Multiple H5N1 outbreaks reported in Asia

Animal health officials in South Korea, Myanmar and Japan have reported outbreaks of the H5N1 avian influenza in poultry, leading to the cancellation of several bird-related events and potential damage to the local economies.

In Japan's Miyazaki prefecture, there have been two H5N1 outbreaks in the last week, leading to five altogether during the flu season. This has prompted the culling of 96,600 chickens in the local towns of Kawaminami and Nobeoka, CIDRAP News reports.

Japan's agriculture ministry held an emergency meeting last Saturday with the prefectural officials and urged them to do more to ensure farms are complying with biosecurity rules. Bird-related events at zoos and aquariums and even a marathon scheduled to be run through a wintering area for migratory cranes have been cancelled.

South Korean veterinary officials have reported an outbreak of the H5N1 virus at 14 additional locations between January 17 and January 25 that affected five provinces, CIDRAP News reports. Close to 11,000 birds have died from the disease and 281,700 were culled to reduce the spread. Authorities have disinfected affected farms and intensified surveillance.

In Myanmar, there are six more locations where the H5N1 virus has spread and close to 53,500 birds have been culled to reduce the spread, CIDRAP News reports.

There is also a suspected H5N1 outbreak in Thailand. An investigation is underway to determine the reason that 100 chickens died mysteriously. There have been no reports of any human illnesses related to the chicken deaths in Thailand, according to the country's public health official.