Avian flu is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the type A orthomyxoviruses (Alphainfluenzavirus or Influenzavirus A) that affects all kinds of birds. All viruses are divided based on the antigenic relationships into 16 hemagglutinin (H1-16) and 9 subtypes of neuraminidase (N1-9).
The majority of the viruses that cause the disease in domestic birds are from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which is severe and leads to 100% mortality.
As in the past, the poultry industry is being impacted by avian influenza during 2021. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has recently reported that HPAI has been detected in 26 countries from Asia, Europe, and the middle east, representing a rapid spread of the virus between flocks with significant effects.
This year, highly pathogenic strains such as H5N1 and H5N6 have been identified in 14 provinces of Vietnam. This country has culled more than 100,000 birds to contain the spread of the disease. Similarly, in Navapur (Maharashtra, India), more than 108,293 poultry birds has been euthanized on Wednesday. On Tuesday, another 231,902 poultry birds were culled, reaching 340,195 dead animals because of the H5N8 strain across the state of Navapur.
Other countries such as Italy, Ukraine, and Bulgaria reported the first avian influenza outbreak one week ago. In general, the predominant strain is H5N8 in Europe. The episode in Bulgaria has impacted layer and duck flocks, with more than 99,000 hens and 160,000 ducks culled.
On the other hand, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service indicated a high risk of avian flu in the U.S since the current European and Asian rates of HPAI are similar to those reported between 2014 to 2015 when the HPAI was identified in the United States.
The presence of avian influenza represents an enormous challenge again. Not only the economic impact and rapid spread of the virus among flocks and countries but for the zoonotic infections that are also emerging.
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