In recent weeks we’ve been following reports of massive duck die offs in Indonesia, supposedly linked to the arrival of clade 2.3.2 of the H5N1 virus (see VOA Report On The Indonesian Duck Die Off), but with cooler weather bird flu activity is on the rise in other places around the world as well.
The chart above shows the `seasonality’ of bird flu outbreaks in poultry, with generally a lull seen during the summer and early fall, and a peak in the winter to late spring.
Not unexpectedly, two countries often plagued by H5N1 outbreaks in recent years are reporting reoccurrences this week; Bangladesh and Nepal.
First stop Nepal, where an outbreak of bird flu is being reported in the capital, Kathmandu. We saw reports of an outbreak last October (see Nepal: H5N1 Outbreak In Poultry) in two eastern provinces; Sumari and Ilam.
2,500 chickens die; 19,000 eggs destroyed
KATHMANDU, Dec 25: The rapid response teams of District Animal Health Office Kathmandu on Tuesday destroyed over 19,000 eggs after bird flu was confirmed in a Kathmandu-based poultry farm.
The central veterinary laboratory under the Directorate of Animal Health (DoAH) had confirmed bird-flu virus in the poultry farm owned by Subirman Singh Basnet of Ramkot-6, Kathmandu two days ago.
Meanwhile, in Dhaka, Bangladesh - 600 to the east - authorities are combating what they are calling the worst outbreak of avian flu in 5 years. This report from AFP.
Wednesday December 26, 2012
DHAKA: Bangladesh's livestock authorities are slaughtering around 150,000 chickens at a giant poultry farm near Dhaka after the worst outbreak of avian flu in five years, officials said Wednesday.
The deadly H5N1 strain of flu was detected at Bay Agro farm at Gazipur, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Dhaka, on Monday after dozens of chickens died, prompting the company to send samples to a laboratory for tests.
And over the past several weeks we’ve seen numerous reports of H5N1 in poultry in Egypt. A partial listing of recent outbreaks from the FAO EMPRES-i RSS feed includes:
While many countries have managed to control, or even eradicate, the H5N1 virus - outbreaks in poultry remain fairly common in places like Egypt, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and even Nepal.
For now, these outbreaks pose only a limited public health hazard, as this avian virus remains poorly adapted to human physiology. Human infections remain rare, but when they are reported, they often end up being fatal.
The concern is that one of these days the virus will `figure us out’, and learn how to transmit efficiently from human to human. It may never happen, or it could happen tomorrow.
Which is why we follow outbreaks in wild and domesticated birds, along with rare human infections, with considerable interest.