HPAI H5N8 activity - outside of the Middle East and parts of Africa - has been on the decline for the past 18 months following its record setting European epizootic over the winter of 2016-2017.
The two exceptions being in Western Russia (see Brief ESA Report On HPAI H5N2 & H5Nx In Russia) and Bulgaria (see UK DEFRA: SitRep On HPAI H5N8 In Bulgaria).By mid-November of this year, Bulgaria had reported 28 outbreaks, centered primarily in and around south-central Plovdiv and - to a lesser extent - Varna in the northeastern part of the country (see map above).
Last month, Bulgaria's NVS also mandated stricter biosecurity rules - and while that incited protests - we've also seen a dramatic drop in HPAI activity over the past month.
That quiescent streak ended earlier this week when a farm in the far Northwestern city of Vidin - some 250 km removed from Bulgaria's other 2018 activity - reported an outbreak.Vidin sits along Bulgaria's border with Romania, and is only about 30km from the Serbian border as well. This report from Bulgaria's Food Safety Agency.
The owner of the facility has drawn up an act of non-observance of the measures for foreclosure and eradication of the outbreak
On 17 December, the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BHA) found a new outbreak of the bird flu (H5N8) disease in a registered holding, a type of private farm, in the village of Kosovo, Bregovo, Reg. Vidin. The samples were confirmed by the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Examination and Extremely Hazardous Infections Testing Laboratory at the National Veterinary Diagnostic Research Veterinary Medical Institute (NIMH).
Affected birds in the site are hens, pheasants and pigeons. For the control and eradication of the disease, NVS started implementing all measures in accordance with current legislation. An NVS Executive Director's Order sets out the measures to eradicate the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza and the spread of infection among birds in the area.
When visiting the site, on December 18, the lack of part of the birds was noted for the implementation of the measures under the order. On this occasion, meetings were held with the Regional Governor of Vidin, employees of SANS and MI. Once the relevant institutions have been seized of the case, the measures to detect contact and infected birds have been launched. An Act for the Establishment of an Administrative Violation (AEAV) for non-observance of foreclosure measures and measures for the eradication of an outbreak such as outbreaks of contagious and contact birds and the spread of infection have been drawn up and served to the owner.
Humane killing and destruction of the other affected birds in the site was undertaken and cleansing and disinfection of the yards and streets in and around the site was carried out. A 3-kilometer safety zone and 10-kilometer surveillance zone around the disease outbreaks were identified. In restricted areas there are no industrial poultry establishments, but only private farms.
The movement of birds and their products into and out of the protection and surveillance zones is prohibited. The competent authorities shall carry out a census of the birds in these areas.
A committee is convened to carry out a crawl of sites for the purpose of conducting clinical examinations, sampling in case of suspicion of disease, and receiving alerts from owners of bird diseases in collaboration with mayors of settlements.
Up-to-date information on outbreaks of bird flu Influenza in the country can be found in the interactive map published on the site of BSA.
Despite Europe's recent lull in bird flu activity, HPAI H5's persistence - and its proclivity for reassorting with other viruses - means we can't know what the future holds for this lineage, or its descendants.