Saturday, March 04, 2017

Egyptian Veterinary Authority Forms Emergency Unit To Deal With Avian Flu


In January of 2015, during  the opening months of what would turn out to be the biggest human outbreak of H5N1 to date (160+ cases), Egypt's Ministry of Health abruptly stopped reporting on cases (see Regarding The Silence Of The Egyptian MOH)
With only occasional breaks, that official silence has remained in place for more than two years.
A little over a month ago (see H5N8 & H5N1: Murmurs From The Middle East) a recent check of Egypt's MOH website showed their Bird Flu FAQ hadn't been updated since mid-2014, and still showed 180 cases since 2006 (WHO shows 356 as of Dec 2016).

Since then the MOH has unveiled a revamped website, one which appears to have expunged all mention of avian flu.  The faulty FAQ is gone, a site search on `انفلونزا الطيور ' (avian flu) returns no results, and there is no mention in their news feed of the two recent H5N1 cases (1 fatal) (see Egypt: FAO Reports Two Human H5N1 Case). 
We do occasionally pick up reports of human infections in the Arabic media, and Egypt's Ministry of Agriculture is slightly more open about their attempts to control the virus in poultry, but we rarely get specifics about the number of outbreaks and subtypes.  

With the arrival of HPAI H5N8 to Egypt late last year, the continued evolution of H5N1 (see Virology Journal: Evolution of H5N1 Clade 2.2.1 In Egypt), and an (admittedly small) seroprevalence study cited in a paper last year that found antibodies for H5 in roughly 2% of the people tested - suggesting thousands of cases may have gone uncounted in Egypt - this pocket of silence on avian flu is a serious concern.
While H7N9 has garnered most of the headlines this winter, it was only two years ago that the World Health Organization released a pointed warning that H5 Is Currently The Most Obvious Avian Flu Threat.

Other than a marked slowdown in the number of cases reported by the Egyptian government (only 10 in 2016), we've nothing to suggest that the threat from H5N1/H5Nx has gone away.

One section of the Egyptian government that does seem willing to discuss avian flu is their Veterinary Services Department, which released a document late this week outlining their plan to create an emergency unit to combat bird flu.

If this sounds like something we've heard before, it is because it is  (see here, Here, and here). Egypt's poultry industry has been in perpetual crisis over avian flu for more than a decade, and every year we see emergency committees formed to combat it.
Whether this year's crisis (or response) is somehow different, remains to be seen.

First the official statement, followed by a media report that indicates recent detections of H5N8 are behind the decision to form this new emergency unit. 

Decision to form the Emergency Unit of bird flu.


Was a decision by Dr. / Chairman of the General Authority for Veterinary Services Department to form a unit of emergency to combat bird flu, the team was formed at the central level entrusted with all the disease control work , which are as follows:

- investigate the disease.
- Rapid response to contain undiscovered spots of the disease ( the execution - disinfection).
- Motivate educators to apply the basic foundations of bio - safety in the farms and home education.
- Communication to raise awareness among educators.
- Partnership with the private sector for the promotion of the poultry industry in Egypt.
- A system for monitoring and evaluation of the work of control at the level of the Republic.

That there should be an extension of the team at the provincial level and activation of the emergency unit to be the team from the beginning of the General Authority for Veterinary Services through the directorates of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary departments even veterinary units as an integrated unit to fight the disease.

The choice of team work in the governorates:

1. at the level of the Directorate.
2. The level centers (departments).
3. The level of veterinary units:

- Doctors are re - distributed to the veterinary units in the county.
- Are assigned to each doctor a specific number of farms and nurseries birds with overall responsibility for follow - up of immunizations and follow - up sales permits and health status and the discovery of early for any epidemic diseases farm may infect to prevent leakage of any cases of infected farm to rural education or to live birds villages markets.
- Encourage educators to apply the minimum security requirements of the bio-farm

Officially, Egypt has only reported 6 small outbreaks of H5N8 to the OIE (see Follow-up report No.2), although recent media (and other) reports suggest its incursion is more widespread.  This from

Egyptian Veterinary Authority Declares Emergency to Cope With Bird Flu

The General Authority for Veterinary Services, a subsidiary of the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, the state of emergency in the provinces, after the discovery of 10 hotbeds of bird flu from the new strain h5n8, including six domestic breeding spots and 3 in the market and one on a farm in East

She said the Commission, in a statement Saturday that the hotbeds of flu new birds, including three in the East and two in Ismailia, and one each in Cairo and Giza, and the lake, and Damietta, and Minya, where the virus is transmitted by migrating wild birds and wind.

The disease is one of the most virulent case of transmission of infections to poultry farms in areas that are exposed to the passage, especially in North Delta migratory bird viruses.

She body, that of rapid precautionary measures to contain the disease and the response to eliminate spots, veterinary quarantine on the affected farm, and safe disposal of infected and dead birds, and disinfect and clean the nests infected poultry farms, and communication with the public and the owners of farms and guide them about the disease, and Investigation about the focus of the farms.

The Commission noted the withdrawal of periodic samples of all farms in the provinces of inquiry active commercial farms of all types of birds «chickens, ducks, turkeys and quail regime» to be tested and the work of the genetic trace of the virus in the national laboratory for the control of poultry production.

While all eyes right now are understandably on H7N9 in China, in a world where the squeaky wheel invariably gets the grease, it may be worth remembering an old paramedic adage:

In a multiple casualty event, the screaming patient getting all of the attention may be in a lot better shape than the quiet one sitting in the corner . . .that no one rushes to help.. 

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