Credit Japan’s MAFF
While we wait and watch the skies for signs of the return of H5N8/H5N2 here in North America, South Korea is already well into their fall bird flu season. After going most of the summer without reporting any outbreaks, over the past month MAFRA has announced repeated detections of the H5N8 virus in poultry.
Three weeks ago MAFRA announced the imposition of an 8-month long AI control protocol to begin October 1st and run through May 31st of 2016.
The graphic at the top of this blog comes from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which keeps very close tabs on Korea’s battle against H5N8, as the migratory birds that carry it to Korea often move on to Japan a little later in the fall.
Although less impacted than Korea, Taiwan or the United States, Japan dealt with several large outbreaks in poultry, and the detection of H5N8 in wild birds last year, and is on alert once again this winter.
Today, the Korean Herald reports on South Korea’s 8th outbreak of H5N8 of this fall, which resulted in the culling of 27,000 ducks at a poultry farm Yeongam. So far, all of Korea’s H5N8 recent outbreaks have been reported in the Southwest of the peninsula.
Updated : 2015-10-22 17:53
South Korea confirmed a new case of bird flu on Thursday, bringing the total to eight over the last one-month period.
The Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said ducks at a poultry farm in Yeongam, 384 kilometers south of Seoul, tested positive for the H5N8 strain of avian influenza.
All 27,000 ducks were culled on Monday as a precautionary measure, after some birds showed signs of being sick before they were to be shipped out, it said.
Remarkably, two years ago H5N8 wasn’t on anyone’s radar. It first appeared as a threat to poultry in January of 2014, affecting dozens of farms across South Korea. Previously, it had only rarely been detected in China, and was considered more of a scientific curiosity than a threat.
Since then we’ve seen the global expansion of H5N8 (and its reassorted progeny) across much of China, Taiwan, Korea, into Russia, and showing up quite unexpectedly in Western Europe last fall. Even more surprisingly, it made its way into North America last fall, sparking the worst avian flu outbreak in American History.
What this virus will do next is anyone’s guess, but all signs point to it being a major AI player again this year.