This winter, health authorities in countries in the WHO European Region, located along wild bird migration routes, and residents of these countries should be especially vigilant about possible outbreaks of bird flu in domestic and wild birds. Some strains of the avian flu virus can infect humans, and therefore the population of countries facing outbreaks must take the necessary precautions to avoid contact with sick and dead birds or the contaminated environment.
Beginning of autumn bird migration
Every autumn in the European region there is a migration of wild birds in a southwesterly direction, for wintering in warm countries. Since June this year in the Russian Federation, there have been many outbreaks of bird flu in poultry along the main migration routes of birds. Given the presence of avian influenza viruses in the Region, their spread to other countries seems very likely.
Outbreaks of avian influenza in the Russian Federation
Between mid-June and October 1, 2018, the Russian Federation informed the World Organization for Animal Health about 80 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza subtype H5 and one outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N2) among poultry. The Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service of the Russian Federation confirmed that the last outbreak was caused by the highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N8) virus. This virus is close to strains, in 2016–2017. caused the largest outbreak in the history of the outbreak among domestic and wild birds in the Region, which led to the need to destroy millions of birds and to great economic losses. Migratory birds were identified as the likely cause of the virus in the Region. It follows from the above that the rapid detection of bird infection by avian influenza viruses and the protection of human health requires vigilance of the population and close cooperation between public health authorities, veterinary services and environmental protection organizations.
What measures are required from the public?
To protect people from infection with avian influenza viruses, it is recommended to follow these guidelines:
- Obtain information on the migration routes of wild birds in your country from the competent authorities.
- Avoid direct or close contact with birds (both with domestic and wild birds) or with potentially contaminated environments. Report any cases of sick or dead birds to the authorities.
- Do not touch the birds, both living and dead, with your bare hands. If you still need to contact the corpses of birds, wear gloves or use a plastic bag inside out. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap or a suitable disinfectant.
- Follow the rules of food safety and food hygiene, which are formulated by WHO in the form of the “Five Key Principles for Improving Food Safety”. In particular, when cooking dishes from domestic or wild poultry, subject the food to a sufficient temperature treatment.
Avian influenza viruses and a threat to human health
Human infection with avian influenza viruses is rare and is most often associated with direct or close contact with live or dead infected birds or their environment. At the moment there is no information about cases of infection of humans with avian influenza A (H5N8) or A (H5N2) viruses. However, avian influenza viruses are able to mutate, which threatens the emergence of viruses that can be transmitted from animals to humans, and therefore they must be carefully monitored. Residents of countries facing avian flu outbreaks are advised to implement the above protection measures.
Avian flu is spreading in Europe
Due to the outbreak of bird flu in the north of Germany, 8.8 thousand geese will be destroyed. According to Reuters, citing the Ministry of the Environment of the State of Schleswig-Holstein, 1.8 you.
from geese on a farm in Ditmarshen, contracted the H5 virus with a low risk of spread. 7 thousand more
geese with suspected avian influenza have been identified in another enterprise belonging to this same farmer, but it is not yet known whether the strain has a low risk of spread (H5) or is it highly pathogenic H5N8.
Over the past few weeks, a number of European countries, as well as Israel and India, have reported on the appearance of H5N8 avian influenza introduced by migratory birds.
Most reports relate to the detection of disease in wild birds, but in Germany, Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands, infections have been detected among domestic ducks and turkeys.
The authorities decided to destroy the livestock contacted with the virus, and also took additional precautions. On Monday, November 21, the first case of H5N8 avian influenza on one of the farms was reported by Denmark.
Measures taken to prevent contact between wild and domestic birds were reported by Swiss authorities. Sweden has increased the level of the threat of bird flu to the second (out of three), thanks to which, from now on, all poultry should be kept indoors.
In France, the risk of infection of birds is increased in some areas to high, for security purposes, farms located along the migration route of migratory birds are prescribed to feed domestic birds in enclosed spaces, reports Euronews. The Netherlands imposed a 72-hour ban on the transportation within the country of poultry products, including the birds themselves, eggs, litter and used straw.
Some countries have imposed a ban on the import of poultry products from countries where contamination has been detected. Thus, on Monday, Ukraine announced restrictions on the import of poultry meat and poultry products from several regions of Germany due to the threat of the bird flu virus, last week a similar ban was imposed by Ukraine on poultry products from Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria.
