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Reeling from coronavirus, Asia’s poultry farmers fight fowl flu outbreak

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By Rajendra Jadhav and Yuka Obayashi

MUMBAI/TOKYO (Reuters) – Asia’s hen farmers are confronting the region’s worst bird flu outbreak in several years, with the deadly virus influencing farms stretching from Japan to India, roiling some poultry costs and showing no symptoms of easing.

Much more than 20 million chickens have been wrecked in South Korea and Japan given that November. The extremely pathogenic H5N8 virus final 7 days arrived at India, the world’s No. 6 producer, and has now been reported in 10 states.

Even though fowl flu is common in Asia at this time of year owing to migratory bird designs, new strains of the virus have progressed to become additional lethal in wild birds, creating international locations on flight pathways particularly vulnerable, say industry experts.

Graphic: Nations with hen flu outbreaks – https://graphics.reuters.com/Health-BIRDFLU/OUTBREAKS/xegvbennrpq/chart.png

“This is one of the worst outbreaks at any time in India,” claimed Mohinder Oberoi, an Indian animal health and fitness pro and former advisor to the U.N.’s Food stuff and Agriculture Firm (FAO).

“There is a ton of illness in crows and ducks. Persons are frightened of the disease in crows. They know they fly far and feel they are going to infect their poultry or even people today.”

The Asian outbreak will come as Europe suffers its worst chicken flu outbreak in a long time, and follows on the heels of COVID-19, which harm poultry income early on in some places amid false sickness fears but is now driving up demand thanks to additional residence cooking.

Graphic: Full outbreaks of avian flu by place and region – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/yxmpjygxavr/HPAIByCountry.png

Chicken price ranges in India fell just about a third previous 7 days as cautious buyers, more and more nervous about illness because the pandemic, steered apparent of the meat.

Hen flu can not infect individuals by way of poultry use, and the H5N8 virus is not acknowledged to have at any time infected humans, but people are however fearful, stated Uddhav Ahire, chairman of Anand Agro Group, a poultry company based in the western city of Nashik.

Are living chicken costs are previously as very low as 58 Indian rupees ($.79) a kilogram, beneath the price of generation, he claimed.

In South Korea and Japan, no industry effect has been noticed however, officers stated, with more robust desire for chicken meat for property cooked meals for the duration of lockdowns owning a increased outcome on charges.

VIRUS EVOLUTION

The fast and vast geographic spread of the most up-to-date outbreaks make this 1 of the worst waves in Asia due to the fact the early 2000s.

In Japan, the place outbreaks have been described from Chiba around Tokyo to additional than 1,000 km (620 miles) absent in Miyazaki on Kyushu island in just two months, contemporary instances are continue to developing.

“We are not able to say hazard of the even further distribute of bird flu has diminished as the migration time for wild birds will proceed until March, or even April in some scenarios,” explained an animal well being official in the agriculture ministry.

Graphic: Japan’s birdflu outbreak by prefecture – https://graphics.reuters.com/Overall health-BIRDFLU/JAPAN/qzjpqdwyavx/Chicken-flu-Japan.jpg

The H5N8 viruses detected in Japan and Korea are pretty equivalent to those people that spread via Europe in 2019, which in transform evolved from viruses that were commonplace in 2014, claimed Filip Claes, head of the FAO’s Unexpected emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Illnesses (ECTAD).

A distinctive variant circulating in Europe given that late 2020 is also creating major problems.

The new strains are resulting in a lot more harm now they are additional lethal in wild birds, reported Holly Shelton, influenza professional at Britain’s Pirbright Institute.

“It is really pretty distinct that this virus has established by itself in the wild chook inhabitants and so now there is certainly a increased propensity for it to spill about again into poultry farms,” she mentioned.

Graphic: World-wide rooster meat production – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/yzdvxgywdpx/WorldPoultryJan2021.png

A obligatory flu vaccination for poultry in China has protected the region’s top rated producer, even however the virus has killed wild swans there.

Indonesia, Asia’s No.2 producer, is only a non permanent transit place for wild birds, lowering its risk of an infection, mentioned Fadjar Sumping Tjatur Rassa, director of animal wellness at the Agriculture Ministry.

Even now, the country has banned stay fowl imports from international locations with H5N8 and set up a surveillance program for early detection of the virus, he explained.

With no big bird flight pathways more than Southeast Asia, countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have so far been spared H5N8 outbreaks, but facial area risks from the motion of people and goods.

“It will keep spreading until a further virus arrives together to swap it,” said Shelton.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Aaron Sheldrick and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo and Dominique Patton in Beijing. Extra reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul and Bernadette Christina in Jakarta. Producing by Dominique Patton. Editing by Richard Pullin)

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