Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The emergence last January of a new Highly Pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza virus in South Korea resulted in the destruction of more than 13 million birds in dozens of farms throughout the Korean peninsula.
Japan saw a brief incursion last April (see Japan’s Avian Flu Outbreak Identified As H5N8), but forewarned by the Korean outbreak, as able to quickly contain that outbreak.
Since then sporadic outbreaks continue to pop up in South Korea, and H5N8 was recently reported in Northwestern China, and last week in Northern Germany (see UK: Defra Preliminary Assessment On Germany’s H5N8 Outbreak In Poultry).
Given its detection in wild ducks in Korea, and its widespread and rapid geographic dispersal, migratory birds are eyed as playing a role in the spread of the virus (see Bird Flu Spread: The Flyway Or The Highway?).
With migratory birds heading south for their winter nesting grounds, Japan once again finds itself on guard against another introduction of the virus. Today, Japan’s Ministry of Environment has announced the detection of the H5N8 virus in migratory bird dropping collected in Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture.
November 14, 2014
Ministry of the Environment on October 13, Shimane Prefecture Yasugi highly pathogenic from droppings of amber butterfly found in the avian influenza virus (H5N8 subtype) has announced has been detected, and.
Virus in the droppings of study of migratory birds that Kyotosangyodai is doing on its own, was found from 2 specimens were collected in three days. Ministry of the Environment is to specify the surrounding 10 km close to wild bird monitoring emphasis area, began to dispatch preparation of emergency investigation team.
Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong are all part of the great East Asian - Australasian Flyway. All three are the winter and fall home for a variety of migrating birds - many of which spend their summers in Siberia, China, and Mongolia – areas where avian influenza viruses have been detected in wild bird populations before (see Siberian Birds Test Positive For H5N1 Antibodies and Siberian Birds Show H5N1 Antibodies).
In 2010, Japan was faced with multiple introductions of H5N1 (see Japan: Hooded Crane Positive For H5N1) from migratory birds overwintering in the national reserve in Izumi City, Kagoshima Prefecture. In 2011, even more infected birds arrived (see Japan’s Bird Flu Dilemma).
While there is not a lot that officials can do about migratory birds flying in with highly pathogenic viruses, they can warn local poultry operations to beef up biosecurity and surveillance, and can gear up to respond to any outbreaks.
With the recent emergence of H5N6, H5N8, H5N3, H10N8 - along with the already established H5N1, H5N2 and H7N9 viruses - more than ever, much of Asia and Europe must now stay alert for the possibility of seeing the arrival of one of these viruses.
For more on the potential of migratory birds to spread avian viruses, you may wish to revisit: