While H5N8 popping up in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, and now Italy has garnered most of the avian flu headlines over the past six weeks, H5N6 – the other newly emerged HPAI H5 virus of 2014 (see Sichuan China: 1st Known Human Infection With H5N6 Avian Flu) – hasn’t gone away.
Unlike H5N8, which to date has not been reported to have infected humans - H5N6 has a track record of infecting, and killing, at least one person.
Reports of H5N6 this fall have been sporadic, with China notifying the OIE of a couple of dozen outbreaks in poultry in October (see China: H5 AI Rising), and a half dozen or so reports also coming out of Vietnam (see FAO Warns On H5N6).
Six weeks ago – before the sudden and unexpected arrival of H5N8 in Europe – H5N6 was considered the `one to watch’ (see FAO-EMPRES Report On The Emergence And Threat Of H5N6).
Perhaps more accurately, one of six to watch, as we’ve added five new Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu subtypes in less than 2 years; H7N9, H5N6, H5N8, H5N3, and H10N8.
The sixth viral horseman in this poultry apocalypse being the venerable H5N1 virus, which continues to infect birds, poultry, and occasionally humans in Asia and the Middle East.
All of which brings us to the latest report of an outbreak of H5N6 in the central Vietnam province of Quang Ngai.
Dinh Thi Huong (VNA / Vietnam +) at: 18/12/14 15:01
Artwork. (Source: Dinh Hue / VNA)
In the morning of 18/12, the Steering Committee of disease prevention cattle, poultry Son Tinh district (Quang Ngai) was carried out to destroy the entire 12,000 quails were infected with influenza A / H5N6 family of Pham Hoang Diep (team 8, Loc Lam Village North, Ha Tinh, Son Tinh district). Pham Hoang Diep said his family lay eggs, quail farming, including 10,000 children were seven months old, and 45 days of age and 2,000 children were vaccinated Room vaccine regulations.
However, the last 14/12 days, Diep discovered many quail died of unknown causes. He told officers Veterinary Station Ha Tinh and Son Tinh district. Immediately after receiving the notice, the veterinary station officials have sent samples to the Veterinary Authority the 4 tests. Test results showed that the male quail Diep infected with influenza A / H5N6.
Steering Committee for prevention of animal disease, avian Son Tinh District has conducted the entire destruction of 12,000 quail Diep. Agency mailings y 4 in Da Nang area also has to check and monitor the implementation of measures of disinfection, sterilization and disposal of the body dead poultry in his household to control Scallops source of the epidemic spreading.
To prevent the spread of the disease across the board, steering committee for animal disease prevention poultry Son Tinh district has directed the officials veterinary station urgently spraying, spreading lime to disinfect cages farms throughout the district. outbreak of Pham Hoang Diep family's flu outbreak A / H5N6 occurred Thursday in the province of Quang Ngai. Currently, the Steering Committee of disease prevention poultry Quang Ngai province continues to closely monitor outbreaks, detect and treat if detected a new outbreak; and implement measures to prevent influenza A / H5N6 to humans. /.
Given the limits of surveillance and reporting across much of China and other parts of Asia, it is likely that outbreaks of H5N6 – as well as other avian flu varieties– are underreported.
Although only reported thus far in China and Vietnam, as I wrote last month in Bird Flu Spread: The Flyway Or The Highway?, these avian viruses have a habit of disseminating themselves across a wide geographic area, often aided and abetted by migratory and wild birds, legal or illegal transport of poultry or poultry products, or other man-made devices.
Major Global Migratory Flyways – Credit FAO
In March of 2013, in a case of unusually good timing, we looked at a study that selected East-Central China a one of the top hotspots in the world for the creation of zoonotic influenza viruses – those that can jump from animals to man (see EID Journal: Predicting Hotspots for Influenza Virus Reassortment).
Two weeks later China announced the discovery of the H7N9 virus, followed over the next 18 months by the emergence of H10N8, H5N8, H5N6, and H5N3.
While most of these viruses are likely to remain a threat primarily to poultry and wild birds, scientists take the threat posed by any emerging novel influenza virus seriously. And given this recent rapid expansion of HPAI subtypes, one shouldn’t be terribly surprised to see this trend continue, and have new subtypes emerge in the months or years to come.