In quickly evolving developments over the past few days, Greece announced its first highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza detection, with the virus also suspected in a spate of outbreaks in Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, H5N6 and H7N9 activity sparked actions to curb the viruses in different parts of China, while outbreaks in Japan and South Korea continue to take a toll and several countries in Europe, India, and Israel continue to battle more outbreaks from H5N8 as well as other strains.

European developments span 8 countries

In Greece, tests on a mute swan found on Dec 14 in a natural park near the Evros River delta in the eastern part of the country died of H5N8 avian flu, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In Bulgaria, one of Greece’s northern neighbors, the agriculture ministry on Dec 22 reported eight H5 outbreaks: five in backyard poultry, one on a farm, one in captive mallard ducks at a nature park, and one involving a pair of grey herons found dead at a different nature park.

According to the OIE report, the outbreaks span five provinces: Vidin and Vratsa in the northwest of the country, Plovdiv in the south-central region, Sofia in the west, and Yambol in the east.

Of 4,417 poultry, the virus sickened 83, killing 73. Officials culled the remaining 4,344 birds to curb the spread of the virus.

Bulgaria’s H5 outbreaks come in the wake of H5N8 detections in neighboring countries, including Serbia and Romania.

Elsewhere in Europe, several countries that have already reported H5N8 reported new detections, including:

  • France, which reported highly pathogenic H5N8 on seven more farms, most housing ducks, in Gers and Hautes-Pyrenees department in the hard-hit southwest of the country, according to three separate reports to the OIE. Also, the country’s agriculture ministry in more new reports reported a low-pathogenic H5N8 outbreak from Landes department, outbreaks from southwestern departments involving two other low-pathogenic strains (H5N1 and H5N3), and more highly pathogenic H5N8 in a pair of wild ducks found dead in Manche department in the northwest.
  • Poland reported four more H5N8 outbreaks at poultry farms, plus another in backyard birds and two more involving wild birds (gulls and a swan). The farm outbreaks occurred in Lubuskie province in the west and Malopolske province in the south and led to the culling of 27,360 birds.
  • England and Wales reported more H5N8 in wild birds after recently reporting their first cases, according to a Dec 23 update from the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The latest detections in England involve dead wild widgeons in Somerset and Leicestershire, and the one in Scotland involves a peregrine falcon in the Dumfries and Galloway council area.
  • Sweden reported H5N8 in wild birds from three areas in the southeastern part of the country, according to an OIE report today. Species included a crow, a sparrow hawk, and a tufted duck.
  • Germany today reported five more outbreaks, four at farms and one in backyard birds, an OIE report said. The farm outbreaks all involved turkeys, and between them and the backyard event the virus killed 861 birds and 50,453 survivors were culled to control the spread of the virus. Four of the events occurred in Lower Saxony state and the other took place in North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Source: CIDRAP