USA, Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the latest avian flu developments, Bulgaria and South Africa reported outbreaks from highly pathogenic strains, and a US vaccine company announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has conditionally approved the first DNA avian flu vaccine for chickens.
Also, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided a snapshot of current highly pathogenic H5 observations and what could play out in the upcoming season, and Chinese researchers reported new findings on airborne spread of avian flu based on sampling in a live-poultry market.
Outbreaks in Bulgaria and south Africa
In Bulgaria, the latest outbreaks began Nov 2, hitting backyard birds in Sliven province and a commercial poultry farm in neighboring Jambol province located in the country's southeast, according to a notification today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Testing so far indicates an H5 strain, which killed 112 of 12,188 birds between the two locations. The remaining ones were culled to curb the spread of the disease. In mid October, Bulgaria reported a pair of H5 outbreaks, its first since April, which struck backyard birds and a farm in two other provinces, Dobric and Haskovo.
Elsewhere, South Africa reported four more H5N8 outbreaks, two involving farm settings and two affecting other types of birds, according to separate reports today from the OIE. All occurred in Western Cape province, which has been hit hard by the virus over the past few months. The two new farm-related outbreaks occurred at commercial ostrich facilities; one began on Aug 15 and the other started on Sep 26. Between the two locations, the virus sickened 39 of 1,733 birds, and culling is among the planned response steps. South Africa's two other detections were in an Egyptian goose found dead in Cape Town on Oct 23 and in hobby chickens at another location in Western Cape province. The latter outbreak began on Oct 31, killing 24 of the 37 birds at the site.
First DNA vaccine for chickens
Meanwhile, AgriLabs, a vaccine company based in St. Joseph, Mo., yesterday announced that the USDA has conditionally approved the first DNA vaccine licensed for chickens, which targets highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza, in case vaccine stockpiling is needed to control future outbreaks.
In a statement, the company said the vaccine is made by splicing an antigen related to the highly pathogenic H5 subtype into a bacterial plasmid, which is multiplied, purified, and administered with an adjuvant. AgriLabs said the approval marks the first DNA-based flu vaccine for veterinary use and is one of the first DNA vaccine approved in the United States for food animals.
Source: University of Minnesota