UPDATE: 05/04 0500hrs EDT: The FAO has posted a notice of this outbreak, albeit with very few details and no ID on the subtype.
It has been seven years since Turkey last reported HPAI H5N1 to the OIE (see Immediate notification), but Turkish officials well remember the impact the virus had in the years between 2006 and 2008, when roughly 200 outbreaks were recorded, along with a dozen human infections and four deaths.
When H5N1 began its big expansion out of Southeast Asia in 2005-06, Turkey was one of dozens of countries suddenly thrust into the battle against bird flu, and the quarantining towns has often been part of their playbook (see 2007 Turkey: Three Villages Quarantined? & Turkey : 4 More Villages Quarantined, & 2008 Turkey Quarantines Three Villages).
A pattern which should make today’s headlines and story a bit less urgent sounding that it might at first appear. It should also be noted that according to these reports, poultry deaths have been ongoing in this town for several months.
In any event, overnight the Turkish language press has been carrying numerous reports of bird flu (`kuş gribi’ for those who would like to do a Google search) – presumably H5N1 - having been detected in the Banda District of Balikesir, Turkey.
I’ve not found any official statement, but this being a weekend, that isn’t terribly surprising. Hopefully we’ll get an official notification from the OIE or the FAO in the next day or two.
A few links below, followed by an English Language report from the Today’s Zaman.
May 03, 2015, Sunday/ 14:25:59/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM / ISTANBUL
According to the Doğan news agency, the Bandırma Directorate of Food, Agriculture and Livestock launched an investigation in Bandırma's Edincik neighborhood over the death of around 40,000 chickens in four months. Samples from the chickens were sent to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock's laboratory in İstanbul's Pendik district, where tests found that the mass deaths of the chickens was due to bird flu.
In a statement regarding the issue on Saturday, district governor Ali Mantı said security measures have been increased at the farms where the deaths took place and that chickens there were euthanized.
“Entering and leaving the region has been prohibited except for official vehicles. The samples were sent to the laboratory in Pendik. According to the tests, bird flu was detected. All protection measures have been taken in the farms where bird flu was detected,” Mantı said, adding cleaning was also done after chickens were culled and destroyed.
Given the multiple reports of H5N1 being detected in migratory birds and occasionally poultry in Eastern Europe (see OIE: H5N1 Kills 21 Pelicans In Bulgaria & Russia Reports H5N1 In Migratory Birds) – all sharing the same Black Sea / Mediterranean Migratory Flyway – it wouldn’t be terribly surprising for find Turkey added to the list.
Major Global Migratory Flyways – Credit FAO
Since last fall we’ve seen HPAI H5 virus on the move around the world, with H5N8 making it to North America and Europe, and H5N1 showing up in countries that haven't reported outbreaks since 2006-2007.
Although the emergence of several new (H5N8, H5N2) HPAI viruses - more easily carried by wild and migratory birds - are undoubtedly part of the reason behind this increased activity, for reasons that are less clear, H5N1 is on the move again as well.
For more on the spread of avian viruses across long distances by migratory birds, you may wish to revisit: