severely affected by bird flu and it is reported that thousands of birds were culled there.

Our sister newspaper, the Benoni City Times, also reported that the avian influenza was recently detected in Benoni.

According to the report, the disease is only present in wild waterbirds, such as geese, and there had been no reported cases of domestic or commercial birds being infected in the area. -

・Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds. H5N1 is the most common form of bird flu. It’s deadly to birds and can easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier. According to the World Health Organization, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997. Currently, the virus isn’t known to spread via human-to-human contact.



 Avian flu may spread via aerosol and droplets [Bizcommunity.com, 12 Oct 2017]

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Airborne transmission of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) viruses can occur among poultry and from poultry to humans during home or live-poultry market slaughter of infected poultry.

The conclusions follow a series of experiments by a research team led by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They found that the slaughter of chickens infected with the H5N1 strain produced airborne viruses that can infect birds and mammals.

Infectious droplets and aerosols

Using lab-simulated processing of chickens asymptomatically infected with human and avian-origin H5N1 viruses, the researchers identified both airborne infectious droplets and aerosols. However, transmission from ducks infected by the strain was far lower.

Influenza virus-native chickens and ferrets exposed to the air space in which virus-infected chickens were processed became infected and died, suggesting that the slaughter of infected chickens is an efficient source of airborne virus that can infect birds and mammals.

They did not, however, detect infections in ducks and ferrets exposed to the air space in which virus-infected ducks were processed. – Poultry World



 Western Cape losing fight against avian flu [Independent Online, 12 Oct 2017]

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 Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Cape Town - The number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in the province has risen to 50, according to the Western Cape government.

Since the outbreak was confirmed in the province, around 2.5 millions chickens and ducks.

This includes:
・2.4 million layer birds
・73 000 breeder birds
・32 600 ducks

The Western Cape government and the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) are still working to find solutions to the outbreak.
South Africa has been hard hit by this virus.

Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde was briefed by the Daff's director-general and the head of Daff's veterinary services this week.

“I have been advised that DAFF is still considering the industry’s application for vaccination.

They are also finalising discussions on possible financial support. Here in the Western Cape, our officials will also be briefing Cabinet next week on the impact of threats like drought and avian influenza on agriculture. These issues will be considered when drafting our budgets for the coming financial year.

“This is a difficult time for our poultry industry. Some farmers are faced with the possibility of having to close down their businesses. Workers are worried about their livelihoods, and being able to provide for their families. We know the impact on food security is also likely to be significant. This is why we are committed to working with DAFF and the industry to save our poultry industry.”

Winde said the disease was spreading rapidly despite increased control measures, and that he had noted proactive steps by some farmers who had put additional special measures in place to curb the spread.

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 LOSSES: The outbreak has already affected the province's egg supply. Picture: AP/Vadim Ghirda

“Many farmers have been proactive with testing their flocks for early detection of AI and culling them quickly in response to positive tests. Some of the farmers have also bought and put down lime around their properties to try and prevent the virus from spreading.”

In response to this outbreak, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, the Western Cape Government has convened a Joint Operations Centre (JOC).

The JOC is being driven by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, the Provincial
Disaster Management Centre, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

The Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) is assisting the Department of Agriculture (DOA) with the coordination of steps to mitigate the effects of the avian influenza outbreak.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the JOC ensures that information sharing and action steps happens accurately and quickly.

In addition the provincial government was also aware of false messages relating to avian influenza doing the rounds on social media.

“Please take great care with messages that may be ill-informed and inaccurate and which may lead to unnecessary panic. When in doubt contact us for clarity.”



 Sovereign contains outbreak of bird flu [Business Day,9 Oct, 2017]

By ANN CROTTY

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Picture: ISTOCK

An avian influenza outbreak at a Sovereign Foods facility had been contained to the layer house where it was initially identified, the poultry producer told shareholders on Friday.

The company issued a statement on the JSE news service ahead of Monday’s shareholder meeting, called to vote on a proposed takeover and delisting.

On September 14, the company informed shareholders it had detected bird flu at a single layer house on a farm that forms part of its Uitenhage operations.

The announcement prompted Country Bird Holdings to announce that it would not renew its R9-a-share offer for control of Sovereign. The avian influenza news came just weeks after Capitalworks, in conjunction with the Sovereign board and management, launched a R12-a-share bid for control of the company.

On Monday, shareholders will vote on the offer, which will result in the company being delisted if it secures acceptance from at least 50% of shareholders.

If enough shareholders vote for the scheme the company will be delisted on November 15.

Country Bird Holdings has indicated it will accept the R12-a-share offer as it does not want to retain a significant holding in an unlisted entity.



 City takes steps as bird flu outbreak hits zoos [Independent Online,9 Oct, 2017]

By ANNA COX

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Avian flu has hit Joburg City Parks and Zoo facilities hard, with almost 550 carcasses being recovered from the Westdene and Emmarentia dams, the Zoo Lake and Joburg zoo itself, it was announced on Wednesday. Picture: Matthews Baloyi / ANA

The city is on full alert monitoring its valuable bird collection for avian influenza which has struck Joburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) facilities in the northern suburbs.

So serious is the epidemic that, under normal situations, the way of controlling such notifiable diseases would have been to cull all birds within a certain radius. However, given the fact that the zoo houses endangered, threatened and at-risk species, the state veterinarian agreed to find other measures to control the spread of the disease, which include vaccinations.

The flu has been identified as the "highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPA1)" virus.

A female blue crane died at the zoo on August 28. Post-mortem results reported the bird had died of avian flu, according to a JCPZ source.

The state vet, who visited the zoo on September 5, inspected the enclosures to assess the risks. He ordered that all birds in direct contact with the dead bird be euthanised immediately.

This comprised a male blue crane and four Marabou storks - a male and three females in the adjacent enclosure.

The zoo announced on Wednesday that almost 550 carcasses had been recovered from the Westdene and Emmarentia dams, the Zoo Lake and and the Johannesburg Zoo.

Residents have also been asked to monitor domestic and feral birds living in close proximity to the zoo.

City Parks spokesperson Jenny Moodley said the HPA1 virus was not contagious to humans, but sick birds and carcasses should not be directly handled as a precautionary measure and zoo officials should be called to assist.

Avian influenza, which was first detected in Limpopo, had been spread by the seasonal migration of birds, added Moodley.

All the dead birds were being incinerated at the zoo and were being handled according to strict health and safety regulations, she said.

The Johannesburg Zoo has also posted signs alerting visitors of the outbreak and requesting them to use the sterilising foot baths at the entrances and exits of the zoo, and to report all instances of birds which were sick.

The sick birds would look lethargic or have ruffled feathers.

“We are concerned about our birds, especially the valuable and endangered species, but we are vaccinating as widely as possible. Many of our bird species are safe as they are under cover but we are concerned about, and monitoring, the free-roaming ones,” Moodley added.

The zoo had a special team on standby to recover carcasses.

Other steps being taken were:

System aimed at monitoring the affected enclosures as well as those which had not yet been affected has been designed and implemented. This entails categorising the enclosures according to the risks apportioned to each. Bird enclosures have been divided into high, medium and low-risk areas.

The state veterinarian recommended that dedicated employees be assigned to specific enclosures until the situation was stabilised.

Measures to control the use and accessibility of the animal kitchen to the staff that might unintentionally bring the microbes closer to where animal feed is stored and prepared should be implemented.

The movement of vehicles in and out of the facility were also closely monitored and restricted. Vehicles might require to be disinfected through high-pressurised disinfectants.

Zoo employees who kept poultry at home have also been advised to monitor their own stock and to be cautious in their actions given that they commune between the zoo and their enclosures.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that it could not comment on the latest outbreak of bird influenza in the city as the virus does not affect human beings.

Residents who may have concerns can email jcp@jhbcityparks.com or call 0829061515.



 Wild bird species face wipeout as avian flu spreads to city parks [Local Source, 6 Oct, 2017]

By Yadhana Jadoo

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Bird flu has taken a significant toll in China this year, with a total of 250 cases and 96 deaths from the H7N9 strain in the January-March period

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo has confirmed it has been affected by the global outbreak of avian influenza.

The white-winged flufftail species is at most risk of becoming extinct due to the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu hitting South Africa’s chicken industry – and now confirmed to have reached Johannesburg parks.

With only 250 white-winged flufftail birds left globally, 50 of these in SA alone, conservation group Birdlife SA says there is a “real risk” if the species becomes infected with the virus.

This after the Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JPCZ) confirmed it had been affected by the global outbreak of avian influenza. JPCZ has recovered more than 581 carcasses and has incinerated a further 243 chicks and 110 deserted eggs.

Nearly 4 million egg-laying chickens at farms in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Free State are in the process of being culled, or have already been, costing the industry a whopping R800 million. JPCZ said the seasonal migration of free-roaming birds had spread the virus.

“This is evident in various parts of the country, including in the City of Joburg, around the Westdene Dam, Emmarentia Dam, Zoo Lake and the Joburg Zoo,” it said.

According to Bird Life SA’s terrestrial bird conservation programme manager Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, wetland birds like the white-winged flufftail were in critical danger. There’s a risk of species with smaller numbers becoming extinct.

Wetland birds were most at risk because the virus spread easily in aquatic environments, hence Johannesburg water spots were affected, she said.

“Where there are water bodies, there are aquatic species that congregate, such as Egyptian geese, which will be most influenced.”

It was difficult to say if SA’s national bird, the Blue Crane, was at high risk, Smit-Robinson said.

“They are not specifically water birds. They breed in the wetlands, but forage in grassland. So it’s hard to say if the risk is low, but we are not saying it is high either.”

According to the SA Poultry Association, bird flu entered SA via wild ducks migrating from Europe to the Western Cape. The white-winged flufftail is an endemic resident of Africa and is only known to occur in the high-altitude wetlands of SA and Ethiopia.

“The continued survival of the species in both Ethiopia and SA is of mounting concern,” Bird Life SA said.

Ten years ago the SA population was estimated at 235 non-breeding individuals in 10 sites in the east of the country. Smit-Robinson said breeders should exercise care in handling birds.

“We ask if this is spread by wild birds, but we can’t say for sure. There is nothing that says wild birds on long-distance migrations spread the virus.

“It is likely spread by the poultry trade. Contact between birds in zoos and parks and poultry must not occur. Humans must watch how they move.”



 The fight against the flu [Brandeis University, 5 Oct, 2017]

By Lawrence Goodman

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Tijana Ivanovic

What if we could predict when the next influenza pandemic will strike? Virologist Tijana Ivanovic has received a prestigious NIH grant to find a way to do just that.

The flu shot has proven effective, but there are limits to its protection. The vaccine works only against strains of the flu, or influenza virus that are already infecting humans. Should a new type of flu virus emerge in humans, we would not have time to develop a new vaccine before it sweeps through the human population.

Past pandemics have killed tens of millions of people. Right now, there’s a flu virus called Asian Lineage Avian Influenza A (H7N9) that kills nearly one of every two people it infects. But humans can only get it from infected poultry. It can’t be spread by humans to each other. But if it could, the effects would be catastrophic.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that assistant professor of biochemistry Tijana Ivanovic has received a New Innovator Award to conduct research that may improve our chances of forecasting a flu pandemic. Right now, we have no way of predicting which strain of the flu virus will evolve and become capable of being passed from human to human. She hopes to change this.

The New Innovator Award is one of the most prestigious grants an early-career scientist can get. It’s part of the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program aimed at encouraging cutting-edge, out-of-the-box science. Ivanovic will receive $1.5 million over five years.

“This is an opportunity to start projects that are more risky, but that have the potential to be transformative,” said Ivanovic, who was also awarded a 2011 L'Oreal USA Fellowship for Women in Science award.

Ivanovic will apply her expertise in virology and advanced microscopy to understanding how viruses adapt to target humans. She will use a custom-built total internal reflection fluorescence microscope (TIRFM) capable of observing individual flu viruses in real time. She will compare viruses that can be transmitted from human to human to those that can’t.

Ivanovic will focus on a process known as membrane fusion, when the membrane of the virus merges with the membrane of a human cell, delivering its infectious cargo. She’s interested in defining the molecular changes in the virus that enable it to invade human cells.

Next, it may be possible to figure out which viruses are preparing to adapt and infect humans.

Then we could combat the viruses before they acquire the ability to spread widely. “Right now we can’t preemptively stop a virus from causing a pandemic,” said Ivanovic. “This line of research might put us in the position to make predictions.”



 H7N9 Flu Changes Worry Experts [MedPage Today, 5 Oct, 2017]

by Michael Smith

'Huge surge' in cases in China in 2016-17 season
SAN DIEGO -- Flu experts are watching China uneasily these days after some unsettling changes in the H7N9 avian influenza A strain during the 2016-17 epidemic in that country.

The fifth wave of the virus, which was first seen in humans in 2013, saw a "huge surge in cases," the CDC's Tim Uyeki, MD, told a symposium here at the annual IDWeek meeting, sponsored jointly by the Infectious Diseases Society of American (IDSA), the Pediatric
Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA).

After the first year, Uyeki said, the case totals in following seasons were roughly stable or declining, but the fifth saw some 764 cases, almost half the cumulative total of 1,562 over all 5 years, according to the World Health Organization.

But what worries the experts is not just the numbers. After 4 years of relative stability, the virus began to show changes during the most recent wave, including a newfound ability to escape vaccines and to resist antiviral drugs, Uyeki said.

As well, the virus was seen in a greatly expanded territory and began -- for the first time -- to cause illness in the birds it infects.

For those reasons, a new CDC model -- the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool -- puts H7N9 at the head of a list of animal flu strains that might cause a pandemic among humans.

In the first four waves, the virus was mainly borne by poultry (who were unharmed by it) and the way people caught it was by exposure to infected birds, often in large poultry markets. There was some human-to-human transmission but it was not easy. When clusters of cases emerged, it was usually because of exposure to a common avian source, rather than transmission among people.

Still, most reported cases resulted in hospital admission and some 40% of admitted patients died, Uyeki said. "That's been consistent since 2013," he told MedPage Today, "and 40% is extremely serious illness."

But in 2016-17, Uyeki said, the virus showed "significant antigenic drift" to the point where the experts said it no longer belonged to the older Pearl River Delta lineage, but now merited a new name -- the Yangtze River Delta lineage.

The new lineage was "no longer well controlled" by the vaccines that had been developed to protect against the earlier lineage, he said, and roughly 10% of isolates now showed markers of resistance to the main class of anti-influenza drugs -- the neuraminidase inhibitors. In earlier years such markers had been seen in about 4% of isolates.

As well, late in the season, the virus suddenly started to kill infected birds. From a "low pathogenic" avian flu, it had become "highly pathogenic" and 10 Chinese provinces saw outbreaks among their poultry stocks.

There is little data yet on how that change will affect people -- Uyeki said there have only been 28 recorded human cases so far -- but experts are looking to the sixth wave with some trepidation.

On the positive side, if the virus affects birds, it will be easier for health officials to follow outbreaks and perhaps to take preventive measures, commented Andy Pavia, MD, of the University of Utah, who moderated the session at which Uyeki spoke.

"It would be a lot easier to track and control the high-path species because at least you know where to look," Pavia told MedPage Today.

How humans will be affected is the open question, he said, noting that "the changes that make it high path for birds are not the same as those that make it more transmissible among humans."

One thing that's important for a flu virus to spread efficiently among people is the ability to bind to receptors in the upper airway. Seasonal influenza strains have that ability but usually have a low case fatality rate. The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu binds only to receptors in the lower respiratory tract and so only rarely infects people but kills 60% of the people it does infect.

The H7N9 flu lies somewhere in the middle, Uyeki said -- it prefers receptors in the lower respiratory tract but can bind to those in the upper regions.

"In general," Pavia said, "everybody in the flu field is worried about the fifth epidemic."

"There's spread to a much larger area in China, it's still causing a lot of cases in areas where they've done a pretty god job of trying to clean up the poultry markets, and the sheer numbers makes you wonder what's coming next."



 Western Cape has lost R800 million thanks to avian flu [Cape Business News, 5 Oct, 2017]

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Western Cape minister of economic opportunities Alan Winde said yesterday that his province had suffered the most with reported cases of avian influenza in the country. So far this year, the province has confirmed 36 cases and 70 ostrich farms are under quarantine.

Winde said in excess of 2 million birds had died as a result and some have been culled at a cost projected to be around R800 million in immediate losses to the industry. In response to this outbreak, the Western Cape government has convened a Joint Operations Centre (JOC).

The JOC is being headed by the Western Cape department of agriculture, the provincial disaster management centre, the department of social development and the department of environmental affairs and development planning.

“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area. In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs,” Winde said.



 Bird flu kills over 500 wild birds in Johannesburg [Farmer's Weekly, 5 Oct, 2017]

By Gerhard Uys

An avian influenza outbreak that has been confirmed in Gauteng, has forced the Montecasino Bird Gardens to temporarily close its doors, while biosecurity measures have been taken to protect the bird population at the Johannesburg Zoo.

