Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Japan & South Korea Report Their 1st Fall Outbreaks Of HPAI In Poultry For 2021


The map above highlights one of the most important avian migratory pathways in the world - the East Asian- Australasian Flyway (EAAF) - which is described (below) by the EEAFP (East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership), which monitors the arrival and health of migratory birds along the route each year.
The East Asian - Australasian Flyway (EAAF) stretches from the Russian Far East and Alaska, southwards through East Asia and South-east Asia, to Australia and New Zealand and encompasses 22 countries. The EAAF is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250  different populations, including 32 globally threatened species and 19 Near Threatened species.
While it has been the source of excitement and wonder for bird lovers every fall for uncounted eons, in recent years this annual southbound trek of migratory birds has also been associated with the arrival and spread of HPAI and LPAI viruses. 

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been very active in Europe since September - but with the exception of some positive environmental samples (e.g. bird feces- until today poultry farms in both South Korea and Japan have managed to keep the disease out of their flocks this fall. 

Overnight Japan reported their first outbreak at an egg-laying chicken farm in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture with roughly 143,000 chickens.  While the subtype is likely H5 (or possibly H7), information surrounding the virus has not been released. 

The (translated) announcement from Japan's MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, and Fisheries) follows:
Confirmation of pseudo-patients with highly pathogenic avian influenza in Akita Prefecture
November 10, 3rd year of Reiwa
Ministry of Agriculture , Forestry and Fisheries
Today (Wednesday, November 10), a pseudo-patient with highly pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed at an egg-laying chicken farm in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture.
The farm has refrained from moving breeders, etc. from the time the farmer reports.
Under the current situation in Japan, we believe that there is no possibility that bird flu will infect humans by eating chicken or chicken eggs.
Please refrain from interviewing on-site as it may cause the spread of this disease and may invade the privacy of farmers.
1. Farm overview
Location: Yokote City, Akita Prefecture
Breeding status: Egg-collecting chickens (about 143,000 chickens)
2. Background
(1) Yesterday (Tuesday, November 9), Akita Prefecture received a report from a farm in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture, that the number of dead birds was increasing, and requested the farm to refrain from moving. At the same time, an on-site inspection of the farm was conducted.
(2) On the same day, a simple test for bird flu was conducted on the chicken and it was found to be positive.
(3) Today (Wednesday, November 10), as a result of conducting a genetic test on the chicken, it was confirmed that it was a pseudo-patient with highly pathogenic avian influenza.
3. Future response
Based on the Prime Minister's instructions and the "Guidelines for the Prevention of Specific Livestock Infectious Diseases Concerning Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza," we will take all possible measures below.
1. (1) Slaughter and incineration of the farm's poultry,
(2) Setting of restricted movement areas for areas within a radius of 3 km from the farm,
(3) Restricted export areas for areas within a radius of 3 km to 10 km
Promptly and accurately implement necessary epidemic prevention measures such as setting .
2. To prevent the spread of infection, strengthen disinfection around the outbreak farm and set disinfection points on major roads.
3. Work closely with Akita Prefecture by dispatching political affairs to Akita Prefecture.
4. If necessary, hold the Food, Agriculture and Rural Policy Council Livestock Hygiene Subcommittee Poultry Disease Subcommittee to obtain technical advice necessary for epidemic prevention measures.
5. Dispatched assistant section chief staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the site so that the infection status, infection route, etc. can be accurately grasped and an accurate epidemic prevention policy can be examined.
6. In order to support epidemic prevention measures such as slaughter and incineration in Akita Prefecture, "emergency support teams" are dispatched from animal quarantine stations, livestock improvement centers, etc. in various places as necessary.
7. Dispatched an "epidemiological investigation team".
8. Remind all prefectures about the early detection and notification of this disease and thorough management of feeding hygiene.
9. Strive to provide accurate information to producers, consumers, distributors, etc., while fully coordinating with related ministries and agencies.
4. Others
(1) At present in Japan, we believe that there is no possibility that bird flu will infect humans by eating chicken or chicken eggs. (external link)
(2) On-site coverage may cause the spread of this disease and infringe on the privacy of farmers. We ask for your cooperation in refraining from doing so.
In particular, please refrain from interviewing using a helicopter or drone as it will interfere with epidemic prevention work .
(3) We will continue to strive to provide prompt and accurate information, so we ask for the cooperation of producers and other related parties and consumers so that they will not be confused by unfounded rumors.
Meanwhile, KBS news in South Korea is reporting that nation's 1st confirmed outbreak of HPAI  (identified as H5N1) this fall in a poultry farm - and the investigation of a second farm - in the following translated news report.

Avian influenza alert rises... Quail farm confirmed, duck farm suspected

Enter 2021.11.10 (08:49) Revised 2021.11.10 (11:44)

As the weather gets colder, highly pathogenic avian influenza is showing signs of re-emergence.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced today (10th) that H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was detected at a quail farm in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province. This is the first confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a poultry farm this fall.

It is known that there are no poultry farms within a 500 m radius of the farm.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been setting the range of preventive disposal in proportion to the risk in case of highly pathogenic avian influenza since last month, and the standard for burial disposal until tomorrow (11th) is set for all livestock breeds within 500 meters of the farm where the outbreak occurs.

A duck suspected of highly pathogenic avian influenza was also confirmed at a meat duck farm in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, and quarantine authorities are conducting a thorough examination.

          (Continue . . . )

Both Japan and South Korea have endured devastating avian epizootics in the past, and avian influenza is endemic in Taiwan further to the south, so this return of avian influenza is not unexpected.  This year, however, there are a couple of new factors involved. 

The first is the recognition last spring that H5Nx clade viruses - which were previously viewed as only endangering poultry and wild birds - may be gaining more mammalian adaptations, which could increase their threat to humans (see CDC Adds Zoonotic Avian A/H5N8 To IRAT List).

And the second, is the sudden proliferation of the Asian HPAI H5N6 virus - which has infected more than 2 dozen people in China this year, killing half - and may be among the viral cargo being carried by migratory birds this fall or on their return trip next spring (see CDC Monitoring HPAI H5N6 In China).

Although we've been spared from seeing large avian epizootics in North America since the spring of 2015, we are not immune. Just as in Europe, there is a need to bolster biosecurity here in the United States (see H5Nx: Why North America Must Remain Alert).

While a virus that primarily infects and endangers poultry may seem a small concern right now as we near the two-year mark of our coronavirus pandemic, it is worth remembering that until late 2019 SARS-CoV-2 was a virus that was pretty much exclusive to bats. 

The one constant with viruses is change.  And we never know where, or when, the next public health threat will emerge.