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An avian influenza virus that emerged in 2013 is suddenly spreading widely in China, causing a sharp spike in human infections and deaths. Last month alone it sickened 192 people, killing 79, according to an announcement this week by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission in Beijing.
The surge in human cases is cause for alarm, says Guan Yi, an expert in emerging viral diseases at the University of Hong Kong in China. “We are facing the largest pandemic threat in the last 100 years,” he says.
As of 16 January, the cumulative toll from H7N9 was 918 laboratory-confirmed human infections and 359 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite its high mortality rate, H7N9 had gotten less attention of late than two other new strains—H5N8 and H5N6—that have spread swiftly, killing or forcing authorities to cull millions of poultry. But so far, H5N8 has apparently not infected people; H5N6 has caused 14 human infections and six deaths.
All human H7N9 cases have been traced to exposure to the virus in mainland China, primarily at live poultry markets. The strain likely resulted from a reshuffling of several avian influenza viruses circulating in domestic ducks and chickens, Guan’s group reported in 2013. Studies in ferrets and pigs have shown that H7N9 more easily infects mammals than H5N1, a strain that sparked pandemic fears a decade ago. There have been several clusters of H7N9 cases in which human-to-human transmission “cannot be ruled out,” but there is “no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission,” according to an analysis of recent developments that WHO posted online last week. WHO’s analyses of viral samples so far “do not show evidence of any changes in known genetic markers of virulence or mammalian adaptation,” WHO’s China Representative Office in Beijing wrote in an email to Science.
Still, there are worrisome riddles. One is that H7N9 causes severe disease in people but only mild or even no symptoms in poultry. The only previous example of that pattern, Guan says, is the H1N1 strain responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 50 million to 100 million people.
A menace again
After two quiet years, human cases of the H7N9 bird flu virus in mainland China spiked sharply at the end of last year, provoking renewed fears of an influenza pandemic.
Because poultry infected with H7N9 show few symptoms, the virus has spread stealthily, coming to the attention of authorities only after human victims appeared. Determining where the virus is circulating requires testing chickens and collecting environmental samples from live poultry markets.
Human infections have followed a consistent pattern, dropping to zero during summer, picking up in the fall, and peaking in January. During the fifth wave of H7N9 that began last fall, authorities noticed an early and sudden uptick in cases, with 114 human infections from September to December 2016, compared with 16 cases during the same months in 2015 and 31 in 2014, according to a surveillance report. The report notes that the virus has spread geographically, with 23 counties in seven eastern Chinese provinces reporting their first human cases last fall.
“It is too late to contain the virus in poultry,” Guan says. He predicts that the virus will continue to spread in China’s farms, possibly evolving into a strain that would be pathogenic for poultry. Authorities have culled more than 175,000 birds this winter to stamp out local outbreaks of H7N9 and other avian flu strains. Further spread of H7N9 “will naturally increase human infection cases,” Guan says.
H7N9 may also spread beyond China’s borders, either through the poultry trade or through migratory birds. The virus has not been reported in poultry outside China. However, warns WHO’s Beijing office, “continued vigilance is needed.”
Courtesy of sciencemag.org
The Adamawa State government has destroyed over 24,000 various species of birds infected with avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu.
The farm manager of Adda-Rogo, where the bird flu outbreak occurred, Muhammed Hassan, said over 24,000 fowls, 250 peacocks, 456 guinea fowls and 54 Turkeys affected had been destroyed.
Speaking shortly after the disposal of the birds at Adda-Rogo Poultry Farm in Toungo Local Government Area, the commissioner for Livestock Production, Isa Salihu, said the federal and state governments had taken precautionary measures to curtail spread of the disease.
Mr. Salihu said all affected poultry farms and poultry workers in the area had been quarantined.
“We thank God for quick intervention to contain the disease from spreading to other poultry farms in the area.
“Already the state government has massively embarked on sensitization campaign for people to avoid having contact with dead birds or eating infected birds,” Mr. Salihu said.
He added that the state government had restricted movements of birds, eggs and other related animals, being part of measures to contain the disease.
Courtesy of allafrica.com
Three more outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported in France, bringing the total number of outbreaks to thirteen.
In Landes, an outbreak of the H5N9 strain in Horsarieux was detected in a breeding flock of over three and a half million chickens, ducks and guinea fowl.
Another H5N9 outbreak was found further south, in Arroses in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region. It affected 1500 breeding ducks.
Finally, a H5N2 outbreak in Manciet in the Gers region (see map below) was detected in a flock of 8300 breeding ducks. 250 of the birds died and the rest were destroyed.
Thousands of birds have already died and been destroyed in these outbreaks.
A third outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza has also been reported. The H5N2 outbreak occurred in Castelnau de Mandailles in Aveyron region, and affected a flock of 6120 ducks, which were all destroyed.
Courtesy of thepoultrysite.com
Nam Dinh Province in northern Vietnam has announced an outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu virus H5N6 at two communes.
A statement from the province, which is around 90 kilometers from Hanoi, said it has culled more than 3,300 sick fowls and managed to contain the outbreak.
Agriculture officials said the virus strain can be passed to humans and it is as dangerous as H5N1.
H5N1 has killed 65 people in Vietnam, one of the highest fatality rates in the world, since it recurred in 2003.
Vietnam has reported only a couple of bird flu outbreaks this year, but the agriculture ministry said in a statement earlier this month sporadic infections had been reported.
“So there are risks of possible outbreaks across the country,” it said.
Courtesy of thanhniennews.com
By April 13, 2015, over 202, 000 deaths of chicken and estimated losses of over 3 billion CFA Francs (about 5 million U.S. dollars) had been reported in Burkina Faso following the confirmation of an outbreak of bird flu in early April.
A source from the ministry in charge of animal resources said on Wednesday that bird flu had been reported in five of the country’s 45 provinces, and it had killed 200,000 hens and 2,000 guinea fowls.
Close to 11.4 million poultry are exposed to the disease.
Due to this situation, the ministry has reinforced its counterattack measures that include destruction of bodies of birds that died from contamination, killing of already infected poultry and sensitization of the population on measures to be taken, the director of veterinary services Lassiana Ouattara said.
Burkina Faso has already mobilized 390 million CFA Francs to fund this counterattack plan, and has appealed for additional support of 2.6 billion CFA Francs from technical and financial partners.
The H5N1 bird flu virus can affect individuals in close contact with infected or dead birds. Statistics from the World Health Organization show that the disease has killed over 400 people in the world since 2003.
Since the confirmation of bird flu, several neighbouring countries have banned the importation of poultry from Burkina Faso, the second highest foreign exchange earner for the country after the mining sector.
Courtesy of spyghana.com
The Uttar Pradesh government has directed culling of infected fowls after a bird flu alert in the state following the deaths of hundreds of hens reportedly owing to avian influenza in the Amethi district, about 150 km from here.
According to official sources here on Sunday, about 500 hens have died at several villages in Sukul Bazar area in Amethi in the past few days. “Tests proved that the birds died of highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said the officials here.
The Centre had alerted the state about the outbreak, and asked it to take necessary measures, said the sources.
“All district magistrates and commissioners have been asked to take every possible step to check the spread of the disease. Infected birds must be culled immediately,” said the officials. A control room has been set-up in the state capital for effective monitoring of the steps.
Sources said the deaths were reported initially from a few villages in the district in the first week of this month. “Within a short span of time, the number of dead fowls crossed 500,” said the officials. This prompted the alert.
Courtesy of deccanherald.com