The distribution of the highly pathogenic H5N8 flu strain this fall is unexpectedly fast, President of AGRIFOOD Strategies, vice president of the International Poultry Development Program Albert Davleyev told Agroinvestor.
However, he noted, the bird flu in this case does not spread from enterprise to enterprise, but exclusively by migratory birds, for some of which the virus is not fatal.
“This development is almost inevitable in the conditions of free-range industrial birds, which are becoming popular in Europe, as well as in wintering areas for migratory waterfowl,” said Davleev.
During the summer, a huge “cauldron” is formed in northern Europe, northern Siberia and northern Canada during summer nesting, in which birds exchange various diseases, including bird flu, and then in the fall its new strains spread along migration routes to wintering regions .
At the same time, the introduction of bird flu into Russia through the import of breeding material, feed ingredients or equipment is practically negligible, Davleyev said.
According to him, the Rosselkhoznadzor strictly controls the delivery of poultry from regions with existing or possible sources of infection, a strict system of issuing import permits from different countries of the world has been built, which allows us to control and prevent veterinary risks.
In addition, avoiding the introduction of flu to Russia by migratory birds in this autumn-winter season was avoided due to very early cold weather, but one should not exclude the risk of epizooty in the spring-summer period, when migratory birds will again cross the territory of Russia as a result of seasonal migrations to the north warned Davleev. “However, the Rosselkhoznadzor very effectively monitors the state of bird flu in wild fauna with the help of special field research programs and timely reports on the detection of hazards in migratory birds,” said Davleev.
Today, all measures have been taken to prevent skidding, confirms Galina Bobyleva, general director of the Rosptitsesoyuz. “We have all closed enterprises and all precautions taken,” she told Agroinvestor.
According to her, in Russian poultry farms and in personal subsidiary farms a strict order is adopted according to the condition of poultry keeping, and the regions where the disease was detected are immediately closed for import.
“In addition, we do not carry anything from Europe, we have everything of our own,” she added.
Bird flu - infectious viral disease of birds, some strains of the pathogen which are pathogenic for humans, causing a serious disease with high mortality.
Avian influenza is accompanied by high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, catarrhal syndrome, bleeding from the nose and gums, chest pains, pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, pulmonary edema.
Confirm the diagnosis of avian influenza allows ELISA, PCR, virological studies, chest radiography. Treatment of bird flu includes hospitalization, the appointment of antiviral and symptomatic agents.
Avian influenza is an acute viral disease that occurs in a person with infectious-toxic, gastrointestinal and respiratory syndromes. About the infection of humans with the avian flu virus was first reported in 1997 during an outbreak in Hong Kong.
In subsequent years, from Asia, avian flu spread to Europe and Africa, causing millions of infections of wild and domestic birds and hundreds of human cases of the disease. In Russia today, outbreaks of infection are registered only among birds.
The relevance of the fight against avian influenza is due to the high economic losses associated with the forced destruction of poultry population, as well as the pandemic potential of the disease in the human population.
Avian influenza has an extremely aggressive course: mortality from pulmonary complications reaches 60-70%.
Causes of bird flu
The RNA virus that causes avian influenza belongs to influenza A viruses, the Ortomyxoviridae family. Depending on the type of proteins (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase) contained in its outer membrane, different antigenic types of avian influenza virus are isolated.
For humans, the most dangerous are H5N1 and H7N7 strains, since they are able to quickly mutate and cause severe forms of the disease with fulminant course and high mortality. These strains are particularly dangerous in combination with seasonal and swine flu viruses.
Also known are cases of avian influenza in humans caused by the low pathogenic subtype of the H7N9 virus, mainly affecting people with comorbidities.
Avian influenza virus can persist for a long time at low temperatures, but when boiled it dies in 2-3 minutes.
The source of the spread of infection are the wild waterfowl (geese, ducks, swans) and domestic birds (chickens, turkeys), in which the avian flu virus is in the intestine and is excreted into the external environment with feces. Due to seasonal migration, wild birds are able to carry the virus over long distances.
Infection of a person is carried out by airborne droplets and by the fecal-oral route when in contact with an infected or dead bird flu. No cases of human-to-human transmission have been recorded.
