Officially, Iraq has been free of H5N1 avian flu since the spring of 2006, a time when a handful of poultry outbreaks and 3 human infections were reported. How good surveillance, testing, and reporting has been over the past decade is an open question,
Over the years we've seen a number of Iraqi media reports suggestive of bird flu.
- In 2008 we saw Iraq: H9 Bird Flu Detected In Duhok, Reports Of Extensive Bird Culling In Iraq, and KUNA: Bird Flu Detected In Iraqi Birds.
- In 2011,we saw Iraq: Media Report Of Numerous Poultry Deaths, while in the spring of 2015, we saw Voice Of Iraq: H5N1 Reported in Sulaimaniya Poultry
None of these reports were ever confirmed by the OIE, and so today's report from the OIE of six, widely scattered H5N1 outbreaks (Dec 2015 - Feb 2016), is the first confirmation of H5N1 in Iraq in more than a decade.
Last week, we saw the first outbreak of H5N1 in Lebanon: Minister of Agriculture followed by an FAO confirmation, while earlier this morning Sharon Sanders of FluTrackers picked up a recent report of fresh poultry die offs in Iraq.
We'll have to wait to see if this latest die off is linked to H5N1.