Halfway through South Korea's mandatory 48 hour standstill of poultry, poultry products, vehicles and personnel, we continue to get new reports of outbreaks of the highly virulent H5N6 virus.
The OIE's most recent update (see below) more than doubles the number of confirmed H5N6 outbreaks - bringing that total to 14 - while fresh media reports indicate the virus has been detected in Pocheon, in the heart of Korea's chicken and egg producing region.
First a link to the OIE Report.
Meanwhile, media reports this morning indicate that a quarter of a million chickens have been culled in Pocheon (Gyeonggi Province) in an attempt to contain the virus, which threatens the largest poultry region in the country.
Pocheon is home to 225 chicken farms, which raise more than 10 million birds, while Gyneonggi Province produces more than 20% of the nation's chicken.
This from KBS World Radio News.
Detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 in the region's largest chicken Korea
Published: 2016-11-26 16:20:23 updated: 2016-11-26 16:23:50
At 5 pm Monday 22/11, to declare farm on epidemic prevention agencies about 65 chickens died of unknown causes, suspected infection of bird flu virus. Test results show that the number of chickens on positive reaction to the virus highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6. Epidemic prevention agencies conducted immediately slaughter all 240,000 chickens at a farm.
Earlier in the day 20/11, 240 chickens at a farm in the commune Baekseok cities Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, also died unexplained series. Then this is the conclusion of chickens have been infected with avian influenza virus H5N6 highly pathogenic.
In addition, room service agencies is currently receiving a report of two suspected avian influenza virus virulence high in the city of Icheon and Anseong city. So far, Gyeonggi Province had two cases be concluded that the virus infection of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 and two suspected cases.
(Continue . . .)
Given the biosecurity lessons learned from Korea's devastating H5N8 outbreaks of 2014 and early 2015 - and the relatively few HPAI outbreaks reported last winter and spring - the rapidity with which H5N6 is spreading through Korea's poultry industry is a bit surprising.
While the virus is presumed spread primarily by migratory birds, exactly how the virus is making direct contact with housed poultry is less well defined.
After the 2015 H5N8 epizootic here in the United States, APHIS Released An Updated HPAI Epidemiology Report that was unable to find one - or even a group - of factors that satisfactorily explained the spread of the virus from birds to poultry.
Some of the factors under consideration included movement of poultry, poultry products, equipment and personnel between farms, but no conclusions were reached.
Another possibility, often discussed in this blog, is that the virus may be carried into farms by small peridomestic animals such as mice, voles, cats, or dogs that could pick up the virus from the outside environment and bring it inside.
- In 2015, in Taking HPAI To The Bank (Vole) we looked at the susceptibility of the European bank vole to both H5 and H7 avian viruses, and concerns they may be getting past farm bio-security measures.
- Also in 2015, we looked at the expanded host range that is susceptible to infection with H5N6 in H5N6 Rising: Infecting Birds, Humans, & Even Cats.
- While just last May, in Report: Skunks and Rabbits Can Catch And Shed Avian Flu, we looked at a report that suggested that infected small mammals were a plausible intermediate host, and may be part of the chain of transmission of avian flu.
Although it seems likely that there are multiple ways the virus is getting past farm biosecurity, identifying these holes and plugging them is a top priority.
While HPAI hasn't returned to North America they fall, that possibility still exists, and so poultry owners - whether large commercial operations or hobby farmers - should be doing what they can to protect their flocks.
For more on this you may wish to revisit HPAI: Battening Down The Biosecurity Hatches.