Indonesia - which between 2005 and 2012 Indonesia reported roughly 190 human H5N1 infections - has been remarkably silent on avian flu issues for the past several years. The last human case was reported in 2016.
Since Indonesia declared bird flu `endemic' in 2006, they haven't had to make regular OIE reports - and so like from Egypt - we've seen relatively little solid reporting on their bird flu struggles in recent years.While some of this decline could be due to the use of poultry vaccines (see PLoS One: Effectiveness of HPAI H5N1 Vaccination in Poultry - Indonesia), the Indonesian government - like several others I could mention - has a history of holding their bird flu cards close to their vest (see Watching Indonesia (Again)).
Last February, the FAO announced (see FAO – MoA Gather Officials to Discuss Poultry Production Decline) their concerns that LPAI H9N2 had arrived in Indonesia in 2017, and launched a joint investigation with the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture.
While H9N2 doesn't tend to kill poultry, it does severely curtail egg production, and can occasionally jump to humans (see China: Much Ado About Human H9N2). While it currently only has limited pandemic potential (see CDC IRAT SCORE), several candidate vaccines have been developed over the years.Avian H9N2, however, occupies a special spot in our bird flu coverage because - while so far only an LPAI virus in poultry - its internal genes routinely make up the backbone of many of the HPAI viruses (including H5N1, H5N6, and H7N9) that pose the greatest risks to both poultry, and human health.
H9N2's reach extends beyond just avian flu subtypes, as we've also seen evidence of it reassorting with other influenza viruses, including A Canine H3N2 Virus With PA Gene From Avian H9N2 - Korea and PNAS: Reassortment Of H1N1 And H9N2 Avian viruses.In 2014, in PLoS Path: Genetics, Receptor Binding, and Transmissibility Of Avian H9N2 researchers found evidence of Chinese H9N2 viruses binding preferentially to alpha 2,6 receptor cells - the type commonly found in the human upper respiratory tract - rather than to alpha 2,3 receptor cells which are found in the gastrointestinal tract of birds.
Also in 2014 The Lancet carried a report entitled Poultry carrying H9N2 act as incubators for novel human avian influenza viruses where researchers warned that `reassortment between the prevalent poultry H9N2 viruses (providing genetic segments) and the influenza virus from wild birds could make the influenza evolve to adapt to domestic hosts.'
While the immediate concern over the introduction of LPAI H9N2 to a new region (it currently circulates in much of Asia and the Middle East, and recently turned up in West Africa) is its impact on the poultry industry, the long-term and unpredictable impact of it co-mingling with H5N1 and other flu viruses can't be ignored.Today, multiple Indonesian media outlets are announcing the release of a joint statement by the FAO and the Indonesian MOA on the confirmation of H9N2 in the country, and the challenges they may face going forward.
Ministry, FAO warn farmers of bird flu
News Desk The Jakarta Post Jakarta
Fri, July 6, 2018 | 06:28 pm
The Agriculture Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Indonesian farmers of threats from avian influenza, following the detection of the H9N2 low pathogenic avian influenza virus, which causes a drop in egg production of up to 70 percent on affected farms.
FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Indonesia and the ministry said in a statement made available Friday that they had responded to control the virus, which included "training of local veterinary service officers, on-farm technical support and raising poultry farmers’ awareness of best farming practices".
Fajar explained that besides H9N2, the ministry also recently received many reports of deaths on broiler chicken farms, “We are still investigating those cases, whether they were caused by a sole infection, or involve multiple infections, combined with other problems like bad poultry feed management, lack of vaccination, or low biosecurity," he said. (evi)