The first case of a human contracting the H7N9 strain of avian influenza has been registered in China’s northern province of Shanxi, local media reported Wednesday.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201705171053685264-china-bird-flu-human/

BEIJING (Sputnik) — A 66-year-old woman from the city of Datong was diagnosed with the avian virus and has since been hospitalized, the Xinhua news agency said, adding that the patient remains in grave but stable condition. Those who were in contact with the woman did not reportedly show any symptoms of infection.The first case of a human contracting avian influenza virus was registered in China in March 2013. In January and February, the outbreaks of the H7N9 strain were recorded in a number of Chinese regions, while in March alone, a total of 47 died and 96 were infected from the disease, the news agency detailed, citing the national health and family planning commission.

According to the World Health organization (WHO), avian influenza H7N9 is a subtype of influenza viruses detected primarily in birds, but human cases have been recorded since 2013. The asymptomatic disease is particularly dangerous because it has the potential to make patients severely ill.

Bird Flu Pandemic Hasn’t Changed Atrocious Conditions at Poultry Farms

http://koreabizwire.com/bird-flu-pandemic-hasnt-changed-atrocious-conditions-at-poultry-farms/80831

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

SEOUL, April 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite new government measures that require farmers to make use of larger cages, the horrific conditions that poultry live under at typical factory farms in South Korea are unlikely to change soon, which have been identified as one of the major factors behind the recent influenza Type A pandemic that causes illness to people.

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules.

Existing poultry farms will have 10 years to update their old cages in accordance with the new standards, but critics say the grace period is too long, and that simply making cages slightly bigger won’t get to the root of the problem.

According to current laws regarding poultry farming, chickens are being raised in a space smaller the size of an A4 sheet of paper (0.05 square meters or 0.5 square feet), which means 1 square meter per 20 chickens. When the new rules take place, poultry farms will be required to have their cages built at least 0.075 square meters in size.

The EU already banned (in 2003) the construction of any more of the so-called battery cages, a term that refers to small wire cages in which hens spend their entire lives with little to no space to move around. Since a total ban on battery cages took place in 2012, an increasing number of farmers have adopted free-range farming.

South Korean poultry farms however, have been bucking the trend and engaging in activities that border on animal cruelty, such as keeping the lights on during the night to maximize egg production, exploiting a physiological phenomenon in which a drastic environmental change suddenly increases the egg production of hens.

Despite opposition from animal rights groups, little has been done to secure the wellbeing of farm animals in South Korea.

A representative from the Korea Association for Animal Protection (KAAP), Lee Won-bok, was critical of the government’s move to tackle avian influenza, calling it a ‘makeshift plan’ that will bring little to no change.

“AI pandemics occur almost every year due to the poor living conditions of farm animals, not because of the size of cages,” Lee said.

Hyunsu Yim (hyunsu@koreabizwire.com)

Bird Flu Is a Big Deal. Of Course Trump Wants to Defund the Best Way to Contain It

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/03/avian-flu-spreading-dont-tell-donald-trump

The virus has now hit Georgia, the No. 1 poultry-producing state—and Trump plans to cut surveillance funds.

For the second time in less than three years, avian flu is moving through industrial-scale US chicken facilities. Republicans in power seem too fixated on budget-cutting to notice.

First, President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pushed a health care plan that would have slashed funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that tracks farm flu outbreaks and works with the US Department of Agriculture and local authorities to “minimize any human health risk” they cause.

Given that avian flu is on the march again, one might think it prudent to keep that cash around, devoted to monitoring the 2017 outbreak.

That effort collapsed, but now Trump is taking a more direct whack at flu-tracking funding. A couple of Politico reporters got hold of a budget-cutting proposal the Trump team is circulating in Congress. The document lists $1 billion in suggested cuts to the US Department of Agriculture’s discretionary spending in 2017—which is separate from the “21 percent proposed reduction for USDA that the administration included in its 2018 budget outline released earlier this month,” Politico reports.

Among the cuts being sought for 2017, the Trump team seeks to extract funds from a USDA program funded by Congress in 2015 to address the flu problem that swept through the Midwest that year, triggering the euthanasia of 50 million birds and causing egg prices to spike. Congress had allocated $1 billion for it, of which $80 million is left. Given that avian flu is on the march again, one might think it prudent to keep that cash around, devoted to monitoring the 2017 outbreak. Trump’s budget people have other ideas—they want to take away $50 million of the $80 million left over. Politico quotes the document:

The response to the FY15 [fiscal-year 2015] outbreak is complete, and USDA should still have enough balances to respond to the two recent HPAI [high pathogenic avian influenza] outbreaks in TN [Tennessee] this year.

Of course, this year’s avian flu, albeit a less virulent strain, has broken out of Tennessee, swept into Alabama and Kentucky, and has now alighted in Georgia, the nation’s No. 1 chicken-producing state. It would be interesting to know what Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Trump’s still-pending pick to lead the USDA, thinks of that proposed money-saving measure.

While the CDC insists that the risk that people will come down with the current avian flu strain is “low,” it does work with the Department of Agriculture and state authorities on tracking outbreaks. That’s because health officials have been warningfor decades that massive livestock confinements make an ideal breeding ground for new virus strains, including potentially ones that can jump from bird to human, and then spread among humans. Meanwhile, a different strain of avian flu has swept across Japan, South Korea, and China. It has killed 140 people but has not proved capable of spreading from human to human.

Saudi Arabia temporarily bans poultry imports from Tennessee over bird flu

Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned imports of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Tennessee after a form of bird flu that is highly lethal for poultry was found in the U.S. state, the Saudi ministry of agriculture said on Sunday.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture reported this month that two commercial chicken flocks had been found to have been infected with H7N9 highly pathogenic flu.

In a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said the ban was issued in accordance with a warning issued by the World Organisation of Animal Health and would remain in place “until it is certain that they are free from the disease”.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture said on March 16 that a flock in Lincoln County was found to have been infected with H7N9, the same strain that was reported in another chicken flock less than two miles away on March 5.

The initial case was the country’s first infection of highly pathogenic bird flu at a commercial poultry operation in more than a year.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Bird flu toll in Miyagi, Chiba kept down to [only?] 270,000 chickens

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/26/national/bird-flu-toll-miyagi-chiba-kept-270000-chickens/#.WNgLGTsrLIU

KYODO

The chicken cull sparked by the nation’s latest bird flu outbreaks fell short of the originally planned goal of 300,000 Sunday as authorities in Miyagi and Chiba prefectures opted to settle for roughly 209,000 and 62,000 chickens, respectively.

The two prefectures north of Tokyo were spurred into action by outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5 strain of bird flu at local poultry farms.

Agricultural officials in Chiba finished their cull on Saturday.

The Miyagi Prefectural Government will bury the carcasses underground and disinfect the poultry houses, officials said. It initially planned to kill 220,000 chickens but later reduced it by about 11,000.

The two culls began Friday, with help from Self-Defense Forces personnel.

Since November, the H5 virus has devastated poultry farms in Niigata, Aomori and Miyazaki prefectures as well as Hokkaido.

According to the Miyagi Prefectural Government, a total of 96 chickens were found dead over a three-day period through Thursday at a poultry farm in Kurihara. Six tested positive for bird flu in a preliminary screening.

In Chiba, 118 chickens were found dead over the same three-day period at a farm in Asahi and 10 tested positive in a preliminary test.

Subsequent generic exams detected the highly virulent H5N6 strain of avian influenza in both cases.


Also:  220,000 More Birds Culled in Japan’s Northeast due to Bird Flu

 

TOKYO – Japanese authorities announced on Friday that some 220,000 more birds in the northeast of the country have been slaughtered due to an outbreak of bird flu that has reappeared since the end of 2016.

The latest outbreak was detected on a farm in Miyagi prefecture after hundreds of dead chickens were analyzed throughout the week and were subsequently found that they were infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5.

Regional authorities on Friday began slaughtering all the birds on the farm with help from the Japan Self-Defense Forces, a process that will continue until Sunday.

In addition, the transport of birds and eggs within a radius of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) around the three affected farms has been prohibited, state media NHK television said.

