On the heels of yesterday's report (see Zimbabwe Farm Reports 2nd Outbreak of HPAI H5N8) the OIE published a new notification from South Africa identifying two additional poultry outbreaks of H5N8, all of which have been clustered in the Northeastern part of the country.
This brings the number of HPAI H5N8 outbreaks reported by South Africa to 10 (6 in poultry, 4 in wild birds) since the virus first arrived about 6 weeks ago. While actual poultry losses have been limited, this first intrusion by HPAI H5N8 into Southern Africa is having a chilling effect on the industry.
According to multiple media sources (see here, and here), tomorrow - August 2nd - the the SADC (Southern Africa Development Council) and FAO officials will begin a 3-day regional technical meeting to `assess the preparedness, response capacities and actions of member states to the recent outbreaks of HPAI in the sub region.'Not quite 9 months ago (Nov 7th, 2016), in FAO On HPAI H5's 4th Intercontinental Wave - several weeks before H5N8 was to spark Europe's largest avian epizootic on record, and before the virus would be reported in Egypt, West Africa, or in the Southern Hemisphere - we looked at an FAO document called H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in Hungary and in the Republic of India which presciently warned:
Other countries should be on high alert for incursions of this virus and should adopt stronger biosecurity measures on all poultry farms and enhance surveillance
A range of countries along migratory/movement pathways of Anatidae remains at risk. Although it is not possible to predict which countries will experience outbreaks in poultry or wild birds, any of the countries listed below should consider measures to curtail the disease and prevent spread of virus in poultry. The risk extends through to March/April next year for Europe and the Middle East. Testing of dead wild birds and poultry in areas near to migratory concentration points should be increased.
The genes of all H5 viruses detected should be sequenced and results shared with the global community. This information is crucial in helping to understand how virus is spreading. It applies to viruses detected in India and Hungary as well as viruses elsewhere in the region such as those causing death of quail in the United Arab Emirates in early October.
Places at Risk:
Countries in the Middle East;
Countries in the EU;
Countries in the former Soviet Union;
Countries in South Asia.
In the nine months since that report was issued we've seen literally thousands of H5N8 outbreaks, affecting scores of countries across three continents, killing millions of birds - making HPAI H5's 4th Intercontinental wave its most impressive to date.
While past performance is no guarantee of future results, for now - with recent outbreaks reported in Italy, Zimbabwe, and South Africa - HPAI H5's latest international tour appears to be very much alive and doing well.