In their most recent OIE filing (Feb 13th), Iran reported 30 outbreaks of HPAI H5N8 since it first appeared last November, resulting in the loss of just over a million birds. According to the accompanying map, outbreaks were spread across 11 provinces in the northern half of the country.
A week earlier, however - (see H5N8 & H5N1: Murmurs From The Middle East) - we were seeing state media (IRNA) reports that the real losses were closer to 6 million birds.
As with China, getting reliable outbreak information from the Middle East can be difficult, although Iran has been a bit more forthcoming than some of its neighbors. The official silence from Egypt - which has been the biggest hotbed of avian flu in the Mid East for a decade - is deafening (note: since H5N1 was declared endemic in 2008, they are no longer required to file weekly OIE reports).
Overnight the Iranian and Persian Language press have been filled with reports of H5N8 avian flu spreading - depending on the source - to either 15 or 21 provinces.
While stressing that no human infections have been reported, warnings are going out to the public to avoid contact with wild birds or migratory birds (living or dead), to stop using local poultry products “until further notice.”, and to only consume chickens and eggs that have certification from the Iran Veterinary Organization or the Ministry of Agriculture.
This English language report from Iran's PRESSTV.
Birds infected with flu seen in 15 Iranian provinces: Health Ministry official
Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:54AM
Iran’s Ministry of Health has detected flu in birds in 15 Iranian provinces and has prohibited the use of local poultry products nationwide.
Mahmood Soroush, the head of the ministry’s Center for Communicable Disease Control, told Iran’s IRNA news agency on Saturday that the avian flu, most common form of which is the H5N8 strain, had infected birds in more than 15 Iranian provinces.
Soroush said it had already been detected in many countries, especially in the region spanning between Siberia and the Horn of Africa.
A view of the building of Iran’s Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education in the capital, Tehran
He said the ministry had issued three statements warning about contamination even close to urban areas, particularly near lagoons, and demanding people to avoid touching any kind of birds.
“We seriously urge people to avoid touching dead birds or even living migratory ones,” the official said.
The Iranian Health Ministry is taking different measures concerning education, vaccination, and the distribution of medication in affected areas, Soroush added.I was unable to find any official statement on the Iranian MOH website (http://behdasht.gov.ir/), but I'll continue to check.
He stressed that people should use only chickens and eggs that have certification from the Iran Veterinary Organization or the Ministry of Agriculture and avoid using local poultry products “until further notice.”
‘No human cases of bird flu’
Those who have fever following physical contact with birds should promptly refer to medical centers, the official pointed out. He said, however, that no cases of human infection had been detected in Iran.
“So far, we haven’t had even a single case of human infection with bird flu or anything like it, but preventative measures such as vaccination, distribution of medication, and sampling from at-risk individuals continue,” he added.
The H5N8 strain of bird flu is deadly for poultry, but has not been detected in humans. The virus has spread across Europe and the Middle East since late last year and led to the culling of hundreds of thousands of poultry.
Other Persian language media reports (see Influenza is still going / 21 provinces were involved) put the number of affected provinces considerably higher, and indicate the price of eggs has risen sharply in recent weeks.
The OIE's WAHIS mapping tool shows where outbreaks have been reported around the world - and despite media reports suggesting widespread activity - notifications from the Middle East (and points east, for that matter) since January 1st are few and far between.
While a lack of reports can be comforting - as with China, parts of South East Asia, and much of Africa - no avian flu news isn't necessarily good avian flu news.