World: Latest Updates on the Avian Influenza Outbreaks

Duck Meat
Published Jan 13, 2021
The spread of highly contagious strains of the Avian Influenza has continued in the EU and Asia in recent months. France, one of the top global exporters of duck meat, is set to extend the mass culling of birds to curb the spread of the virus, having already slaughtered 400,000 ducks. Lithuania has reported a new outbreak of the virus in the town of Kaunas and monitoring zones have been placed to assess the situation. In India, the outbreak has accelerated from 7 to 10 states, as mass culling of birds continues.

France extends mass culling to curtail the outbreak

The continued spread of bird flu has been felt by numerous European countries, with highly contagious strains of the virus reported in the region. France is one of the affected countries, with increased cases of the H5N8 bird flu strain affecting duck farms in the Landes region. According to French authorities, 119 outbreaks have been confirmed in the Landes to date, a significant rise from the 48 reported on the 1st of January. As a result, France has already been affected by trade restrictions, with China placing a suspension of all French poultry imports this week.

The current outbreak has raised fears that the spread of the virus may reach the same levels that were reached during the crisis in 2016/17, when millions of birds had to be slaughtered to curb the spread of the virus. France has, therefore, taken the decision to extend the mass culling of poultry in the southwest region of the country. It is hoped that this will contain the virus. As it stands, approximately 400 000 ducks have been slaughtered in the region and a further several thousand more are set to be culled. The Ministry of Agriculture has also stated that compensation will be allocated to the French farmers for culled poultry.

A new outbreak in Lithuania leads to an import ban by Taiwan

According to reports from the World Organisation for Animal Health(OIE), a new outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu virus has been detected at a smallholding in the town of Kaunas, Lithuania. The farm had a total of 27 birds, including chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. 22 birds were killed by the highly pathogenic virus, with the rest being culled. Following this news, Taiwan placed a ban on the import of live poultry from Lithuania. However, this will not affect local supplies in any way, as Taiwan does not currently import live poultry from the country.

According to media reports, this is the first outbreak of the virus in poultry in the country. The avian influenza virus did, however, infect wild birds in 2017. Following this new outbreak in Kaunas, restrictions and monitoring zones have been put in place, and specialists from the State Food and Veterinary Services are set to conduct examinations in these zones to assess the extent of the virus’ proliferation.

The bird flu outbreak reaches 10 states in India

The bird flu outbreak has continued to accelerate in India, covering a total of 10 states to date. Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand are the latest states to confirm the outbreak, with the other states being Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Amid concern about increased risk from foreign imports, the import of live birds has been banned in Delhi, and the largest wholesale poultry market in Ghazipur has been closed temporarily. Rapid response teams have been established in every district in the capital. In Maharashtra, approximately 800 birds died in Parbhani in a space of 2 days. The culling of 8,000 birds in Murumba village has been initiated. Following the death of 12,000 ducks, tens of thousands of birds were culled in Kerala during the past week. The culling of birds has also begun in Panchkula district, Haryana after bird deaths were recorded in the state. Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh has banned the slaughter, sale, purchase and export of poultry, fish and their related products, following the death of over 2 000 birds.

Broiler chicken prices fell by almost a third in a week to 60 rupees a kg from around 90 rupees a week ago and the demand of broiler chicken has fallen by 30%. Egg prices have also fallen by more than 10% in the space of a week and farmers are trying to sell their products as soon as possible, as they fear a further drop. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has arranged for officials of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry to look into the availability of vaccines for animals.

Updates from around the world

- Senegal has reported the initial occurrence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

- A further outbreak has been reported in the Netherlands, leading to the death of 100 birds in North Brabant province.

- In Poland, outbreaks have been reported in Lubelskie and Dolnoslaskie province, leading to the death of over 80 000 birds.


Focus Taiwan. “Taiwan bans imports of live poultry from Lithuania over bird flu.” 

Reuters. “Lithuania reports H5N8 bird flu in backyard poultry - OIE.” 

RT. “Outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus detected in Lithuanian poultry.” 

Reuters. “France to cull more ducks in 'race against time' to halt bird flu.” 

Reuters. “Bird flu outbreak dents chicken sales in India, hits farmers.” 

NDTV. “Bird Flu Hits 10 States, Delhi Sees Loss Of ₹ 2.5 Crore: 10 Points.” 

CIDRAP. “Global flu remains low; H5N1 avian flu in Senegal.” 

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