Spokesperson for the Johannesburg Zoo, Jenny Moodley, told Farmer’s Weekly that the outbreak was affecting bird populations in Gauteng parks as well as the zoo.

“We have recovered 500 bird carcasses, of which 243 were chicks. We also destroyed 1 190 deserted eggs. The carcasses and eggs were incinerated. Dead birds were found at the Westdene Dam, Zoo Lake and Emmarentia Dam,” Moodley said.

The Johannesburg Zoo had also lost two blue cranes. The enclosures where they had been kept had been treated with lime to disinfect it, and according to Moodley, this was adequate to protect birds against the H5N8 avian influenza virus.

Visitors to the zoo were urged to use disinfectant footbaths, and vehicles entering the premises were being sprayed with disinfectant, Moodley said,

Zoo authorities were working closely with the state veterinarian and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, but Moodley stressed that the virus was not dangerous to humans.

CEO of Agri Gauteng, Thinus van Zyl, told Farmer’s Weekly that no poultry producers in Gauteng had reported outbreaks on farms, but the organisation had communicated information about the avian influenza outbreak to its members.

To report sightings of dead birds, phone the Johannesburg Zoo on 011 712 6600.



 WATCH: 2 million birds dead from avian flu, egg shortage looms [News24, 4 Oct, 2017]

Aletta Harrison

Cape Town - "The emotional impact for us as a family business has been severe," explains Pier Passerini.

As the managing director of Windmeul Eggs, Passerini is in the unenviable position of steering a 40-year-old family business through the catastrophic impacts of the avian influenza outbreak.
Located near Wellington, the business is among several in the Western Cape that have been forced to cull hundreds of thousands of hens in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly H5N8 virus, although the birds often die faster than they can kill them.

He says the industry is in complete shock.

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An estimated two million birds have died or been culled in the Western Cape. Picture: Supplied, News24.

"Most of us, when we speak to each other, are at a loss for words. You know it’s something that was always in the back of your mind as a poultry farmer; you’ve read about in other countries… it’s a nightmare that just happened to become reality…"

The H5N8 strain, which was first detected on 22 June, quickly spread and, at last count, was detected at 36 locations across the province.

Laying farms have been worst affected, with the Western Cape accounting for the majority of cases.

"The poultry industry in the Western Cape is quite concentrated," explains State Veterinarian Dr Lesley van Helden.

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"It’s concentrated close to Cape Town, which is obviously where the market for poultry is mainly. And the problem with this is a lot of the farms are within a few kilometres of each other, so it’s much easier for a virus to spread between the farms than if the farms were further apart," Van Helden says.

The result has been the disposal of birds in their millions, and the composting of the carcasses to try and prevent contagion.

Passerini says Windmeul has now lost 70% of its flock to the outbreak, and that the trauma of witnessing death on this scale has affected his whole family and his employees.

"To see tons and tons of birds being disposed of on a daily basis is difficult; it’s difficult for our staff that’s been with us for many years; it’s difficult for us as a family – it’s not easy to see."

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Farmers have been instructed to dispose of the carcasses by composting them on site. Picture: Supplied, News24.

The consequences are far reaching. The Western Cape government estimates the immediate industry losses to be R800m, but stated on Monday that the long term financial impact is likely to be around R4bn.

According to Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde, the informal economy has been most affected thus far, with the cull bird market in "big trouble".

"Now we’ll start to actually see it in the formal economy, on the shelves in your retailers," he warned.

Of great concern to the provincial government is how this will impact poor households who rely on chicken meat and eggs as their main source of affordable protein.

A light at the end of the tunnel?

While farmers are trying to convince state officials to give permission for vaccinations, the Western Cape government is hoping the change in seasons will help stem the spread of the virus.

"One of the other areas that also helps us is that it’s getting warmer. And you know with humans and flu – we are more susceptible to flu in winter time. As we move to summer, we are less susceptible to flu and the same thing obviously with Avian Influenza…" Winde said.

But for farmers busy floundering in the wake of the outbreak, simply waiting for summer to take care of the problem may not feel like an appropriate response.

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"At this moment in time, there are no solutions," says Passerini.

"And I think that’s the most difficult thing for us as a company to process, because there currently isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel… If we have to repopulate the farms that have gone through this virus, there are no guarantees that in two weeks’ time it won’t happen again…"

He believes vaccinating hens is the only option, but is facing a frustrating wait for permission.

"We are talking to government to try and speed up the process, but we’re not getting the feedback that we require," he explains.

"It’s the only answer at this moment in time; it’s the only solution that can save the industry from total annihilation… We know it comes with other consequences for trade, but at least you’re not carrying the financial losses.

"At this moment in time, I think it’s the only solution.”



 Province-wide plan for avian influenza outbreak [Bizcommunity.com, 4 Oct, 2017]

The Western Cape government has initiated a province-wide recovery plan to combat the impact of the avian influenza outbreak on agriculture. To date, two million birds have been culled and immediate production losses of more than R800m are projected.

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Recently, Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, and the Western Cape government team driving the response plan, hosted a media briefing on the status of the disease in the province.

In response to this outbreak, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, the Western Cape government has convened a Joint Operations Centre (JOC). The JOC is being headed by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Minister Winde said: “The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area. In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs.

“In the Western Cape, the outbreak has hit the Paardeberg area – the region with the highest concentration of poultry farms.”

Departments stand together

Anton Bredell, Minister of Environmental Affairs, Local Government and Development Planning said the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) is assisting the Department of Agriculture (DOA) with the coordination of steps to mitigate the effects of the avian influenza outbreak. “The PDMC is also in constant communication with the National Disaster Management centre and DAFF.”

Bredell said the PDMC has established a working committee that includes representatives from all the departments that could play a role in effectively managing the crisis, including the National Departments of Labour, Social Development, SASSA, Environmental Affairs, Economic Development, and others.

“A big part of what we’re busy with currently includes looking after the wellbeing of affected farm workers. In this regard, the departments of Social Development and Agriculture are leading the process. SASSA and Labour are also on board. In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Waste Management Unit is ensuring the safe disposal of carcasses on affected farms. These are some of the major initiatives at the moment.”

The JOC has initiated the following measures:

• Requested the National Disaster Management Centre’s guidance to potentially declare the outbreak a provincial disaster

• Facilitating access to financial and training schemes for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak

• The industry is liaising with the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Agriculture on vaccination

• Agricultural economists have started mapping the potential impact of the outbreak on jobs and food security

The JOC meets weekly to share updates in the following key areas:

Economic impact

Lead: Department of Agriculture/Department of Economic Development and Tourism

• Agricultural economists have started mapping the potential economic impact of the AI outbreak, and the Department of Agriculture is engaging industry and experts to provide further insights

• Such an assessment is normally done only after the impacts of a disaster are fully realised. At this stage, due to the complexity and dynamics of the current situation, economists have high-level estimates of the possible economic impact. These scenarios depend heavily on the specific assumptions made and how the situation will unfold in the coming weeks

• A conservative estimate puts the immediate cost of production losses of both hens and eggs in the region of R800m, not counting additional costs of labour and materials to do composting

• The overall economic impact will be more significant as many of the farms will lose income for a prolonged period due to quarantine restrictions and time taken to get back to full production, with an anticipated impact on jobs

• In terms of egg prices, moderate increases in the short term are projected, which could likely return to normal levels relatively quickly. This is of concern as more than 900,000 households buy eggs in the province and another 1.2 million households buy chicken meat – the main animal protein source for the majority of poor households

Environmental mitigation steps

Lead: Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP)

• A monitoring system was put in place to deal with the environmental impacts of the treatment or disposal of the dead birds. This was done in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Affairs and municipalities. The emergency procedures in Section 30A of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 is utilised to authorise the management option chosen by the owner of the farm/business

• The procedure, a form to be completed by the farm and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, allows for the monitoring of the biosecurity by the Department of Agriculture and the environmental impacts by the DEADP in collaboration with the municipalities in the affected area

Projected socio-economic impact

Lead: Department of Social Development (DSD)

• The loss of jobs could lead to further pressure on the families of the affected farm workers. This could have a further impact on poverty and hunger, and substance abuse

• DSD will work closely with the Department of Agriculture and the South African Social Security Agency, doing assessments of affected families, so that they can be linked to social relief benefits

• A humanitarian relief plan for the affected farming community will be drafted this week, in partnership with the relevant departments

Update on latest cases

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, which will then put preventative measures in place.

In respect of the 36 confirmed cases, the formal notification process has been concluded, and the below cases can, therefore, be made public.


