|Chelyabinsk region - Credit Wikipedia|
November is often the time of year when we begin to see signs of HPAI in wild and migratory birds - usually along the migratory flyways (see map below) - as they fly south for the winter.
Often, these first reports come from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, or Western Russia - areas with a history of HPAI incursions - and which maintain active surveillance.
A study, published in 2016 (see Sci Repts.: Southward Autumn Migration Of Waterfowl Facilitates Transmission Of HPAI H5N1), posited that waterfowl may pick up new HPAI viruses in the spring (likely from poultry or terrestrial birds) on their way north to their summer high latitude breeding spots - where they spread, amplify, and potentially evolve - only to redistribute them on their southbound journey the following fall.
Most years we only see a smattering of reports in wild birds and poultry, while other years - such as over the winter of 2016-2017 in Europe or the winter of 2014-2015 in North America - we can see a major epizootic.South Korea has reported a number of samples positive for LPAI H5 this fall, but things have been very quiet on the HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) front.
Today, however, Russia's Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) reports the detection of HPAI (subtype not provided) in wild birds testing on November 1st. First the (translated) statement from the office of the Chelyabinsk Rosselkhoznadzor, then I'll have a brief postscript.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus genetic material detected
The Rosselkhoznadzor Administration for the Chelyabinsk Region informs that on November 1, 2019, in the samples of biological material from wild birds shot in the Uvelsky district of the Chelyabinsk Region, employees of the Federal Center for Animal Health Protection discovered the genetic material of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus.
It was discovered by chance not by chance. Every year, the Rosselkhoznadzor department participates in state laboratory monitoring of especially dangerous animal diseases. In the framework of this monitoring, blood serum of a bird located in personal subsidiary farms of citizens and poultry farms, as well as wild and synatropic * birds are regularly selected. On average, about 8 thousand samples are taken and tested in laboratories per year. In the study of another such test, the bird flu virus was detected.
There are 7 poultry factories in the region, where more than 27 million birds are kept (data 01.01.2018). All these enterprises (Chelyabinsk, Chebarkul, Magnitogorsk, Nagaybak poultry farms, Uralbroiler, Ravis-Svosnovskaya poultry farm and the Ural meat company) ALWAYS operate in the CLOSED (non-walking poultry keeping) mode and under strict access conditions for employees with security special forms and decontamination.
Therefore, the real danger of bird flu is for the bird, which is contained in personal subsidiary and small farms. The population of the region is about 0.5 million heads. All of them are in free walking conditions. Therefore, there is a high probability of contact of this bird with a free, wild bird, which is the main carrier of the bird flu virus subtype H5.Although the HPAI subtype isn't mentioned in the above report, HPAI H5 viruses are the most likely suspect. Between 2016 and 2018, dozens of large poultry farms across Western Russia were hit by (primarily) HPAI H5N8, and (in December of 2017 and August of 2018) by a newly reassorted HPAI H5N2.
The Rosselkhoznadzor recommends that citizens isolate poultry (SITTING LOCKED!) From POSSIBLE contact with migratory and wild birds. In case of death of a bird, you must immediately contact the veterinary service.
Poultry farms will continue their work in the usual "closed" mode. The supervisor together with the veterinary department will strengthen control over their full monitoring studies on avian influenza.
Rosselkhoznadzor recalls that this disease can cause mortality of infected birds, close to 100%. Of particular concern is the threat of the spread of the avian influenza pathogen among livestock of poultry.
Currently, the Russian Federation is officially safe for bird flu. Therefore, the spread of this disease among poultry will not only lead to economic losses for an individual farmer, but also adversely affect the entire Russian export of poultry and poultry products.
* Sinatropic bird - not domestic, but living next to a person, for example, pigeons.
Last winter, while HPAI was only rarely reported around the globe, but Egypt saw the arrival of a newly reassorted H5N2 virus, and India and Nepal saw outbreaks of H5N1.And just over a week ago, in EID Journal: Genetic Characterization of Avian Influenza A(H5N6) Virus Clade 220.127.116.11, Russia, 2018, we saw the details on the first detection of China's HPAI H5N6 virus in Russia from last winter.
Reminders that while greatly subdued in both Asia and Europe the past couple of years, HPAI H5 viruses continue to circulate, and evolve, in the wild, and could see a resurgence at any time.