Back in February 2020, the Saudi Arabian government reported an avian flu outbreak on a poultry farm in the central Sudair region. The outbreak cost the loss of over 22,000 birds in a matter of weeks.
This outbreak was reported to be the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus which began to migrate to parts of Russia and Central Asia. Summer months saw the virus in wild birds, including waterfowl, which cause the flu to continue to migrate into northern and western Europe.
In late 2020 and early 2021, the H5N8 continued its international spread, largely from wild migratory birds. The Netherlands to the UK, then onto Ireland and Germany. Denmark, France, and Sweden also saw outbreaks, followed by Japan and China.
Mid-April this year, South Africa confirmed an avian flu outbreak, with samples from a farm in Ekurhuleni testing positive for the H5 strain. Since then, there have been numerous outbreaks in South & West Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana. Thousands of birds have died of the influenza and thousands more have been culled in response to the outbreak. Farms have been quarantined and the movement of poultry has been banned.
While the situation in Africa and Europe appears to be currently under control, Vietnam is still battling H5 variants of the HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza). In the past year, Vietnam has seen 56 outbreaks, 21,000 avian mortalities, and 99,000 birds culled to prevent further spread.
We Have Enough Virus in Our World!
One would think that our world has had quite enough virus with the COVID-19 pandemic, but apparently that has not stopped the spread of avian flu. Just this year alone has seen millions of birds lost to H5N8 outbreaks across Europe and Asia. While the H5N8 strain of avian flu is highly pathogenic among birds, it does not pose a risk to humans. There have been a few cases detected in humans and so far, they have been mild and largely asymptomatic.
Global Trade Specialist
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