Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Because Japan is an overwintering spot for many migratory birds, and also boasts large poultry industry, they do a good deal of environmental testing for signs of avian flu. This time last year we were seeing early evidence of the arrival of HPAI in Japan with the report Japan: H5N8 In Migratory Bird Droppings.
While not as big of a concern as the HPAI H5 viruses, today Japan’s Tokushima Province has announced the discovery of LPAI H5N3 in environmental samples taken from a pond in Naruto City.
There are two broad categories of avian influenza; LPAI (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza) and HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza).
- LPAI viruses are quite common in wild birds, cause little illness, and only rarely death. They are not considered to be a serious threat to public health, although H5 & H7 strains have the potential to mutate into HPAI strains.
- HPAI viruses are more dangerous, can produce high morbidity and mortality in wild birds and poultry, and can sometimes infect humans with serious result. The number of HPAI viruses that scientists have been tracking has increased markedly over the past 3 years, and now includes H5N1, H5N2, H5N6, H5N8,H10N8, and others.
While the change from an LPAI to an HPAI virus doesn’t happen often, over the summer we saw a LPAI H7N7 outbreak in Lancashire, UK turn into an HPAI outbreak (see UK APHA: Epi Report On HPAI H7N7 Outbreak In Lancashire).
In light of this environmental finding, Tokushima’s government has issued the following statement, and a warning to poultry interests to beef up their biosecurity and to report any signs of increased mortality or infection in their flocks.
November 10, 2015
November 9, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, by the avian influenza surveillance has been carried out Ministry of the Environment
From birds feces taken by prefecture, low pathogenic avian influenza virus was detected
Notification of and there was.
1 Sampling location Ponds of Naruto cannabis-cho
2 detected avian influenza virus H5N3 subtype of low pathogenic avian influenza virus
Although 500 km distant, Miyazaki Prefecture – hard hit during last year’s H5N8 incursion – has issued a biosecurity reminder to poultry interests as well.
The next few months will see heightened surveillance and biosecurity across Japan, Asia, Europe and North America as migratory birds head south for the winter.