Saturday, May 20, 2017

DRC: Large Bird Die Off Around Lake Albert - AI Suspected


The DRC, which over the past couple of weeks has been dealing with an Ebola outbreak in Bas Uélé, near the border with the C.A.R., is also reporting a large die off of ducks and chickens in villages on the shores of Lake Albert, which lies along their border with Uganda to their east.
As far as I can tell, no test results have confirmed avian influenza (or a subtype), but according to local news reports, AI is suspected.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has never reported HPAI before, although their eastern neighbor Uganda reported a large outbreak of HPAI H5N8 last January around Lake Victoria (see ESA: HPAI H5N8 in Africa).

Other reports of HPAI H5 (H5N1 and H5N8) have been received from several countries to their west this year, including Cameroon and Nigeria (see map below).

While details are scant, and we await laboratory confirmation, we have the following media report from the Andalou News Agency.

Thousands of chickens, ducks die as bird flu hits DRC

Authorities declare quarantine against movement of chicken and ducks
By Godfrey Olukya

ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo

A bird flu outbreak in eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo killed thousands of chicken and ducks.

According to veterinary officer in Ituri province Benon Mando, the governor of the province has officially declared the epidemic of the viral infection in the localities of Joo and Kafe on the shores of Lake Albert.

Bird flu, also known as avian flu, is a viral infection which spreads from bird to bird. Some time back, a particularly deadly strain of bird flu H5N1 continued to spread among poultry populations in North Africa and in certain parts of Asia.

“Over 5,000 chickens and ducks have died due to the avian flu. It is a very dangerous disease which kills many chickens before it is eliminated,” Mando told Anadolu Agency.

He said that quarantine against movement of chicken and ducks has been declared by the authorities.

(Continue . . . )

In the summer of 2015 , in FAO: Concerns Rising Over Spread Of Avian Flu In Africa and again in October of that year, in WHO Scales Up Influenza Surveillance In Africa, we looked at growing concerns over the recent spread of highly pathogenic avian flu in Africa and the very limited surveillance and reporting from the region.
Again last January, in The Challenge Of Avian Flu Surveillance In Sub-Saharan Africa, we looked at the difficulties in detecting, confirming, and tracking avian flu in central Africa.
HPAI poses a very real threat to wildlife, poultry, and potentially to human health in Africa. Beyond that, as it encroaches into new territories, it may also have opportunities to meet up - and reassort with - other local avian viruses.  
A scenario not unlike what we saw this past winter when H5N5 emerged in Europe within weeks of H5N8's arrival.
Hopefully we'll get clarification on this die off from the OIE in the next few days.

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