Workers of poultry farms, zootechnicians, veterinarians are subject to an increased occupational risk of infection with avian influenza.
Birds infected with the avian flu virus are slowed down, rush poorly, drink water greedily, are disheveled, make croaking sounds. They have reddening of the eyes and mucous membranes, exudate excretion from the nasal passages, diarrhea, gait disturbance, convulsions.
Before death, cyanosis of the earrings and the crest is observed. At the opening of the dead birds pay attention to multiple hemorrhages in the mucosa of the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys and liver.
Due to the mass death of poultry stock, bird flu is often called “chicken plague” and “Ebola chicken fever”.
When a person is infected with a bird flu virus, the incubation period lasts 2-3 days (rarely up to 2 weeks). Intoxicological, gastrointestinal and respiratory syndromes develop at the stage of clinical manifestations of avian flu.
The manifestation of the infection is acute - from high temperature to 38–40 ° C, stunning chills, muscle and headaches. Perhaps the development of rhinitis, conjunctivitis, mild catarrhal syndrome (pharyngitis), bleeding from the nose and gums.
In about half of the cases, abdominal pain, repeated vomiting and watery diarrhea occur. One-third of patients develop acute renal failure.
After 2-3 days from the beginning of the manifestations of avian influenza joins respiratory syndrome. Interstitial viral pneumonia develops, accompanied by cough with the release of clear sputum, hemoptysis, shortness of breath, tachypnea, cyanosis.
The rapid progression of inflammatory changes in the lungs leads to the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome.
The death of patients with avian influenza usually occurs in the second week of the disease from pulmonary edema, acute respiratory failure, multiple organ failure, or a secondary bacterial and fungal infection.
The most severe bird flu occurs in early childhood. Features of the disease in children are characterized by the development of meningoencephalitis, accompanied by severe headache with vomiting, impaired consciousness.
Diagnosis and treatment of avian flu
In the initial period of the disease, the symptoms of avian influenza are similar to the manifestations of ordinary seasonal flu, which makes it difficult to diagnose. In addition, avian influenza requires differentiation from parainfluenza, adenoviral, rhinovirus, and respiratory syncytial infections.
The reference signs of bird flu are the presence of an outbreak of infection in the region, prior contact with an infected bird, high fever, diarrhea syndrome, progressive pneumonia. When radiography of the lungs in the early period of the disease revealed multiple inflammatory infiltrates prone to fusion and rapid spread to the lung tissue.
Confirmation of avian influenza is made by immunological (ELISA), molecular genetic (PCR), and virological methods.
Patients with suspected or diagnosed avian influenza are hospitalized in infectious hospitals. Etiotropic treatment of infection is carried out with antiviral drugs that reduce viral replication and improve the prospects for survival.
Among them, oseltamivir, zanamivir, rimantadine, umifenovir showed the greatest efficiency. At high temperatures, antipyretic drugs are used (paracetamol, ibuprofen).Acetylsalicylic acid and metamizole sodium are strictly contraindicated for the treatment of avian influenza.
The prescription of antibacterial drugs is justified only in the case of the addition of bacterial complications.
Immunity after avian flu has been short-lived and type-specific. This means that the possibility of re-infection in another season is not excluded.
With outbreaks of infection caused by the most pathogenic strains of avian influenza, mortality is 50-70%.
According to the most pessimistic forecasts, the A (H5N1) virus can cause a pandemic of avian influenza around the globe and lead to the death of 150 million people.
The population of birds infected with the avian flu virus must be destroyed. As a means of controlling the infection epizootic, poultry vaccination is used. Prevention of bird flu in humans is aimed at strengthening the immune system, taking antiviral drugs for preventive schemes.
If possible, close contact with poultry and wild poultry should be avoided, and precautions should be taken when preparing poultry meat and chicken eggs.
Vaccination against influenza with seasonal vaccines reduces the risk of complications, as well as prevents possible mutations of the avian influenza virus and its ability to be transmitted from person to person.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza again detected in Europe, distributed in South Asia
Less than two months ago, FAO issued a warning that the H5N8 avian influenza virus was found in wild waterfowl in the Republic of Tyva in the south of the Russian Federation and is likely to spread in a southwestern direction along with the autumn migration of waterfowl.
