Emergency Animal Disease Alerts - Vol 8 Issue 3 - October 2014

Haemorrhagic fevers

Ebola virus

The largest reported outbreak of Ebola is occurring in West Africa and is caused by a strain of the Zaire Ebola virus. More than 10,000 cases and 4,900 deaths have been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Mali. Infection has spread by cultural practices and the movement of exposed individuals whilst a lack of resources has hampered control efforts. Many cases have involved health carers.

Another, smaller outbreak of Ebola has been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also due to the Zaire strain but appears to be less pathogenic than that in West Africa. The virus has been recovered from the spleens of bats, rats, monkeys and giant cane rats, with bats being the likely reservoir hosts. ProMED-mail

Marburg virus

Margburg virus caused 4 cases in workers at the Kitaka mine and 2 tourists at Python cave in 2007 and 15 cases in 2012 in the nearby town of Ibanda in Uganda. The virus was shown to be carried by Rousettus aegyptiacus bats. Attempts were made to depopulate known bat colonies in the area. Bats repopulated the mine and recent testing indicates 13% of the bats were positive for Marburg virus. Marburgvirus Resurgence in Kitaka Mine Bat Population after Extermination Attempts, Uganda

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - MERS

Cases of the novel coronavirus MERS-CoV continue to be reported in the Middle East. More than 890 cases have been recorded, resulting in more than 350 deaths. The number of cases reported since June 2014 was declining but increased in recent weeks.
Monitoring current threats, week 35/2014: ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)

The WHO provides a good summary of current knowledge at: Frequently Asked Questions on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS‐CoV)

Saudi Arabia is now testing camels for the presence of coronavirus at ports before allowing entry. A coronavirus (NeoCoV) recently isolated from the faeces of Neoromicia capensis bats in South Africa is closely related to MERS-CoV. 

MERS-CoV may have emerged in bats or camels in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Rooting the phylogenetic tree of MERS-Coronavirus by characterization of a conspecific virus from an African Bat

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

In May 2014 the OIE declared the following areas free of FMD where vaccination is used: Republic of Korea, north Patagonia (Argentina), a new zone in Brazil and one zone in Bolivia. List of FMD free Member Countries

Outbreak FMD 

Outbreaks of FMD
1/1/14 - 22/9/14
Red - current
Blue - resolved

Disease outbreak maps

Recent outbreaks have been reported in North and South Africa and Asia. In July 2014 the Republic of Korea advised of an outbreak of serotype O in pigs.

Since 2010 FAO has considered pools of virus affecting countries:

Serotypes O, A, Asia1 have been reported from Central/East Asia pool, South Asia pool and West Eurasia and Middle East pool; serotypes O, A, SAT1, SAT2 from Eastern Africa and West/Central Africa;
serotypes (O, A), Sat1, SAT2, SAT3 from Southern Africa and serotypes O, A from South America.
Foot-and-Mouth Disease Situation Monthly Report July 2014

Recent extension of SAT2 into North Africa and the Middle East has required vaccines to be reassessed.

Myanmar recently joined with ASEAN nations and China in actively combating FMD as part of the regional OIE FMD control program.

Researchers in the UK announced in 2013 the development of a new synthetic FMD vaccine. The vaccine is heat stable and effective in protecting cattle. The research now needs to extend the technique to other serotypes and to develop the ability to scale up production before it will be available commercially.
The science behind the new foot-and-mouth disease vaccine

Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR)

PPR is a morbillivirus related to rinderpest virus. It causes an acute, contagious and frequently fatal disease of goats and sheep characterised by fever, ocular and nasal discharges, oral erosions, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

PPR has spread from West Africa, through the Middle East and across Asia. Many millions of small ruminants in previously free areas (southern and North Africa, in Central Asia, in South East Asia and in China) are now at high risk of PPR virus. Since 2013 outbreaks have been reported in Tajikistan, across China and in Bhutan.

FAO and OIE have targeted PPR for special attention with efforts concentrating on the global control of this disease. Several technical aspects of PPR favour its control:

  • there is a single serotype, with cheap, robust and safe live vaccines available, which confer lifelong immunity
  • no carrier state following infection
  • possibly no reservoir outside domesticated small ruminants
  • diagnostic tests are available, or can quickly be made available, including serological tests for sero-monitoring of vaccine programmes and detection
  • there is growing technical and political support for eradication.

(Peter Roeder, Taurus Animal Health, UK)

African swine fever (ASF)

Since our last report on ASF in Vol. 8 Issue 1, further cases have been reported in wild boar in Poland and Lithuania, wild boar and domestic pigs in Latvia (third EU country infected) and in wild boar in Estonia. This spread is of concern to the European Union.
Exceptional epidemiological events

The bottom line is FMD, PPR and ASF are all actively spreading and we need to be vigilant.

Influenza A


Reported in swine in the USA. Two of the isolates carry a novel human H3 gene.


A H3N2 variant virus was detected in humans in Ohio, USA, similar to viruses detected in swine.
Flu Scan for Aug 29, 2014


H3N8 isolated from harbour seals in 2011 shown to be capable of infecting humans.
Avian Flu in Seals Could Infect People


It was recently shown that equine H3N8 could infect cats resulting in clinical disease and virus shedding as in dogs.  
Equine Influenza A(H3N8) Virus Infection in Cats


HPAI H5N6 reported in China, Vietnam and Laos in geese, ducks and poultry and one human case in China. FAO is concerned re the potential economic impact on farming communities and the potential for further spread.  News Scan for Sep 22, 2014


Outbreaks continued in domestic chickens and geese in the Republic of Korea. No human cases have been reported. ProMED-mail


H7N2 was isolated from chickens on a farm where a human case of H7N9 was reported in China. It is believed to be a reassortment of H7N9 and H9N2 found on the same farm. Flu Scan for Sep 05, 2014


H7N9 has spread to the Xinjiang Uygur in western China. There have now been more than 450 human cases in China.  ProMED-mail


A recent study of pigs in southern China suggested that 8.5% had evidence of exposure to H9 viruses
Serological report of influenza a (H7N9) infections among pigs in Southern China


You may be looking at the first case and you do not want to become famous as the vet who missed it!

Use the hotline number 1800 675 888 as hundreds of your colleagues do each year or contact your local government vet. 

You are not alone.