Tuesday, July 12, 2016

H5 Avian Flu Reported In NE U.S. LBMs (Live Bird Markets) - UPDATED

Credit CDC

UPDATED 11:40 EDT 7/12

A sharp eyed reader (
Thanks' Maura) has very kindly let me know the FAO has changed both notifications from HPAI to LPAI H5 in the past couple of hours, which puts it in line with the other reports we've seen.    


Four days ago, in connection with the first reports of LPAI H5 in Ontario (see CFIA Statement On LPAI H5 Discovered On Ontario Farm), I mentioned reports by Taiwan and Japan's Agriculture Department that last week three Northeast states (NY, NJ, PA) had also reported LPAI H5 connected to live bird markets.

Checks of each state's Department of Ag sites, along with the USDA and APHIS, yielded nothing.  Officially, I wasn't able to find anything over the weekend.

Yesterday the FAO posted a cryptic notification (see below) of an `HPAI H5' detection in Pennsylvania.

Overnight, the FAO posted a second notification - again listing HPAI H5 - this time from New York State.

Also overnight, Gert van der Hoek, Senior Editor at FluTrackers, picked up the following media report - from an industry newsletter called http://chick-cite.com - describing these outbreaks.

LPAI Identified in Live Bird Markets
Jul 8, 2016
According to a July 4th report in the USAPEEC MondayLine the USDA-APHIS detected low pathogenicity H5 avian influenza at live bird markets in Philadelphia, PA. and King’s County, NY.  Trade partners have been notified and Japan has imposed a restriction on eggs and poultry originating from a zone with a 10 km radius around the sites of the detections.

Beyond the radio silence by state, local, and federal agencies on these detections (12 days ago), curiously Japan's MAFF notice and the chick-cite report above both list these detections as being LPAI, while both FAO reports refer to HPAI H5.   

A very big difference, assuming the FAO report is accurate (see update above)

Whether LP or HP, the bottom line is somewhere in the North East one or more farms supplying live bird markets has an H5 problem.

I can only assume that back tracing of these birds, and testing of flocks, to find the source is underway. 

This isn't the first time we've seen H5 turn up in U.S. live bird markets.  In 2013 (see here and here) we saw a similar report out of New York City, but this was before HP H5 had turned up in North America in the fall of 2014.

To date, none of the HPAI H5 viruses detected in North America (H5N2, H5N8) have demonstrated the ability to infect and sicken humans, and so the threat to human health is likely very low. 

While nowhere near as common in the United States as in Asia or parts of the Middle East, there are nonetheless hundreds of live bird markets that provide custom slaughtering and butchering around the country.

In a 2012 Scientific American article which takes us inside an LBM, the author -  Krystal D'Costa - reports that NYC alone is home to roughly 80 such markets.

According to a highly critical Human Society Report from the middle of the last decade (Human Health Implications of U.S. Live Bird Markets in the Spread of Avian Influenza):

Live bird markets are not limited to Asia. The USDA estimates more than 20 million birds of different species pass through 150 known storefront live bird markets just in northeastern U.S. metropolitan areas every year.

In addition, approximately 50 such markets exist in California and a half-dozen in each of the states of Minnesota, Texas, and Florida. Unlike many Asian countries, which have responded to the risks associated with live bird markets by shutting them down, and Hong Kong, which now segregates waterfowl from terrestrial species, U.S. live bird markets are still in operation, and separation of aquatic and land-based birds is not mandated.

LBMs in Asia have been cited as the primary risk factor for human infection with H7N9, and they are continually linked to the spread, and high mutation rate of, avian flu.

Study: Co-Circulating H5, H9, H10 Avian Flu Subtypes In Nanchang, China LBMs

Referral: VDU Blog On Closure Of Guangdong’s Live Markets

And while little remembered today, LBMs in the Northeastern United States were linked to the spread of, and heavy losses from, avian H7N2 in the mid-1990s (see Live-bird markets in the Northeastern United States: a source of avian influenza in commercial poultry by D.A. Senne, J.C. Pedersen, B. Panigrahy).

While there are more safeguards and better surveillance systems in place than there were 20 years ago, the detection of avian H5 at multiple LBM locations across two (or perhaps 3) states is worthy of notice. 

Hopefully we'll get some badly needed details from the appropriate authorities soon.


Maura said...

Hi Mike,

FYI- The FAO reports listing the H5 detected in NY and PA as HPAI were accidental. They were notified of the mistake, and have subsequently changed both of these reports to reflect that they are, indeed, LPAI.




Michael Coston said...


Thanks for the head's up.