District Species Group Species
1 Central Karoo Backyard/hobby birds Chickens
2 West Coast Backyard/hobby birds Geese, chickens
3 West Coast Backyard/hobby birds Geese, chickens
4 City of Cape Town Backyard/hobby birds Swans
5 West Coast Backyard/hobby birds Chickens, ducks, turkeys
6 West Coast Backyard/hobby birds Chickens
7 West Coast Backyard/hobby birds Geese
8 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
9 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
10 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
11 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
12 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
13 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
14 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
15 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
16 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
17 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
18 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
19 Eden Commercial ostriches Ostriches
20 City of Cape Town Commercial poultry Layer chickens
21 Cape Winelands Commercial poultry Layer chickens
22 Cape Winelands Commercial poultry Layer chickens
23 West Coast Commercial poultry Layer chickens
24 City of Cape Town Commercial poultry Ducks
25 City of Cape Town Commercial poultry Layer chickens
26 City of Cape Town Commercial poultry Ducks
27 City of Cape Town Commercial poultry Layer chickens
28 West Coast Commercial poultry Broiler breeder chickens
29 Cape Winelands Wild bird Peregrine falcon
30 Overberg Wild bird Guinea fowl
31 Cape Winelands Wild bird Laughing dove
32 Eden Wild bird Rock pigeon, Spur-winged goose
33 Eden Wild bird Guinea fowl
34 Eden Wild bird Blue crane
35 Overberg Wild bird Guinea fowl
36 West Coast Wild bird House sparrow



 Avian flu could cost industry R800m in province [Independent Online, 2 Oct, 2017]

by LISA ISAACS

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A spotted eagle owl at the World of Birds. The sanctuary remains open for visitors, despite being placed under quarantine. 
Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA

Early estimates project R800 million in immediate production losses to the poultry industry due to the avian influenza outbreak in the province.

This conservative figure includes the immediate cost of production losses of both hens and eggs, not counting additional costs of labour and materials to do composting, according to Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde.

Winde, along with department officials, briefed the media on the provincial government’s recovery plan to combat the impact of the avian flu outbreak on the agriculture sector.

Winde said so far 36 cases had been confirmed and 70 ostrich farms placed under quarantine.

More than 2 million birds have died or been culled.

Winde said a humanitarian relief plan was being drafted this week to support farming communities affected by the outbreak and monitoring systems were also in place to mitigate the environmental impact.

“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area.

“In the Western Cape, the outbreak has hit the Paardeberg area, the region with the highest concentration of poultry farms,” Winde said.

The provincial government has now convened a special Joint Operations Centre (JOC) comprising the provincial Agriculture Department, the provincial Disaster Management Centre, the departments of Social Development and Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

The JOC has requested the national Disaster Management Centre’s guidance to potentially declare the outbreak a provincial disaster. It has also initiated measures to facilitate access to financial and training schemes to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak.

The industry is also liaising with the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Agriculture on possible vaccination efforts.

Agricultural economist Louw Pienaar said consumers should also brace themselves for increases in the price of eggs and chicken meat.

“In the province we can expect much higher price increases up to R18, R19 going into the next few months, depending how the situation plays out.”

He said more than 900 000 households buy eggs in the province and another 1.2 million households buy chicken meat.

“We have a number of informal traders who enter this market and their businesses will also be affected, not only the commercial farms.”

There are 8000 employees in this industry, with about 1 200 workers in the province whose jobs could be affected, he added.

MEC of Environmental Affairs, Local Government and Development Planning Anton Bredell said:
“A big part of what we’re busy with includes looking after the wellbeing of affected farmworkers”

The SA Social Security Agency and Labour are also on board and the Department of Environmental Affairs’ waste management unit is ensuring the safe disposal of carcasses.

Winde said a humanitarian relief plan was being drafted this week to support farming communities affected by the outbreak and monitoring systems were also in place to mitigate the environmental impact.

“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area.

“In the Western Cape, the outbreak has hit the Paardeberg area, the region with the highest concentration of poultry farms,” Winde said.

The provincial government has now convened a special Joint Operations Centre (JOC) comprising the provincial Agriculture Department, the provincial Disaster Management Centre, the departments of Social Development and Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

The JOC has requested the national Disaster Management Centre’s guidance to potentially declare the outbreak a provincial disaster. It has also initiated measures to facilitate access to financial and training schemes to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak.

The industry is also liaising with the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Agriculture on possible vaccination efforts.

Agricultural economist Louw Pienaar said consumers should also brace themselves for increases in the price of eggs and chicken meat.

“In the province we can expect much higher price increases up to R18, R19 going into the next few months, depending how the situation plays out.”

He said more than 900 000 households buy eggs in the province and another 1.2 million households buy chicken meat.

“We have a number of informal traders who enter this market and their businesses will also be affected, not only the commercial farms.”

There are 8000 employees in this industry, with about 1 200 workers in the province whose jobs could be affected, he added.

MEC of Environmental Affairs, Local Government and Development Planning Anton Bredell said:

“A big part of what we’re busy with includes looking after the wellbeing of affected farmworkers”

The SA Social Security Agency and Labour are also on board and the Department of Environmental Affairs’ waste management unit is ensuring the safe disposal of carcasses.



 Bird flu costs the Western Cape an estimated R800m in production losses [Citizen, 2 Oct, 2017]

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The economic opportunities MEC says 70 ostrich farms are under quarantine and more than two million birds have either died or been culled.

Early estimates suggest an outbreak of avian influenza has led to production losses of about R800 million in the Western Cape, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said on Monday.

In a statement, Winde said there were at least 36 confirmed cases of avian flu. Seventy ostrich farms were under quarantine and more than two million birds had either died or been culled.

“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area. In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs,” said Winde.

“In the Western Cape, the outbreak has hit the Paardeberg area, the region with the highest concentration of poultry farms.”

The MEC said a joint operations centre (JOC) has been established to respond to the outbreak and a recovery plan, involving various stakeholders, is being put into effect.

Environmental Affairs, Local Government and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the provincial disaster management centre (PDMC) was assisting in “managing the crisis”.

“A big part of what we’re busy with currently includes looking after the wellbeing of affected farmworkers. In this regard, the departments of Social Development together with DOA are leading the process. SASSA and Labour are also on board,” said Bredell.

“In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Waste Management Unit is ensuring the safe disposal of carcasses on affected farms. These are some of the major initiatives at the moment.”

The JOC would request the National Disaster Management Centre to declare the outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu a provincial disaster.

In addition, the JOC would also facilitate a process of getting financial and training schemes in place to assist workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak.



 30 ostrich farms under quarantine due to Avian Flu [Independent Online, 2 Oct, 2017]

by SANDILE MCHUNU

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JOHANNESBURG - Western Cape province minister of economic opportunities Alan Winde said on Monday his province had suffered the most with reported cases of Avian Influenza in the country.

So far this year, the province has confirmed 36 cases and 70 ostrich farms are under quarantine.

Winde said in excess of 2 million birds had died as a result and some have been culled with at a cost project to around R800 million in immediate losses to the industry. In response to this outbreak, the Western Cape government has convened a Joint Operations Centre (JOC).

The JOC is being headed by the Western Cape department of agriculture, the provincial disaster management centre, the department of social development and the department of environmental affairs and development planning.

“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area. In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs,” Winde said.

620x349 ostrich.jpg


The outbreak has hit the Paardeberg area, the region with the highest concentration of poultry farms. Anton Bredell, minister of environmental affairs, local government and development planning, said the provincial disaster management centre (PDMC) was assisting the department of agriculture with the coordinatiason of steps to mitigate the effects of the avian influenza outbreak.

“The PDMC is also in constant communication with the National Disaster Management centre and the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF).

In August Astral Foods said the outbreak had cost the company R50m as two of its operations were affected.

The province said a Humanitarian Relief plan was being drafted this week to support farming communities affected by the outbreak and a monitoring system in place to mitigate environmental impact.

The government anticipates a moderate increase in egg prices in the short term which could likely return to normal levels relatively quickly. “This is of concern as more than 900 000 households buy eggs in the province and another 1.2 million households buy chicken meat, the main animal protein source for the majority of poor households,” the department said. -



 Over 2 million birds now dead in Western Cape's worst bird flu outbreak [Fin24, 2 Oct, 2017]

by James de Villiers

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Cape Town – More than two million birds have died or have been culled since an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza - or bird flu - was confirmed in the Western Cape in August, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said on Monday.

In a statement, Winde said that since August 36 cases of avian influenza had been confirmed in the province. In Winde's previous update in early September, the number of birds culled was 200 000.

This is the first time that a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has been detected in poultry in South Africa. There are an estimated 29 million commercially farmed chickens in the province, and 185 000 “backyard” birds. This means that near 7% of the province's birds have died.

"The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area.

"In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs," he said.