According to the NHK, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai said at a press conference that this is the first outbreak of bird flu detected on a farm in this prefecture.

The outbreak of the virus in this northeastern region follows outbreaks in the country’s southwest, in Miyazaki in January and in Saga in February.

The number of birds slaughtered in Japan has reached around 1.39 million so far since the bird flu was again detected in the country in November 2016 after the 2014 outbreak, prompting the Ministry of Environment to raise the alert to the highest level.

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2433443&CategoryId=13936

What U.S. Poultry Producers Do Not Want You to Know About Bird Flu

http://www.alternet.org/food/what-poultry-producers-dont-want-you-know-about-bird-flu

Once again, bird flu is back in the U.S. From 2014 through mid-2015, 48 million chickens and turkeys were killed in the U.S. to prevent the disease’s spread and protect famer’s profits.

Factory farmers routinely fight to keep images of how poultry are raised out of public view, so consumers do not lose their appetites and will continue eating their products. Industrial farmers also fight hard to keep images of how chickens and turkeys are “euthanized” out of the public view.

It is easy to see why. To prevent the spread of bird flu, healthy, floor-reared turkeys and broiler chickens are herded into an enclosed area where they were administered propylene glycol foam to suffocate them. Michael Blackwell, chief veterinary officer at The Humane Society of the United States, likens death by foam to “cuffing a person’s mouth and nose, during which time you are very much aware that your breathing has been precluded.”

“Ventilation shutdown” is also used to kill healthy birds and prevent the spread of the flu. It raises the barn temperature to at least 104F for a minimum of three hours killing the entire flock—a method so extreme that even factory farmers admit it is cruel. During the 2015 outbreak, “Round the clock incinerators and crews in hazmat suits,” were required for the bird depopulation reported Fortune—a sequence likely to occur again.

Factory farmers like to blame bird flu on “migratory birds,” denying that high-volume production methods allow the spread of the disease. But the fact is, factory farms house 300,000 or more egg layers in one barn versus only tens of thousands of birds in “broiler barns” which is why the flu spreads so quickly among egg-laying hens.

Moreover, we the taxpayers compensate factory farmers for their self-induced losses and appalling farm practices.

“The poultry industry appreciates the fact that the USDA helps protect the health of the nation’s livestock and poultry by responding to major animal disease events such as this,” said a letter from the National Association Egg Farmers to Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics during the previous bird flu outbreak. But please “provide indemnification for the whole flock and not just the surviving,” the letter asks.

The only interaction most people have with poultry production is the prices they pay at the grocery store. When prices are low, people do not think twice. When prices jump—as they likely will with the new bird flu outbreak—few realize the higher prices are a direct result of the conditions that make low prices possible because they invite disease.

If an egg carton said, “30,000 hens were suffocated with propylene glycol foam to keep this low price,” would people buy the eggs? Would anyone buy a Thanksgiving turkey whose label said, “thousands of healthy turkeys were smothered to keep this low price?”

In addition to hiding the round-the-clock suffocation of birds to prevent bird flu’s spread, factory farmers assure the public that bird flu is not a threat to humans so people should keep eating their products. Sadly, their claim is not totally true.

During a bird flu outbreak, the unethical and deceptive practices of poultry producers are in full view. Yet, it is not hard to find healthy, protein-packed alternatives to factory farm-produced poultry products. By doing so, the U.S. public sends a strong message to poultry producers.

Tiny genetic change lets bird flu leap to humans

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39339418

Poultry, ChinaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAt least six provinces have reported human cases of H7N9 influenza this year, according to Chinese state media

A change in just a single genetic “letter” of the flu virus allows bird flu to pass to humans, according to scientists.

Monitoring birds for viruses that carry the change could provide early warning of risk to people, they say.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong studied a strain of bird flu that has caused human cases in China for several years.

Birds carry many flu viruses, but only a few strains can cause human disease.

H7N9 is a strain of bird flu that has caused more than 1,000 infections in people in China, according to the World Health Organization.

Most cases are linked to contact with infected poultry or live poultry markets.

The change in a single nucleotide (a building block of RNA) allows the H7N9 virus to infect human cells as well as birds, say Prof Honglin Chen and colleagues.

