China's Xinjiang region culls 55,000 chickens after bird flu outbreak

Reuters 27 Dec 16;

China's Xinjiang region has culled more than 55,000 chickens and other poultry following an outbreak of a highly virulent bird flu that has infected 16,000 birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The H5N6 strain of the virus was confirmed in Yining, a city of 500,000 people, and has killed 10,716 birds, the ministry said.

It is the fourth flu outbreak among poultry since October and brings the total cull since then to more than 170,000 birds. Flocks are particularly vulnerable to avian flu during the winter months and sporadic outbreaks are relatively common.The culling comes amid fears about the spread of avian flu across Asia, with South Korea battling its worst-ever outbreak and Japan and India also killing flocks.

South Korea is currently trying to contain the H5N6 strain, which has caused 10 human deaths in China since April 2014.

At least seven people in China have been infected this winter with the H7N9 bird flu strain and two have died.

To bolster their defense against infection, Chinese poultry farmers have scrambled to give their chickens more vitamins and vaccines in recent weeks.

Beijing has banned poultry imports from more than 60 countries and said any countries with highly pathogenic cases will automatically go onto that list. Regional authorities in three provinces have curbed live poultry trading in some cities to prevent the spread of the disease.

The last major bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 killed 36 people and caused more than $6 billion in losses for the agriculture sector.

In a statement on its website on Sunday, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the issue warrants greater attention this year, because the disease is developing earlier than in previous years, and cases are increasing more quickly in some districts.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


Hong Kong's first bird flu patient this winter dies
Reuters 27 Dec 16;

An elderly Hong Kong man died on Christmas Day from bird flu, the government said on Tuesday, the first human infection in the city this winter.

The Centre for Health Protection of the Health Department said the 75-year-old man, who was diagnosed with the H7N9 strain, died on Sunday.

Last week, Hong Kong confirmed the first human bird flu infection for this season after the man, who had recently traveled to China, was diagnosed with H7N9.

South Korea and Japan ordered further culls early last week to contain outbreaks of a different strain of bird flu, having already killed tens of millions of birds in the past month.

At least seven people in China have been infected with H7N9 this winter and two have died.

Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has been battling sporadic cases of avian influenza in humans since the first outbreak killed six people in the same year.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Indian state orders poultry cull after bird flu outbreak
Jatindra Dash, Reuters Yahoo News 27 Dec 16;

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - An eastern Indian state ordered the cull of more than 2,500 chickens and other poultry after four dead crows and three dead poultry tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, officials said on Tuesday.

The bird flu virus was confirmed at Keranga village, about 35 km (22 miles) from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha state, veterinary officials said, days after dozens of crows and chickens were found dead.

More than 30,000 birds were culled in a similar outbreak in the region in 2012.

"We have issued an advisory to follow immediate measures to complete culling operations, surveillance and sanitization in the infected area," Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the state's Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters.

"Over 2,500 poultry birds are being culled within one kilometer of the epicenter for control and containment of bird flu. It's the first time in the current season that this type of bird flu was detected in the state and in the same area."

The H5N1 strain is considered as highly pathogenic. It can also transmit to animals such as pigs, horse, large cats, dogs and occasionally humans.

China reported two fatalities from H7N9 bird flu last week, its first fatalities among this winter's cases, stoking fears the virus could spread at a time when other Asian nations are battling to control outbreaks of the disease.

South Korea and Japan have been scrambling to contain outbreaks of different strains of bird flu, with the poultry industry there bracing for heavy financial losses.

The H5N1 strain is, however, less dangerous than the highly contagious H5N8 strain found in several European countries in the past few weeks.

(Editing by Malini Menon and Nick Macfie)

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