With the caveat that as I post this it is just after 10pm in Riyadh, and I haven't found any official announcements, Arabic social media (twitter Search انفلونزا الطيور aka `Bird Flu') has come alive in the last hour with reports of H5N8 now having now been found in the Al-Qassim region, roughly 200 miles north and East of Riyadh.
The story is being carried by several Arabic media outlets, although the wording is nearly identical in each article, suggesting a bit of an echo chamber effect at work.This follows an announcement earlier today by MEWA of the detection of the virus in the Eastern Province. We've also seen government denials in the press of rumored outbreaks in Mecca. So, until we get government confirmation, take the following with a pinch of salt.
Typical of the media reports is this from Ajel.
Thursday - 10 Rabi 1439-28 December - 2017 21:18
The General Directorate of Agriculture in al-Qassim announced on Thursday the registration of a number of birds infected with influenza (H5N8) in one of the farms.
In a letter distributed to a number of concerned departments, the General Administration of Agriculture in Qassim explained that it is a reference to the field survey carried out for the poultry breeders. In view of the cases of avian influenza in Riyadh region, samples were taken and sent to the veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Riyadh, H5N8) in one of the farms in the center of sight, west of Breda.
Due to the seriousness of the disease and fear of spreading among the farms, the cultivation of Qassim and a number of agencies to execute all birds urgently at the injured site and prevent the entry or exit of cars until the disease is controlled.
While the Secretariat announced the closure of the Qassim bird market in the city of Buraidah, on Friday, as a precaution in coordination with the General Directorate of Agriculture in the region to avoid the spread of bird flu.