Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saudi Arabia: 3rd MEWA Statement On H5N8 Outbreak In Riyadh


The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture (MEWA) continues to post daily updates on the first outbreak of HPAI H5 in the Kingdom in nearly a decade (see Saudi Arabia: MEWA Announces HPAI H5N8 Detected In Riyadh) with the culprit this time HPAI H5N8.
Aside from updates on the clean up at the affected market, from the translated statement we also learn of a second detection among waterfowl in the `governorate of Mazahmia' (المزاحمية) which appears to be Al-Muzahmiyya, a rapidly growing urban area about 30 miles south and west of the Al Aziziyah Bird Market.
The report (dated yesterday) also mentions monitoring local emergency rooms for possible cases, but since the H5N8 virus has never been shown to infect humans before - and it regular flu season in KSA - these numbers probably tell us more about the diligence of their surveillance than anything else.
That said, the H5N8 virus is closely related to HPAI viruses that have infected humans, and lab studies have suggested it wouldn't take much to increase its threat (see J. Virulence Editorial: HPAI H5N8 - Should We Be Worried?), and so ramped up surveillance for potential human cases is always advisable.
This latest update also states `. . . tests indicated that a number of pets were injured in the al-Aziziyah bird Market . . . ', but does not elaborate on the species, or their presentation. Although likely referring to pet birds, we have seen infection of dogs by H5N8 in the past (see MAFRA: H5N8 Antibodies Detected In South Korean Dogs (Again)), so we'll be keeping an eye out for more information.

First the update, and then I'll return with a postscript:

Daily briefing to follow up on cases of avian influenza H5N8


The Ministry of Environment, Water and agriculture, in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and the security authorities, continues its work to control and control the influenza bird-type H5N8 after the discovery of injuries at the Al Aziziyah Bird Market in Riyadh, the work and developments can be summarized over the past 24 hours Thus: All sectors have completed the safe disposal of all birds and cleanse the Aziziyah market for birds in Riyadh, and the market is still closed.

The results of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Riyadh revealed the safety of samples received by the laboratory from Kharj Governorate.

The discovery of cases of flu bird-type H5N8 for aquatic birds in one of the waters in the governorate of Mazahmia, and therefore will the emergency plan is implemented, and the ministry has banned the sale, circulation and movement of birds in the vicinity of a 10-kilometre radius.

The total number of communications received by the emergency room since yesterday was 21, ranging from reports of death and suspicion to 37, in addition to 73 enquiries about the disease.

The results of the tests indicated that a number of pets were injured in the al-Aziziyah bird Market in Riyadh with the H5N8 flu, and will begin joint field teams (Riyadh Area Secretariat, Riyadh Directorate of Agriculture) to secure their disposal.

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Riyadh is currently conducting a survey of 74 samples from different parts of the kingdom.

The number of injuries recorded in the Al-Aziziyah bird Market in Riyadh has reached 14, according to the results of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Riyadh.

The sectors call on all bird breeders to contact the emergency telephone to report any deaths or suspicions of injury on the phone: 8002470000
While we've been a bit surprised by H5N8's failure to return (so far, anyway) to Northern and Western Europe (or to East Asia) this fall - usurped by a new H5N6 virus -  rumors of this virus's demise are probably premature.
H5N8 continues to be reported in Russia, appears well entrenched in Africa and the Middle East, and has shown a remarkable ability to both spread and to reinvent itself  over the 4 years since it emerged on the world stage. 
The progress of avian flu over the past two decades has been far from linear.  We've seen sudden bursts of outbreaks (both in humans and in birds) and robust geographic spread, followed by periods of relative quiescence and pullbacks from some parts of the world.

Places that once were rife with human and/or avian infections - like Indonesia, Egypt, and Bangladesh - have gone silent.  At least for now.

The arrival of H5N8 in Saudi Arabia this week - after an absence of reported HPAI for nearly 10 years - is a reminder of just how quickly that silence can be shattered.

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