We’ve a surprising announcement overnight from German authorities that they’ve detected the recently emerged H5N8 virus at a turkey farm in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Although H5N8 is not currently known to infect humans, its emergence among European poultry could prove very costly to the poultry industry.
Detected avian influenza virus in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: H5N8
A known previously only from Asia avian-type is now also occurred in Germany. The affected turkeys operating in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has been banned, such as the Ministry of Agriculture in Schwerin said. Around 31 000 animals are killed, more are at risk
Last January, a highly pathogenic version of H5N8 avian influenza appeared for the first time in South Korea which proceeded to infect scores of farms, and resulted in the culling of more than 13 million birds (see South Korea: 30 Days Into Their H5N8 Outbreak).
Low path H5N8 had previously been seen in other parts of the world (see CIDRAP 2008 Low-pathogenic avian flu hits Idaho game farm), but only one detection of H5N8 in an HPAI form had previously been recorded back in 2009-10 (see Characterization of three H5N5 and one H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in China).
We’ll need to wait for further genetic analysis to find out just how closely this H5N8 matches the Asian strain. There are also are a lot of open questions regarding how the virus could suddenly show up in Northern Europe - 8,000 miles from where it first appeared just 10 months ago.
For now, authorities have imposed a 3km security zone around the affected poultry farm, are culling thousands of birds, and are expected to test neighboring poultry farms. We’ve further details on the response from this RP Online report:
6. November 2014| 06.26 clock
H5N8 known only from Asia 2 0
Therefore particularly dangerous - - The turkey is a highly pathogenic influenza virus subtype H5N8 has been detected by said spokesman Constantin Marquardt. "This so far only from Asia, especially South Korea, known subtype was thus first detected in poultry stock in Europe." Even in the wild bird population of subtype had not been previously detected.
Authorities any details to operate
As announced in the morning, around 31,000 affected animals are killed. "This is the first Glutnest of this virus and must be withdrawn quickly," district veterinary officer Holger Vogel said Thursday in Anklam news agency dpa.
Poultry shall within 50 kilometers no longer be kept out - and not in high-risk areas in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Baltic Sea coast and on inland lakes.
This morning the big question has to be whether this outbreak is the result of an unlucky chance meeting of an infected migratory bird with a flock of free range turkeys, or a sign of a much bigger incursion by the virus into Europe?
Between 2006 and 2007, after years of watching H5N1 stay pretty much a Southeast Asian problem, that virus suddenly expanded its range, spreading into Europe and the Middle East at great cost to the poultry industry (see Germany Reports H5N1 In Wild Birds & Bavarian Farm Positive for High Path H5N1).
The H5N8 virus is just one of several newly arrived avian flu viruses of concern. Last spring, the H5N6 virus also appeared in China – and has spread into Vietnam – infecting poultry and in at least one case, infecting and killing a human (see FAO Warns on H5N6).
Like H5N6, the Korean H5N8 virus is a reassortant of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, which has sparked pandemic concerns globally for well over a decade.
Beyond the threat to agricultural interests and food security and the local economy, these viruses are all evolving and playing `mix and match’ with their genes, and continue to produce new clades and subtypes. Luckily, most of these will be evolutionary failures, and fail to thrive.
A few will become a serious threat to poultry, while even fewer will pose a public health threat.
But its a numbers game.
The more rolls nature gets with the genetic dice – the greater the chances of rolling a natural.