Twelve cases, all ostriches, have been confirmed in the Eden district.

Winde said the province had established a joint operations centre to facilitate the its response to the disaster.

"[The centre] requested the National Disaster Management Centre's guidance to potentially declare the outbreak a provincial disaster."

This is the first time that a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has been detected in poultry in South Africa.

R800m impact

He said the economic impact of avian influenza on the province was estimated to be in the region of R800m. This number is set to increase significantly as farms lose income from prolonged quarantine restrictions.

This will inevitably also lead to job losses.

Winde said a moderate increase in egg prices was expected in the short term to return levels to normal relatively quickly.

"This is of concern as more than 900 000 households buy eggs in the province and another 1.2 million households buy chicken meat – the main animal protein source for the majority of poor households," he said.

Humanitarian response plan

Western Cape environmental affairs, local government and development planning MEC Anton Bredell said the plight of farm workers was particularly concerning to the provincial department.

He said financial assessments were being completed with help from the South African Social Security Agency to determine whether or not farmworkers can receive social relief benefits.

A humanitarian response plan is set to be drafted by the end of the week.

"In addition, the department of environmental affairs' waste management unit is ensuring the safe disposal of carcasses on affected farms. These are some of the major initiatives at the moment," Bredell said.

Meanwhile wildlife sanctuary World of Birds in Hout Bay confirmed that one of its birds tested positive for avian influenza.

In a Facebook post, the sanctuary said it remains open to the public "but there will be conditions of entry."

Avian flu, also known as bird flu or HPAI H5N8, is an infection which commonly spreads among wild aquatic birds and can infect domestic poultry. It normally does not infect people and is treatable.

According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, the disease has been confirmed in more than 45 countries including Germany, France, the United Kingdom and India.

Dr Aileen Pypers, a state veterinarian for the Boland, previously told Fin24 there have been no reports of humans falling ill due to this strain of bird flu.

“We still have to be careful, however,’ she said.
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MERS-CoV News update from 4 July 2017


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Oman [World Health Organization, 10 Nov 2017]

On 1 November, the International Health Regulations (2005) national focal point of Oman reported one case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

Prior to this case, the most recent case of MERS-CoV from Oman was reported on 30 August 2017.

Details of the case

The patient, a 27-year-old male living in Sharqiyah Region, reported contact with dromedaries prior to symptom onset. Details of the case reported to WHO can be found in a separate document (see link below).

Globally, 2103 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 733 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

Public health response

Investigations are ongoing into the source of infection and exposure to other known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. The Ministry of Agriculture has been informed and investigations into dromedaries are ongoing. Contact tracing and follow up of 10 family contacts and all health care workers at the hospital/s where the patient was treated are ongoing. All identified contacts are monitored for 14 days from the last date of exposure.

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. Close direct or indirect contact with infected dromedaries is the source of human infections in the community.

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.

Community and household awareness of MERS and MERS prevention measures in the home may reduce household transmission and prevent community clusters.

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, in addition to avoiding close contact with suspected or confirmed human cases of the disease, people with these conditions should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be or potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, should be adhered to.

Food hygiene practices should be observed. People should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.


MERS infects 3 more in Saudi Arabia, 1 in Oman [CIDRAP, 6 Nov 2017]

by Lisa Schnirring

mers_virus-niaid_2.jpg
NIAID / Colorado State

In the latest MERS-CoV developments, health officials in Saudi Arabia reported three more MERS-CoV cases over the past few days, all in men from Riyadh who didn't appear to have contact with camels, and Oman reported its second infection of 2017.

Elsewhere, researchers from Israel said surveillance suggests the country's camels have likely been exposed to the virus in the past, but tests suggest no current circulation.

Primary exposure in Saudi cases

Yesterday, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two of the cases, both involving Saudi men ages 65 and 64. They have symptomatic illnesses and are listed in stable condition. Investigations into the source of their infections revealed that the men had primary exposure, meaning they probably didn't contract MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) from another person.

Today the MOH reported another illness in Riyadh, involving a 49-year-old Saudi man who also had symptoms and is listed in stable condition. The source of his illness was likewise found to be primary exposure. None of the three men is a healthcare worker.

Officials also reported that a previously announced patient has died, a 49-year-old Saudi man from Unayzah whom the MOH on Oct 31 said was in critical condition. According to the earlier report, he had indirect contact with camels. In today's report, the MOH said the man had an underlying health condition.

The new developments lift Saudi Arabia's total from the disease to 1,742 cases, 704 of them fatal. Nine people are still being treated for their infections.

Oman case involves man in his 20s

Elsewhere, Oman's health ministry recently reported the country's second MERS-CoV case of the year. In a Nov 2 statement it said the patient is a man in his twenties who is currently in stable condition at a referral hospital. The report didn't say where the man was from or how he may have been exposed to the virus.

Officials urged all referral hospitals to be ready to identify MERS cases through their surveillance systems and to manage the cases. The MOH added that it is collaborating with authorities to carry out the needed response steps.

Oman's other case this year was announced by the World Health Organization on Sep 12. It involved a 54-year-old man from Al Batinah region who had underlying health condition, wasn't a health worker, and had no contact with camels. Since 2012, Oman has reported 10 cases.

MERS-CoV exposure in Israeli camels

Scientists from Israel's Kimron Veterinary Institute said tests on the country's dromedary camels during 2015 and 2016 showed that some had MERS-CoV antibodies, hinting at exposure to the virus, but analysis of nasal swabs found no evidence of the virus, suggesting no active circulation.

Dan David and Yevgeny Khinich detailed the findings in response to a moderator query on a recent post from ProMED Mail on recent camel studies. ProMED Mail is the online reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

The two said the camel sampling was done in Israel's Negev region and that 477 nasal swabs were collected. Negev region is in southern Israel and borders Egypt and Jordan and is close to northeastern Saudi Arabia.

The ProMED moderators said the findings in Israel's indigenous dromedary camels isn't surprising, given its geographic location. Considering possible contact between local camel populations and those from neighboring countries, active surveillance—especially involving nasal swabs from young animals—should be continued and intensified, they said.


Ministry Confirms a Coronavirus case [Ministry of Health Sultanate of Oman, 2 Nov 2017]

The Ministry of Health confirmed on the 1st of November 2017 the diagnosis of a new case with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The patient is in his twenties and is currently in a stable condition and under medical care in one of the referral hospitals.

The Ministry hence stresses the readiness of all referral hospitals to deal with such cases through the effective applicable epidemiological surveillance system. Moreover, the MOH in collaboration with the relevant authorities proceed carrying out the necessary health measures.



 Countries agree to tackle MERS [CIDRAP, 27 Sep, 2017]

At a technical meeting this week in Geneva hosted by global health and veterinary organizations, health and agricultural leaders from 33 countries at risk for MERS transmission agreed to next steps taken to combat the coronavirus.

Though 80% of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases have been documented in Saudi Arabia, several countries in Africa and Asia are at risk because of the presence of dromedary camels, a known reservoir for the disease.

"It is in our common interest to address the disease in the human-animal interface, work across sectors and disciplines, together for the sake of our shared goals, healthy people and healthy animals," said Ahmed El Idrissi, MD, senior animal health officer with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a World Health Organization (WHO) press release. "In doing so we recognize the importance of a One Health approach to health threats of animal origin."

Moreover, because MERS-CoV thrives in hospital settings, a traveler could bring the disease to any country. This was seen in South Kora in 2015, when a traveler infected dozens of staff and patients

According to the WHO, there have been 2,081 laboratory confirmed cases of MERS-CoV since 2012 in 27 countries. The case-fatality rate for MERS is 35%.



 Countries agree next steps to combat global health threat MERS-CoV [World Health Organization, 27 Sep, 2017]

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Critical next steps to accelerate the response to the global public health threat posed by Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been agreed by representatives from the Ministries of Health and Ministries of Agriculture of affected and at risk countries, and experts. The virus, which circulates in dromedary camels without causing visible disease, can be fatal for humans.

At a meeting hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Geneva this week, more than 130 experts from 33 countries, organizations and research institutions met to share what is known about the virus, identify priority research needs, improve cross-collaboration between animal and human health sectors and agree on a plan to address crucial gaps.

“MERS is not only a regional threat. While the majority of human cases have been reported from the Middle-East, the outbreak in the Republic of Korea in 2015 showed MERS’ global reach and capacity to have significant public health and economic consequences,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, MERS-CoV Technical Lead in WHO’s Health Emergencies programme. “We are at the stage where we have to confront the challenges in our ability to detect and respond to MERS outbreaks and improve our knowledge about this virus through collaborative research,” she said.