According to recent official reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the virus, which is highly pathogenic for poultry, has in fact already advanced to the west, reaching Poland and Hungary, and has reached Kerala province in India in the southern vector.
“The events of last week show that the virus from wild to poultry has already happened,” said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth. The H5N8 virus was found in dead wild birds and domestic ducks in four Indian states, as well as in Hungary, a mute swan found dead in the northeastern part of the country and on a turkey farm in the city of Totkomlosh.
“During the preparation of this report, information about suspicions of identifying several new cases of the death of wild birds from the H5N8 virus came from Germany, Austria and Croatia (media reports). FAO will continue to monitor the spread of the disease and regularly report on further developments. ”
According to Andriy Rozstalnyy, an expert in animal health and animal husbandry from the regional office of FAO, a dead mute swan was found in late October in Hungary near the salt lake of Feher, in Chongrad district, a well-known place where migratory birds congregate.
The Hungarian authorities have already identified the virus that hit the swan, as very similar to what was detected in June in wild waterfowl on Lake Ubsu-Nur in the Republic of Tyva in Russia.
Both areas of disease registration, in Hungary and India, generally coincide with the routes of autumn migration of waterfowl, in particular, representatives of the Anatidae family.
Earlier this week (November 7), the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) H5N8 was also confirmed in wild birds in Poland. And although the affiliation of the detected virus to the same strain is still required to be confirmed by research, the probability of this is very high.
The recent detection of H5N8 virus in wild and domestic birds is further evidence of the role that wild birds play in transporting highly pathogenic H5 flu viruses over long distances: from one stop of migratory birds to another on their seasonal migration routes.
Apparently, this is the fourth registered wave of intercontinental movement of such viruses since 2005. According to the recently published FAO newsletter and other scientific publications, the role of wild birds in long-range transmission of the virus is now indisputable.
Countries in the region should be highly prepared to penetrate the virus, maintain enhanced biosecurity measures and strengthen surveillance on poultry farms, Rostalny said.
All countries along the migration routes and seasonal concentrations of birds of the Anatidae family are at risk, including countries in the Middle East, the European Union, West Africa, the former Soviet Union, and South Asia.
“We cannot predict which countries will be exposed to bird flu outbreaks in poultry, or when wild birds are infected,” Rostal said, “but all of them should include measures aimed at early detection of the disease and preventing the spread of the virus among poultry.” He noted that the risk for the countries of Europe and the Middle East will remain until March-April 2017 inclusive.
- FAO is calling for more research on wild birds, especially those found dead, as well as those harvested during the hunt (especially the duck family), as well as heightened vigilance by the owners of domestic poultry farms located near wild waterfowl.
- In all cases of detection of H5 viruses, it is necessary to carry out genetic studies and promptly inform the world community of the results of such studies. This will contribute to a better understanding of how the virus spreads.
- It is necessary to take into account that hunting, contact with preyed waterfowl in areas where the H5N8 virus is likely to spread (as is currently the case in Europe and Asia as a whole) runs the risk of spreading the disease to susceptible poultry species.
- Poultry farmers engaged in commercial cultivation of poultry and its owners in private farms should avoid the risk of introducing pathogens into farms with contaminated clothing, shoes, vehicles, or equipment used in hunting waterfowl.
- Any remains of hunted birds must be considered potentially infected and must be disposed of in a safe way.
- Residues of meat and other parts of waterfowl should not be fed to domestic animals (cats, dogs, or poultry).
Actions that are not recommended for wild birds
FAO warns that attempts to control the virus among wild birds by shooting them, or destroying the habitat, are useless and illegal. There is also no excuse for preventing the shooting of at-risk species, in zoos, or collections of live birds.
According to the FAO recommendations, measures to control infection in captive-grown wild birds should be based on strict control of their movements, localization, and only in case of emergency can depopulation of infected flocks be carried out.
Both wild and domestic birds are not able to be permanent carriers of avian influenza virus H5.
The use of disinfectants should be concentrated in places where there is no large accumulation of organic matter (for example, feed, or litter), the surfaces of which were also pre-cleaned of organic matter.
Spraying of birds or their habitat with disinfectants - for example, sodium hypochlorite or bleach - is considered potentially counterproductive, harmful to the environment and ineffective in controlling disease.
