Avian Influenza Update in East and Southeast Asia (January 2018)

Sophie von Dobschuetz, FAO

FAO/EMPRES-AH is constantly monitoring the avian influenza situation worldwide and compiles information from multiple national and international sources as well as peer-reviewed scientific articles. Close collaboration with country and regional offices, the implementation of avian influenza field surveillance projects and networks of expertise like the OIE/FAO OFFLU provide access to timely information on outbreaks, surveillance findings and genetic similarities of circulating viruses or their virological features. This information is stored in the EMPRES Global Animal Disease Information System (EMPRES-i), a database that can be accessed online at empres-i.fao.org.

During the period 26 September 2017 to 05 January 2018, four different avian influenza virus subtypes have been reported in South-East Asia, of which three were highly pathogenic (H5N1, H5N2, and H5N6) and one low pathogenic (H7N9). H5N1 HPAI caused outbreaks in poultry in Cambodia (3) and Indonesia (6). In Taiwan, Province of China, 18 poultry outbreaks were confirmed to be caused by H5N2 HPAI. H5N6 HPAI was detected in Republic of Korea (11 poultry outbreaks), while in China one severe outbreak was reported in quails. H7N9 LPAI is still only reported in China, with three positive findings from chickens and live bird market environments in three different provinces (Yunnan, Fujian and Liaoning).

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In China, three human cases of zoonotic avian influenza were reported: one fatal human case infected with H7N9 in Yunnan Province and two human cases infected with H5N6 in Guangxi and Fujian Provinces, respectively.

Highly pathogenic H5N1, H5N6 and H5N2 viruses have demonstrated the ability to spread also via migratory water birds. During the period 26 September 2017 to 05 January 2018, two wild bird cases (Oriental Magpie Robin – Copsychus saularis and Black-faced Spoonbill – Platalea minor) were reported in Hong Kong SAR, and one (Black-faced Spoonbill – Platalea minor) in Taiwan, Province of China, all confirmed as H5N6 HPAI.

We consider avian influenza activity to be higher in the period October to March, thus more reports of outbreaks in poultry or detections in wild birds and humans are expected over the coming months.

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