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Avian Influenza: 100 Day Update

Summary of the situation in the UK: 

  • It is over 100 days since the first outbreak of HPAI H5N8 was confirmed in a small flock of commercial turkeys in Louth, Lincolnshire, on 16th December 2016.
  • Since then, there has been 9 more outbreaks in commercial poultry, game birds (3) and backyard flocks (3).
  •  All restrictions around infected premises have been lifted as of 00:01 on 29/03/17.
  • There have been 23 findings of AI in wild birds across the UK. 42 out of the 581 wild birds tested for AI during the period November 2016 and March 2017 were positive. The species that tested positive were wigeons, a peregrine falcon, several geese species,  pochard/mallard/tufted ducks, gulls, cormorants, mute/whooper/swans (including the swans at the Abbotsbury Swannery), teals, a buzzard snd a kestrel.  The most recent positive find was in Somerset (mute swan) on 10/03/17.
  • The AI Prevention Order remains in place across GB and NI until 30th April 2017.

Summary of the situation in Europe: 

  • This strain of HPAI H5N8 was first found during routine monitoring around Lake Ubsu-Nur in Russia in June 2016.
  • HPAI H5N8 was first detected in the EU on 27 October 2016 in one wild bird (mute swan) Hungary.
  • Since then, the virus has been identified in wild birds in further 23 Member States: Germany, Croatia, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Romania, France, Bulgaria, Greece, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Belgium and most recently in Lithuania. Detections in wild birds are continuing mainly in migratory duck species (e.g. tufted duck) as well as swans, sea gulls and birds of prey.
  • 17 Member States have reported disease in poultry/captive (ie zoos or private collections) (Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Romania, France, Bulgaria, Greece, UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Spain and Poland. Member States with a high density of duck and geese holdings have been most affected.
  • Over 1000 outbreaks of H5N8 in poultry but also H5N5 and H5N6 have been reported.
  • There has been a steady rate of detections across Europe with 50 outbreaks in Member States over the past two weeks – average of 3.5 outbreaks a day.
  • Areas that had seen a lull of a few weeks in outbreaks (eg. Netherlands and Germany) have reported new cases.
  • France has seen over 450 outbreaks and culled over 1.5 million ducks.
  • Secondary spread through company vehicles was responsible for further spread of the virus in turkey farms in the Cloppenburg district of Niedersachen (Lower Saxony) a high poultry density state.
  • Member States that have recently report cases are: France/Germany/Hungary/Bulgaria/Croatia (H5N5)/Italy/Czech Republic.
  • The H5N6 and H5N5 strains found are of a European strain.
  • Housing orders remain in place in a number of Member States including the Netherlands and Germany.  Austria recently lifted their housing order.

 Defra is closely monitoring the H7N9 strain which is moving across South East Asia and is spreading in poultry but has yet to be found in wild birds.  Defra is also keeping an eye on the migratory route from East Asia into Russia.  The H5N1 strains in Africa are also worth noting. We have seen the US report H7N9 in commercial broiler breeders in two counties Tennessee to the World Organisation for Animal Health.  There are news reports of reports of AI in Georgia (Low path), Wisconsin (low path), Kentucky (Low path).

AI Prevention Zone 

  • The AI Prevention Zone remains in place in GB and NI until 30/04/17.
  •  Around 70% of the UK free range laying hens have been kept indoors.
  • Since the 29th March, free range poultry meat (in GB) can no longer be marketed as free range.  Retailers are using stickers (similar to the ones on egg boxes) to inform consumers that free range birds have reared indoors to protect their welfare.
  • Birds located in the high risk areas in England may be kept in at least until the zone is lifted on 30/04/17.
  • Defra is currently looking at several options to enable the lifting of all the controls measures and/or the HRAs under the AIPZ on 30/04/17 and a veterinary risk assessment is being undertaken to assess the risk of disease.  Welfare considerations  will also be taken into account as part of the risk assessment.

If you have any queries regarding the content of this post, please do not hesitate to contact your vet or the practice on 01392 872932.