Impact on human health
Although the virus is highly pathogenic for poultry, the risk of human infection from the H5N8 / Tuva 2016 virus is likely to be low. To date, no such cases have been reported. Despite this, FAO recommends:
- avoid contact with the corpses of wild and domestic birds and refrain from eating meat of dubious origin
- Immediately inform the veterinary service of any cases of death of birds, especially mass
- the remains of dead birds must be destroyed properly, after tissue sampling by specialists for laboratory testing
- Persons who come into contact with dead birds or their waste products by nature (veterinarians, employees of poultry farms, zoos, etc.) must follow standard hygienic measures and follow biosafety protocols, including protection against the possibility of airborne contamination, or by aerosol (protective masks)
- avoid swimming in potentially contaminated water
- Thoroughly heat-cook any poultry products intended for human consumption or pets.
In France, HIV-5-En-1 infected turkeys on one of the farms, and in Germany the virus was found in wild ducks.
Avian flu began mowing French turkeys. What happened was what the EU authorities most feared. Following the wild birds from the virus "H-5-En-1" began to die domestic, reports NTV.
The first source of infection - a farm in the south-east of France. Of the 11,000 turkeys, most died from the disease, and the rest were destroyed. The French authorities have prepared a huge amount of vaccine, but may not have time to vaccinate nearly a million birds.
In Germany, the bird flu virus was found in wild ducks on the territory of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. To avoid contamination from migratory birds, the Danish authorities have introduced a curfew for poultry - chickens can only be kept indoors.
Who was hit?
Cases of a highly pathogenic strain have been identified in Germany, France, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Croatia and the Netherlands. In some areas, the danger level was increased to high. For safety reasons, the infected bird was destroyed, and poultry farms were ordered to produce fattening in enclosed spaces. Supervisory authorities have planned a number of inspections that will allow to identify infected birds before they reach the store shelves. Also, some countries have introduced a temporary ban on meat imports from countries where outbreaks have been detected.
In France and Hungary, new cases of bird flu infection are recorded daily. In this regard, the French poultry farms can lose more than three million heads. In Germany, 776 thousand turkeys, chickens and other poultry species have already been rejected. In the near future, experts predict an increase in the number of slaughtered birds. Polish farmers had to eliminate more than 300 thousand birds. The virus has spread almost throughout the country, however, the number of registered cases is almost five times less than in France (49 vs. 227).
Avian flu virus was studied by scientists in the second half of the XX century. From this point on, almost all the states of the world take measures to prevent its spread. The most common source of infection is wild birds, which cannot be checked and neutralized by the veterinary service. In its original form, the bird flu virus is not dangerous to humans. However, after certain mutations, it can be transmitted from birds to humans, which is confirmed by numerous cases in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries of the world. In this case, death as a result of infection with bird flu occurs in 6 out of 10 cases.
The spread of the virus will cause higher prices for poultry meat
Bird flu causes a serious blow to the economies of countries that are forced to destroy livestock and carry out costly measures to disinfect the premises. Bearing huge losses, manufacturers are forced to raise prices for their products. This is facilitated by the reduction in supply caused by the elimination of millions of birds in Europe.
The fault of bird flu in December last year, the cost of eggs increased by 2.14%. If the spread of the epidemic will occur under a negative scenario, an increase in the price of eggs during this year could amount to 100-110%, according to the Bloomberg publication, referring to the research of the Korean Institute of Agricultural Economics.
A similar situation is observed in the meat market. Due to the forced reduction of livestock, European producers cannot fill the market with a sufficient amount of poultry products. As a result, the market is already in a state of deficit. However, analysts are not in a hurry to make any predictions of changes in prices for poultry meat. The recorded loss of livestock is not critical and can be offset by imports.
True, with the spread of the epidemic to new territories and an increase in the scale of foci of infection, farmers will have to reduce their livestock even more. In this scenario, it is unlikely to avoid a rise in prices by 20% and even by 50%.
Thus, while the situation with avian flu has not reached a critical point, consumers should not worry. In the arsenal of farmers there are many tools for stopping the spread of the epidemic. These include vaccination, preventive treatment of premises and isolation of healthy livestock. Forced slaughter of a large number of birds will have to resort only if these measures do not bring the desired result.