Since 2012, when the virus was first identified in Saudi Arabia, there have been 2081 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection reported to WHO from 27 countries, with at least 722 deaths - a fatality rate of 35%. While progress has been made in research and surveillance, significant gaps remain in understanding the virus, including how it circulates in dromedary camels, the natural reservoir host, or how it spills over into the human population.

“MERS-CoV is a disease with a significant impact on public health, which requires further investigations in animal sources to better understand its epidemiology and improve its control in humans. OIE Member Countries are requested to notify any occurrences of MERS-CoV in animals. This crucial information will contribute to escalating a coordinated response from the animal and human health sectors”, said Dr Gounalan Pavade, Chargé de mission, OIE.

More than 80% of MERS cases have been reported from Saudi Arabia. While many of these people were infected in health care facilities, with improved data collection on MERS patients since 2015, a significant proportion of recently reported human cases are believed to have been exposed through direct or indirect contact with infected camels. Frequent international travel has allowed sporadic cases to be exported to every region of the world by individuals who are unknowingly infected before they travel.

“It is in our common interest to address the disease in the human-animal interface, work across sectors and disciplines, together for the sake of our shared goals, healthy people and healthy animals” said Dr Ahmed El Idrissi, Senior Animal Health Officer, FAO. “In doing so we recognize the importance of a One Health approach to health threats of animal origin”.

Human to human transmission remains limited, but health-care associated outbreaks have occurred in several countries in the Middle East and in the Republic of Korea. Infection prevention and control measures are vital to prevent the possible spread of the disease in hospitals and clinics and to protect health-care workers, visitors and other patients. No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available and treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.

MERS-CoV is one of the high threat pathogens included in the WHO’s Research & Development Blue Print which provides a road map for research and development of diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic products for prevention, early detection and response to these threats caused by a list of 11 high prioritized pathogens.

The MERS research priorities and activities being guided by WHO, FAO and OIE build on a series of regional and global meetings organized by the three organizations over the past five years.

While tremendous progress has been made, particularly at addressing some key unknowns about the behaviour of this virus in animals and humans, some fundamental gaps about MERS-CoV remain. The global community remains within the grip of this emerging infectious disease.



 UAE reports additional MERS case [Outbreak News Today, 23 Sep, 2017]

Affliates-banners12 UAE reports additional MERS case.png


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported one additional case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) infection in a a 78-year-old male residing in Al Ain city.

18114_lores UAE reports additional MERS case.jpg
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus /National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

This is the fourth case of MERS-CoV reported in Al Ain in recent months.

The Ministry of Health has identified and is following health care and household contacts. Laboratory testing for symptomatic and high-risk family contacts and health care workers is underway.

Globally, 2081 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 722 related deaths have been reported to WHO.



 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

hospitalcare.jpg
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.
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West Nile Fever News from 17 Jun 2017


California sees increase in West Nile virus deaths this year, compared to 2016 [LA Daily News, 13 Nov 2017]

By SUSAN ABRAM

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The culprit in spreading West Nile to humans.

More people were infected and died of West Nile virus across California this year compared to last year, especially in Los Angeles County. That’s where the number of infections peaked in September, recent data show.

Statewide, there have been 25 deaths so far this year, or six more than all of last year, according to recent data from the California Department of Public Health. In addition, 454 people from across the Golden State were infected this year, a 17 percent increase from 2016.

Though the end of the season is approaching, more reports of infections and deaths are likely, public health officials said.

In Southern California, Los Angeles County seemed to bear the brunt of both infections and deaths. So far, 235 people have been infected by the disease and 17 people have died,

including one person in Long Beach. The numbers surpass last year’s 153 cases and 6 deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Concerned about the rising spread of the disease, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health launched a campaign in September. Teams ventured out to distribute educational packets to more than 20,000 schools, houses of worship and community centers across the region. The goal was to encourage residents to wear insect repellent outdoors and to empty outdoor containers of any size that hold standing water, where mosquitoes tend to breed.

“The number of human cases with onset of illness through September is higher than the previous 5-year average,” Los Angeles health officials stated in the agency’s latest report.

Other Southern California counties also saw increases so far this year compared to 2016:

*Orange County has reported 34 people who have been infection this year compared to 32 last year. Three people have died.

*In Riverside County, there were 24 people infected so far this year, compared to 11 last year. There have been no deaths reported to the state.

*San Bernardino County reported that 41 residents have become ill so far this year, compared to 8 last year. Two people have died.

It’s unclear why there was so much infection, but there could be several contributing factors said Dr. Vicki Kramer, chief of vector-borne diseases for the state Department of Public Health.

“The level of West Nile virus fluctuates from year to year, region to region, because there’s so many factors, such as climatic features,” Kramer said. Los Angeles County saw warmer fall temperatures this year. Also, there was more rain across the state.

Known as a disease of wild birds, West Nile virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Infection occurs between mosquitoes and birds. In rare cases, a person can be become ill through a blood transfusion.

Kramer said there are some years when the bird population is lower, or in some cases, more resistant to the virus. The virus doesn’t always spread during rainier seasons, she noted.
In 2014, a drought year, there were 801 people infected with West Nile virus and 31 deaths.

The following year also saw drought. Less Californians were infected, but 53 people died.

Kramer said that shows that the disease may flourish when there less water resources can stagnate. Mosquitoes and birds then compete for those resources, passing on the disease.

The state also has been monitoring the Zika virus, but has seen no local transmissions, even though the mosquito that carries the disease is in some California communities. Most people who have been infected with Zika have traveled out of the country, Kramer said. Unlike West Nile virus, Zika is passed from mosquito to person, then person to person through sex, or mother to unborn child.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not become seriously ill, but some experience flu-like symptoms. About 1 percent of them can develop serious neurological illness. People who are 50 and older or who have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure have the greatest risk of developing complications such as meningitis and encephalitis, health officials say.

Though West Nile virus has been in California for more than a decade, Kramer said the disease and the mosquitoes that carry it, continue to be a great risk to state residents.



 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]

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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 till 1 Oct 2017




 WORLD OF BIRDS IN CT HIT BY BIRD FLU [Eyewitness News, 1 Oct, 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.

CAPE TOWN - Staff are pulling together after an outbreak of avian influenza at Africa's largest bird park situated in Cape Town.

At least 62 cases of the deadly H5N8 influenza strain which include an outbreak among poultry and non-poultry animals have been reported throughout the country since June.

That's according to the latest data submitted by the Department of Agriculture to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The World of Birds, which houses 2500 birds, has become the latest victim after a chicken at the sanctuary tested positive.

General Manager Hendrik Louw says just under 200 birds had to be culled.

He adds although some birds have been placed under quarantine the park will remain open to visitors.

“It’s a very testing time for us because it’s the first time we have been hit by something like this.

Staff are pulling together and everybody is on board and trying to help us.”



 RVC researchers find link to spread of avian flu in Asia [vet times, 29 Sep, 2017]

by David Woodmansey

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Traditional poultry farming methods in the Mekong Delta exacerbate risk of potentially deadly avian flu spreading beyond Vietnam and across wider south-east Asia.

A team of researchers has established a link between the use of free-grazing ducks to help farm the land in Vietnam and the spread of avian influenza (AI) within the country.

Free-grazing ducks are a central part of traditional farming methods in Vietnam, where large flocks are transported by truck and boat to rice paddy fields within the Mekong Delta region to prepare the land after harvest and provide natural fertiliser.

Quantitative analysis

Led by Dirk Pfeiffer, professor of epidemiology at the RVC, the team tracked the peculiar characteristics of the complex free-grazing duck system using quantitative analysis to assess exactly how multiple flocks of thousands of birds come into close contact with each other.

Although poorly understood to date, this traditional method of feeding has unwittingly provided a perfect system for the spread of the AI virus. Key elements include that ducks do not show clinical symptoms of disease when infected, and their transport around the country brings them into contact with many other domestic bird populations, particularly poultry.

Tested positive

Researchers found a third of the investigated flocks tested positive for the influenza A virus.
Separate, but connected, research also investigated the trade practices in the region, specifically looking into the export of duck eggs and spent layer ducks often sent to Cambodia and China for consumption.

The findings of this research can be considered by the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development when developing risk assessment models of influenza virus spread.

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Free-grazing ducks are a central part of traditional farming methods in Vietnam. IMAGE: RVC.



 H5N6 strikes again in Vietnam; H7N7 found South Korea [CIDRAP 28 Sep, 2017]

Animal health officials in Vietnam have detected a highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu outbreak in poultry, and South Korean authorities have found the H7N7 strain in wild bird droppings at a location in the south, according to media reports flagged by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.