They say there is “strong interest in understanding the mechanism underpinning the ability of this virus to cause human infections and identification of residues that support replication in mammalians cells is important for surveillance of circulating strains.”

Flare-up

Dr Derek Gatherer, an expert on viruses at Lancaster University, UK, says more surveillance of bird flu viruses is needed.

“The recent flare-up of H7N9 bird flu in China has been the cause of some concern this winter, and the demonstration that the new replicative efficiency mutation is present in this strain is not good news,” he told BBC News.

“Also, the observation that this mutation has been present in other bird flu subtypes like H9N2 and spreading slowly for over 15 years shows that H7N9 isn’t the only kind of bird flu that is potentially a pandemic risk for humans.

“We need to maintain a broader surveillance of bird flu to identify which strains have this mutation.”

The research, published in the journal, Nature Communications, will help scientists understand more about how bird flu viruses adapt to infect humans.

SECOND TENNESSEE FLOCK FOUND WITH BIRD FLU

http://kticradio.com/agricultural/second-tennessee-flock-found-with-bird-flu/

Second Tennessee flock found with bird flu

WASHINGTON — The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee in a flock of 73,500 breeding broiler chickens.

It is not the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia, nor is it related to the virus that caused the 2015 U.S. outbreak.

The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case.

Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

In 2015, an avian influenza outbreak triggered the destruction of millions of chickens and turkeys in the Midwest.

The USDA also said a flock of 84,000 turkeys at a Jennie-O Turkey Store farm near Barron, Wisconsin, had been confirmed with a low pathogenic H5N2 virus. The USDA stressed it was different from the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus that devastated the Midwest chicken egg and turkey industry in 2015.

Quarantine

State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun. Federal and state partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread.

As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. kills bacteria and viruses.

Affects all poultry

Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus that can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.

© 2017 Nebraska Rural Radio Association.

UN body urges China to act as bird flu deaths spike

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-body-urges-china-bird-flu.html

March 17, 2017

The UN’s food agency on Friday urged China to step up efforts to contain and eliminate a strain of bird flu which has killed scores of people this year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that countries neighbouring China were at “” of exposure to the H7N9 strain, which has recently mutated to become far more deadly for chicken than it had been.

The agency also warned that wild birds could carry the strain of the virus to Europe and the Americas, adding that it was baffled as to why China’s efforts to contain the outbreak had not worked as well as anticipated.

The FAO’s statement came after China reported last month that 79 people had died in January alone, the deadliest H7N9 outbreak since the strain first appeared in humans in 2013.

Nearly one in three people who contract H7N9 die from it.

FAO said the recent surge in cases in eastern and southern parts of China meant the virus had caused more reported human cases than all other types of avian influenza viruses, such as H5N1 and H5N6, combined.

Vincent Martin, the FAO’s representative in China, said efforts to contain the outbreak needed to focus on eliminating the strain at its source.

“Targeted surveillance to detect the disease and clean infected farms and live bird markets, intervening at critical points along the poultry value chain—from farm to table—is required,” he said.

“There should be incentives for everybody involved in poultry production and marketing to enforce disease control.”

The agency recognised that China had invested heavily in surveillance of live bird markets and poultry farms while noting that monitoring has “proven particularly challenging as until recently (the strain) has shown no or few signs of disease in chickens.”

The organisation said new evidence from Guangdong in southern China pointed to H7N9 having mutated to become much deadlier for chickens while retaining its capacity to make humans severely ill.

This could make it easier to spot outbreaks, as infected chickens are typically dying within 48 hours of infection, but it also underscores the potentially huge economic implications of the mutation, FAO said.

The FAO emphasised that there was no risk of humans catching the potentially deadly influenza strain by eating chicken.

China has suspended trade in live poultry in several cities, urged consumers to switch to frozen chicken, enforced stricter hygiene standards in fresh food markets, and culled affected flocks.

“With all the efforts taken by China and partners, there is a pressing need to understand why these measures have not worked as well as expected,” the FAO said.

Explore further: Some China cities close poultry markets amid bird flu fears

 © 2017 AFP

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-body-urges-china-bird-flu.html#jCp