As happens from time to time, a poultry flock has been found to harbor a (presumably) LPAI (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza) virus. In this case, it appears to be one of the H7 variety.
This is not the highly pathogenic, and very dangerous, H5N1 bird flu.
25 February 2009
Hodonin, South Moravia, Feb 24 (CTK) - Czech vets on Tuesday discovered a virus of bird flu when checking the breeding of waterfowl in the Rybarstvi Hodonin fishing company, local vet authority head Jaroslav Salava told CTK.
It was discovered in nine out of the 60 randomly checked geese near the Pisecensky pond. However, it is not the risky type H5N1, but the much less dangerous H7 stem, Salava said.
Nevertheless, vets will still order the putting down of all the roughly 3000 geese and 350 ducks, Salava said.
An area with the 1-km radius was created around the focus of the epidemic, Salava said, adding that special veterinary measures for the disinfection of the farms and movement of people and poultryž would be in effect there.
Salava said the staff and locals were not exposed to any serious danger in the area.
"The found H7 stem is among the low pathogenic stems of bird flu with a minimum risk. The transfer of the infection to humans can be discounted," Renata Vaverkova from the regional sanitation authority told CTK.
The low pathogenic stem of bird flu was recently discovered also in Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.
There are about 90 ponds with the acreage of 520 hectares in the Hodonin region.
Although the officials quoted in the above news article go out of their way to discount any human threat from the virus, human infections have occurred from H7, although they are usually mild.
As an example, in 2003 there was an outbreak of an H7 strain among poultry in the Netherlands where 89 people were confirmed infected by the virus. Most exhibited mild symptoms, although one person died.
This article from May of 2008 appeared in CIDRAP News, discusses H7's pandemic potential.
Robert Roos News Editor
May 28, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Scientists have found evidence that North American avian influenza viruses of the H7 subtype are becoming more like human flu viruses in their ability to attach to host cells, which suggests they may be improving their capacity to infect humans.
The investigators determined that several recent North American H7 viruses have an increased ability to bind to a type of receptor molecule that is abundant on human tracheal cells and is less common in birds. Their results were published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.
The finding—which comes as the deadly Eurasian H5N1 virus continues to be seen as the likeliest candidate to spark a pandemic—"underscores the necessity for continued surveillance and study of these [North American H7] viruses as they continue to resemble viruses with pandemic potential," says the report. The study was done by scientists from the US Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University in Atlanta, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
H7 viruses have caused a number of disease outbreaks in poultry in Europe and North America in recent years, though far fewer than the widespread outbreaks caused by the H5N1 virus. H7 viruses also have occasionally infected humans, typically causing only mild conjunctivitis. But a veterinarian died of an H7N7 infection during the devastating poultry outbreaks in the Netherlands in 2003.