In Vietnam, the virus was found on a family farm in Kon Tum province in the central part of the country after poultry deaths were first noted on Sep 22. District official ordered 4,700 ducks, geese, and chickens to be destroyed, as well as 3,000 eggs. The report said the same farm was hit by an H5N6 outbreak in 2016.

According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Vietnam's last H5N6 outbreak occurred in April.

Meanwhile, officials in South Korea's North Gyeongsang province said tests have found H7N7 in excrement in wild birds from the city of Yeongcheon. Tests are under way to assess the pathogenicity of the virus. Authorities have quarantined the area and placed a temporary ban on poultry movement.

South Korean officials last reported H7N7 in December 2016, when it appeared alongside H7N2 in wild bird samples.



 H5N3 Avian Influenza Outbreak Reported in France [ThePoultrySite.com, 28 Sep, 2017]

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FRANCE - Dr Loic Evain has reported an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza at a farm in Maine-et-Loire.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the outbreak was reported on 26 September after presence of the H5N3 strain was confirmed on 25 September.

Nucleotide sequencing and real-time reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR) tests were carried out at the ANSES Reference National Laboratory for Avian Influenza, Ploufragan, confirming the presence of the LPAI virus.

A total of 8500 birds have been found susceptible, out of which six turkey deaths were reported.

The OIE reports that samples were taken in the framework of a clinical suspicion (eggs drop) in a turkey breeding farm.

A one-km protection zone was implemented around the outbreak. Stamping out of the turkeys took place on 26 and 27 September.

The source of the outbreak has not yet been determined, and as a result, several control measures have been applied, some which include:

・Movement control inside the country

・Screening

・Traceability

・Stamping out

・Surveillance within containment and/or protection zone

・Zoning

Vaccination has been prohibited and there has been no treatment of affected birds.

28Sept17LPAI.jpg



 Massive cull to stop avian flu costs Zim company $7.2m [Fin24, 28 Sep, 2017]

by Malcom Sharara,

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Harare - Irvine’s, one of Zimbabwe’s largest food producers, suffered losses of $7.2m after culling chickens due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Irvine’s parent company Innscor on Wednesday said that it had culled 835 000 birds after an avian influenza outbreak at one of its farms.

“With the help of the responsible authorities, we culled 835 000 birds made up of broiler breeders and layer breeders,” said Innscor CEO Julian Schonken.

“We decided to cull all the birds at the affected farm to make sure that the disease does not recur,” said Schonken, adding that the company also brought experts from outside the country to make sure that everything is under control.

He said some chicken houses have since been closed, while the company is also importing new equipment to test the birds for diseases in the future.

Schonken said the company would need about $5.6m for the farm to recover.



 Reports of HPAI H5N6 In Vietnam, H7N7 In South Korea [Avian Flu Diary, 26 Sep, 2017]

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With October only days away, this is the time of year when we start looking for an uptick in bird flu reports - partially because of cooler autumn temperatures - and partially because in the fall migratory birds head south from their high latitude summer roosting grounds.

Today we've two media reports of avian flu activity; one from Vietnam and one from South Korea.

First from Vietnam, which hasn't reported an outbreak of H5N6 since April, we get the following report:

Appear outbreak of influenza A / H5N6 in poultry in Kontum

SGGP 26/09/2017 16:29 GMT+7

26-9, Livestock and Veterinary Station (T-TY) Dak Ha district (Kon Tum) officially tested specimens from the Animal Health Agency Region 5. The result, the samples were taken nearly 4,700 poultry on the family Tran Duc Hoa positive for influenza virus A / H5N6.

Earlier, on 22-9, nearly 4,700 poultry son of Mr. Tran Duc Hoa family (living in Thanh Xuan village, Dak Ngoc commune, Dak Ha District, Kon Tum) was sick and dead simultaneously. Immediately after receiving the report, Station T-TY Dak Ha district took samples sent for testing at the Regional Veterinary Authority 5 (Dak Lak).

In 26-9, immediately after receiving the test results, Station T-TY Dak Ha district administration in collaboration with Dak and his family Ngoc Hoa organized destruction of entire 4,700 birds (ducks, geese, chickens) and 3,000 eggs. At the same time, T-TY Station district veterinary officer appointed to coordinate local authorities continue to monitor the outbreak; guide farmers to conduct disinfection, management of landfills and poultry.

This is the 2nd time in 2 consecutive years, influenza A / H5N6 appeared in poultry Hoa of his family. Earlier, in May 1-2016, influenza A / H5N6 has also appeared on the 2,100 poultry, prompting his family Hoa to destroy, damage more than 140 million.

HONG NAM

H5N6 first appeared in Vietnam in the summer of 2014, and we've seen sporadic outbreaks there - and in Laos - since then. H5N1 still plagues the region (see Vietnam: Thousands Of Vaccinated Chickens Die Of Suspected H5N1) and Vietnam hopes to deploy a locally produced - and hopefully more effective - vaccine next year.

Vietnam's biggest avian flu concern remains the incursion of H7N9 out of China, which was reported within 100 km of their northern border last spring (see H7N9 Inches Closer To Vietnam's Northern Border).

Meanwhile, from South Korea we get this report on the environmental detection of H7N9 (pathogenicity to be determined) in North Gyeongsang Province.
Avian flu virus found in bird excretions in rural city

2017/09/26 22:21

SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean provincial government said Tuesday that the avian influenza (AI) virus had been found in bird excretions in the southern part of the country.

The government of North Gyeongsang Province said the H7N7 strain of avian influenza was detected in the excretions of wild birds in Yeongcheon, 344 kilometers south of Seoul.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will check to see if the virus is highly pathogenic by Friday though most of the H7N7-type viruses found in North Gyeongsang Province have turned out to be weakly pathogenic, the provincial government said.

The Gyeongbuk government and Yeongcheon city have designated everything within a 10 kilometer radius of the virus detection point under quarantine, banning poultry farms from relocating hens, ducks and geese until the examination is completed.

In the Gyeongbuk area, a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu broke out in November last year.

(END)

You may recall that South Korea Reported both LPAI H7N7 & H7N2 In Wild Birds in December of 2016, an event which was overshadowed by the arrival and rapid spread of HPAI H5N6 though South Korea's poultry industry.

There are two broad categories of avian influenza; LPAI (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza) and HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza).

・LPAI viruses are quite common in wild birds, cause little illness, and only rarely death. They are not considered to be a serious health to public health. The concern is (particularly with H5 & H7 strains) that LPAI viruses have the potential to mutate into HPAI strains.

・HPAI viruses are more dangerous, can produce high morbidity and mortality in wild birds and poultry, and can sometimes infect humans with serious result. The type of bird flu scientists have been watching closely for the past decade has been HPAI H5 (and to a lesser extent HPAI H7s & H9s).

Before the middle of the last decade, there was no uniform requirement to report or track LPAI infections. That changed in 2006 when the OIE made reporting of all H5 & H7 viruses mandatory.

The finding of LPAI H7 viruses in Korean wild birds is therefore not terribly surprising, and under normal circumstance would scarcely warrant a mention.

But with the feared return of highly promiscuous and mutable clade 2.3.4.4. H5N6 and/or H5N8 this fall, and very dangerous HPAI & LPAI H7N9 viruses spreading next door in China, the addition of H7N7 to South Korea's constellation of circulating avian flu viruses is a complication they could probably do without.

Posted by Michael Coston at 11:21 AM



 WC AGRICULTURE DEPT DEALING WITH 26 CONFIRMED CASES OF BIRD FLU [Eyewitness News, 21 Sep, 2017]

by Monique Mortlock

The first case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, strain H5N8 virus in the Western Cape was detected in August in the Heidelberg area on two ostrich farms.

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

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Agriculture Department is dealing with 26 confirmed cases of bird flu in the province.

And by the end of this week, about two million chickens and ducks would have been culled as a result of the outbreaks.

The first case of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain H5N8 virus in the province was detected last month in the Heidelberg area on two ostrich farms.

The department’s Petro van Rhyn said this is the first time the poultry industry is affected by avian influenza.

“Previously it only affected ostriches… and going forward, we will continue to work with the private sector to mitigate the impact of the disease. The decision to vaccinate can only be made by the Department of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.”

Van Rhyn adds that the department has partnered with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre to establish a joint operations centre.

“This centre is implementing our risk mitigation and support strategy. Part of the centre’s focus is also assistance to employees and affected farms as well as an investigation into the economic implications of this outbreak.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)



 Avian flu virus found in bird excretions in rural city [The Korea Herald, 17 Sep, 2017]

by Yonhap

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(Yonhap)

A South Korean provincial government said Tuesday that the avian influenza virus had been found in bird excretions in the southern part of the country.

