Monday, June 19, 2017

MOA: Large Poultry Die Off In Heilongjiang - H7N9 Confirmed (HPAI Suspected)


In January of this year a new HPAI (highly pathogenic) version of H7N9 emerged in Southeast China's Guangdong province, and in short order began moving north (see map above); first to Hunan Province, then to Fujian, Guangxi, Hebei and points north. 

Last week, it was confirmed to have reached Inner Mongolia (see OIE Confirmation), a week after a large die off of poultry was reported in Hohhot, the provincial capital.   
Prior to January, China's H7N9 virus was always LPAI (low pathogenic) in birds, but able to cause severe illness and death in humans.  This new HPAI strain - which circulates along with the older LPAI strain - can infect, sicken, and kill both birds and humans.
Last week's verification in Inner Mongolia placed this HPAI strain more than 1,200 miles north of where it first emerged five months ago, presumably being carried by migratory birds.

Today we've an announcement of a similar outbreak in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, not far (less than 80 miles) from the Russian border, and roughly 1,800 miles north and east of where it emerged in January. 
HPAI has not been lab confirmed, but the substantial mortality rate reported by the MOH suggests a highly pathogenic strain.  Lab confirmation usually takes another week or so.
As we often see from China, the MOA announcement is briefand comes after the outbreak has been `effectively controlled'.
Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province Baoqing poultry H7N9 influenza epidemic has been effectively controlled
Date: 2017-06-16 16:09    

June 10, Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province Baoqing veterinary authorities found a farm breeding hens appear in the monitoring of suspected bird flu symptoms, the incidence of 20,150, 19,500 died.
June 13, animal disease prevention and control center in Heilongjiang Province diagnosed with suspected bird flu. June 16, by the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed the outbreaks as H7N9 flu.
After the outbreak, according to the relevant local prevention plans and technical specifications, adhere to the prevention and control law, science and prevention and control, really good job epidemic disposal, have been culling and safe disposal 16 610 poultry. Currently, the outbreaks has been effectively controlled.

While HPAI H7N9's ultimate impact remains unclear, five weeks ago in Eurosurveillance: Biological Characterisation Of (HPAI) A(H7N9) Viruses In Humans, we learned that  HPAI H7N9 virus retains the ability to infect both birds and humans, and in fact, appears to be potentially slightly more infectious in both than the LPAI version.  

Last week, China's MOA announced plans To Test New H7N9 Poultry Vaccine In Two Provinces (Guangdong & Guangxi) later this summer. Today, the MOA announced that project should begin by the end of the month.

H7N9 subtype avian influenza vaccine will be put into production use
Date: 2017-06-19 17:57 Author: Source: Ministry of Agriculture Information Office

For the effective prevention and control of H7N9 subtype of avian influenza, the Ministry of Agriculture to actively promote scientific and technological research, the organization of the national avian flu reference laboratory to carry out H7N9 avian influenza vaccine research. The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory uses reverse genetic technology to construct safe and efficient H7N9 inactivated vaccine production. After rigorous evaluation, new vaccine strains have no virulence to both poultry and mammals.

In order to avoid repeated vaccination of single vaccine, reduce the number of poultry stress and epidemic prevention expenses, to achieve an immunization at the same time prevention and control of H5 and H7 two subtype avian influenza epidemic strains of the purpose of the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory in the original H5 recombinant avian influenza vaccine (H5 + H7) bivalent inactivated vaccine, the protection rate of H5 and H7 subtype avian influenza was 100%, which provided a strong technique for the effective prevention and control of avian influenza in China. Guarantee.

June 14, the Ministry of Agriculture organized H5-H7 divalent vaccine evaluation and technical standards release work, and organize enterprises to carry out vaccine production. In order to ensure the quality of the vaccine, it has made a series of arrangements on the strict issuance of management system, strengthening the electronic traceability management of vaccine products, supervision and inspection work. The first batch of vaccines is expected to be delivered to Guangdong, Guangxi and other places at the end of June for immunization pilot work.

Although the above statement extols the virtues of this new H5 + H7 vaccine combo, after a dozen years of extensive reliance on poultry vaccines, China continues to struggle with existing and newly emerging avian flu strains (see PLoS Bio: Imperfect Poultry Vaccines, Unintended Results). 
While not an ideal solution, China is arguably too dependent upon poultry vaccines to change policies now.
Meanwhile, Russia - which continues to deal with their own HPAI H5N8 woes - is casting a worried eye south towards the H7N9 virus which is creeping steadily towards their southern border with China (see China's Nervous Neighbors).

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