Thursday, December 28, 2017

Updating the Saudi H5N8 Outbreak


A few days ago, after the initial outbreak of H5N8 in Riyadh, I was praising the Saudi Ministry of Water, Environment & Agriculture (MEWA) for their daily, relatively detailed, updates posted on their website.
While in Arabic, they were easily translated using Google or Bing Software.
The last such update was posted 5 days ago (Dec 23rd), and since then MEWA has chosen to release information via their Twitter accountTheir most recent update follows:

Unlike the website posts, these are released in graphic format, which makes  them  untranslatable using machine translation software. My attempts over the past couple of days to convert these releases (using OCR software) into translatable text has produced only gibberish. 
So, as much as I prefer using original official source material, I'm forced to rely upon Arabic & English language media reports.
I discussed this dilemma last evening with Sharon Sanders at FluTrackers, and overnight she posted the following (translated) SPA (Saudi Press Agency) report.

Saudi Arabia - SPA reports H5N8 avian flu spread in Riyadh environs - December 27, 2017
Yesterday, 09:45 PM
Wednesday, 1439/4/9 H corresponding to 2017/12/27 SPA

General / "Environment" issued a daily summary of follow-up cases of bird flu H5N8


The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced in its daily summary that the number of casualties during the past 24 hours 8 casualties in Riyadh, Al-Kharj, Huraila, Al-Quwaiyya and Dharma, one of which is a poultry project.

The ministry said that the field teams ended in Riyadh city in cooperation with the Riyadh Municipality, the disposal of 85627 birds in a poultry project, and announced the presence of an injury during the last period.

Field teams in Muzahmiyeh continue to conduct screening and investigation of injury areas, and to date 1232 birds have been disposed of in 12 locations.
The number of samples that reached the laboratory of veterinary diagnosis in Riyadh until today 1220 samples since the outbreak, and collected samples on the basis of communications citizens, and the procedures of examination and investigation in the vicinity of affected areas.

In the last 24 hours, the number of communications decreased to 9, compared to 20 to 30 during the first six days since the disease was declared.
The ministry concluded today an emergency workshop for the biosecurity observers and how to follow up the plan of control and control of avian flu to all the veterinary teams in the Kingdom and was broadcast on a network of all branches.

// // ended
17:41 ITM

Although this translation speaks of `casualties', this refers to clusters of bird deaths, not human illness. Since then, the following brief English language report has appeared in the Gulf Daily News.

Infectious H5N8 bird flu spreads to two more governorates in Riyadh

GDN Online Desk

Riyadh – The infectious bird flu disease (H5N8) has spread to two new governorates in the province of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

New cases of the avian influenza were discovered at Al-Quaiya and Dharma.

The H5N8 disease was first discovered at Al-Aziziya Market before hitting the governorates of Al-Kharj and Huraimila.

The Ministry of the Environment, Water and Agriculture reported 8 new cases at a poultry project in Riyadh, which led to the culling of 85627 birds.

The authorities have also culled 1232 birds at 12 locations in the region of Mazahmiya.

Saudi Arabia had confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said last Friday.

Since the Saudis filed an OIE report on December 22nd, I'm assuming we'll see (more or less) weekly updates, which should give us a better idea of the extent of incursion by H5N8 into Saudi Arabia.

Until then we'll have to content ourselves with second-hand reports like the ones above.

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