The government of North Gyeongsang Province said the H7N7 strain of avian influenza was detected in the excretions of wild birds in Yeongcheon, 344 kilometers south of Seoul.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will check to see if the virus is highly pathogenic by Friday though most of the H7N7-type viruses found in North Gyeongsang Province have turned out to be weakly pathogenic, the provincial government said.

The Gyeongbuk government and Yeongcheon city have designated everything within a 10 kilometer radius of the virus detection point under quarantine, banning poultry farms from relocating hens, ducks and geese until the examination is completed.

In the Gyeongbuk area, a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu broke out in November last year. (Yonhap)



 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

jkt6hyjmbykmbbm60kh3--.jpg
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

gettyimages-635563542-61_custom-7113e47395478696610f51208ff7caeb39c9b803-s1400-c85.jpg
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]

imgID124586013.jpg.gallery.jpg
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



 WATCH: 2 million birds dead from avian flu, egg shortage looms [News24, 4 Oct, 2017]

by Aletta Harrison,

Cape Town - "The emotional impact for us as a family business has been severe," explains Pier Passerini.

As the managing director of Windmeul Eggs, Passerini is in the unenviable position of steering a 40-year-old family business through the catastrophic impacts of the avian influenza outbreak.

Located near Wellington, the business is among several in the Western Cape that have been forced to cull hundreds of thousands of hens in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly H5N8 virus, although the birds often die faster than they can kill them.

He says the industry is in complete shock.

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An estimated two million birds have died or been culled in the Western Cape. Picture: Supplied, News24.

"Most of us, when we speak to each other, are at a loss for words. You know it’s something that was always in the back of your mind as a poultry farmer; you’ve read about in other countries… it’s a nightmare that just happened to become reality…"

The H5N8 strain, which was first detected on 22 June, quickly spread and, at last count, was detected at 36 locations across the province.

Laying farms have been worst affected, with the Western Cape accounting for the majority of cases.

"The poultry industry in the Western Cape is quite concentrated," explains State Veterinarian Dr Lesley van Helden.

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"It’s concentrated close to Cape Town, which is obviously where the market for poultry is mainly. And the problem with this is a lot of the farms are within a few kilometres of each other, so it’s much easier for a virus to spread between the farms than if the farms were further apart," Van Helden says.

The result has been the disposal of birds in their millions, and the composting of the carcasses to try and prevent contagion.

Passerini says Windmeul has now lost 70% of its flock to the outbreak, and that the trauma of witnessing death on this scale has affected his whole family and his employees.

"To see tons and tons of birds being disposed of on a daily basis is difficult; it’s difficult for our staff that’s been with us for many years; it’s difficult for us as a family – it’s not easy to see."

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Farmers have been instructed to dispose of the carcasses by composting them on site. Picture: Supplied, News24.

The consequences are far reaching. The Western Cape government estimates the immediate industry losses to be R800m, but stated on Monday that the long term financial impact is likely to be around R4bn.

According to Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde, the informal economy has been most affected thus far, with the cull bird market in "big trouble".

"Now we’ll start to actually see it in the formal economy, on the shelves in your retailers," he warned.

Of great concern to the provincial government is how this will impact poor households who rely on chicken meat and eggs as their main source of affordable protein.

A light at the end of the tunnel?

While farmers are trying to convince state officials to give permission for vaccinations, the Western Cape government is hoping the change in seasons will help stem the spread of the virus.

"One of the other areas that also helps us is that it’s getting warmer. And you know with humans and flu – we are more susceptible to flu in winter time. As we move to summer, we are less susceptible to flu and the same thing obviously with Avian Influenza…" Winde said.

But for farmers busy floundering in the wake of the outbreak, simply waiting for summer to take care of the problem may not feel like an appropriate response.

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"At this moment in time, there are no solutions," says Passerini.

"And I think that’s the most difficult thing for us as a company to process, because there currently isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel… If we have to repopulate the farms that have gone through this virus, there are no guarantees that in two weeks’ time it won’t happen again…"

He believes vaccinating hens is the only option, but is facing a frustrating wait for permission.
"We are talking to government to try and speed up the process, but we’re not getting the feedback that we require," he explains.

"It’s the only answer at this moment in time; it’s the only solution that can save the industry from total annihilation… We know it comes with other consequences for trade, but at least you’re not carrying the financial losses.

"At this moment in time, I think it’s the only solution.”



 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]

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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]

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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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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]

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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.

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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

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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

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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]

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 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)

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 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

rk_170808_asahi05.jpg
 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) 

台風で汚染水1万トン 福島第1原発、地下水流入 [産経ニュース, 2017年11月16日]

東京電力福島第1原発1~4号機の建屋地下に流入する地下水の量が、10月の台風に伴う降雨の影響により、同月の1カ月間で推定約1万トン近くに上ったことが16日、分かった。流入した地下水は建屋地下にたまっている汚染水と混ざり新たな汚染水になったとみられる。東電は「一時的な増加で、汚染水を保管するタンクの容量がただちに不足することはない」と説明している。

福島市で同日開かれた経済産業省の「廃炉・汚染水対策現地調整会議」で報告された。経産省資源エネルギー庁の木野正登廃炉・汚染水対策官は「雨水対策を講じなければ、汚染水の増加を繰り返す。迅速に対策を実施するよう、東電に求めていく」と話した。

東電によると、建屋地下への流入量は、今年に入ってから1日当たり百数十トン程度で推移していたが、10月は同約310トンに急増。1カ月間で1万トン近くになった計算になる。



 原発事故、国と東電に賠償命令…福島地裁 [読売新聞, 2017年10月10日]

東京電力福島第一原発事故を巡り、福島県在住者ら3824人が国と東電に損害賠償などを求めた集団訴訟で、福島地裁(金沢秀樹裁判長)は10日、国と東電の責任を認め、賠償を命じる判決を言い渡した。

同種の集団訴訟の判決は、前橋、千葉訴訟に続き3例目。前橋判決は国の責任を認めたが、千葉判決では認められず、福島地裁の判断に注目が集まっていた。



 原発避難、東電に賠償命令…国の責任は認めず [読売新聞, 2017年09月22日]

東京電力福島第一原発事故で、福島県から千葉県に避難した18世帯45人が、国と東電に慰謝料など総額約28億円の損害賠償を求めた訴訟で、千葉地裁(阪本勝裁判長)は22日、東電に対し、原告のうち42人に計約3億7600万円を支払うよう命じた。

一方、国の賠償責任は認めず、双方に賠償を命じた3月の前橋地裁判決(原告、被告ともに控訴中)と判断が分かれた。

全国で28件が係争中の原発避難者による集団訴訟のうち、2例目の判決。前橋訴訟と同様、津波の予見可能性と賠償基準の妥当性が主な争点となった。

判決では、国の地震調査研究推進本部が2002年7月に公表した地震活動への長期評価を踏まえ、国が遅くとも06年の時点で巨大津波が起きうると予見できたと判断。しかし、ただちに規制権限を行使して東電に事故防止策を指示しなかったことが著しく不合理とは言えず、違法性はなかったとして、国への訴えを退けた。仮に対策を講じていても、巨大津波による事故は「回避できなかった可能性もある」とも指摘した。

東電については、原子力損害賠償法に基づく賠償責任はあるが、「津波対策を完全に放置したとまで評価できない」と指摘した。

前橋地裁判決は、国も東電も津波を予見でき、事故を防げたはずなのに、対策を講じていなかったとの判断を示していた。

賠償額の妥当性を巡っては、国の指針に基づく慰謝料は「最低限の基準」であり、指針を超えることは当然あるとし、東電が支払った賠償金を超えた分の支払いを命じた。

その上で、原告が求めていた〈1〉避難に伴う精神的苦痛への慰謝料(1人月額50万円)〈2〉生活の本拠やコミュニティーから離れざるを得なくなった「ふるさと喪失」に対する慰謝料(一律2000万円)〈3〉土地や家屋などの財物賠償――を原告ごとに検討。「ふるさと喪失」については、36人に1人あたり最大1000万円の支払いを東電に命じた。

また、避難指示区域外などからの自主避難についても、事故直後の情報不足の中、放射線被曝ひばくへの恐怖や不安を抱くことは一般感覚に照らしても無理はないと指摘。「避難に合理性があれば賠償の対象になり得る」として、1世帯4人に30万円ずつの慰謝料を認めた。

判決を受け、原告側弁護団の滝沢信事務局長は「国の違法性はないとした不当判決」と述べ、控訴する方針を示した。東電は「判決を精査し、対応を検討する」とコメントし、原子力規制庁は「国の主張が認められたと聞いている」とした。



 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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