Emergency Animal Disease Alerts - Vol 9 Issue 1 - January 2015

​​​​​Haemorrhagic fevers

Ebola virus

The WHO recorded 21,171 known cases and 8,371 deaths due to Ebola in the current outbreak in West Africa as of 8 January 2015. These figures are a likely under estimate of actual losses.

Researchers have developed an animal model of Ebola infection using guinea pigs. This work has demonstrated that the virus can spread without direct contact.

The European Food Safety Authority has released a risk assessment related to household pets in contact with human Ebola cases.

The AVMA has drafted interim guidance for public health officials on pets of Ebola virus disease contacts.

Interim guidance for dog or cat quarantine after exposure to a human with confirmed Ebola disease.

Lassa fever

15 human cases of Lassa fever resulting in 9 deaths were reported in Benin in November 2014. This disease is endemic in Benin and Nigeria. Multimammate rats are the reservoir hosts.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Cases of the novel coronavirus MERS-CoV continue to be reported in the Middle East. As of 5 January 2015, 944 cases have been confirmed with 348 deaths (case fatality rate of 36.9%).

A survey of horses, donkeys and mules in Spain and the United Arab Emirates found no evidence of infection with MERS-CoV.

Work in Saudi Arabia has found that 97% of human cases were healthcare associated and only 3% were camel associated.  No evidence of infection was found in camels imported from the horn of Africa but 58% of workers in camel abattoirs had antibodies to MERS.

Iran reported the presence of MERS in camels imported illegally from Pakistan.

Vesicular stomatitis (VS)

Since May 2014, 644 premises in the states of Texas, Nebraska, Colorado and Arizona were affected by a large outbreak of VS (New Jersey serotype). Affected species included 27 pigs, 144 sheep, 287 goats, 4,426 horses, 9,023 cattle and 107 other species.

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle and occasionally swine, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. Rarely humans can also become infected with VS virus when handling affected animals.

While VS does not generally cause affected animals to die, it can still cause economic losses. The disease is primarily significant because its outward clinical signs are similar to (although generally less severe than) those of foot and mouth disease and swine vesicular disease. The only way to differentiate these diseases is by laboratory testing.

How VS spreads is not fully known; insect vectors, mechanical transmission and animal movements are all factors.


Bluetongue has been active in southern Europe during the summer and autumn of 2014.

Image of a sheep with bluetongue  

Photo and map courtesy of Dr Tsviatko Alexandrov, NVMS, Bulgaria

Map showing the areas where bluetongue is evident 

Bluetongue virus serotype 4 (BTV-4) was reported in Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus. The virus resulted in widespread disease and some deaths in sheep, goats and cattle. Some affected countries are planning vaccination programs for 2015 to prevent a major epidemic.See presentations for Oct & Dec

The morbidity and case fatality rates varied greatly, influenced by the species affected and vector density.

The major vector was thought to be the Culicoides obsoletus complex species. Outbreaks were earlier reported in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Restricted outbreaks of BTV-1 were reported from Spain, Italy and Croatia.

A report from California has indicated that bluetongue virus can overwinter in the vector (Culicoides sonorensis) in temperate zones.

African swine fever (ASF)

Estonia has reported 6 cases in wild boar, Latvia has reported cases on 32 farms and in 181 wild boar, Lithuania 4 cases in wild boar and Poland 22 cases in wild boar near border with Belarus.

Since our last issue, ASF has been reported in wild boar in the Ukraine.

Influenza A


Human cases were reported in Egypt, China and, possibly Libya and Nigeria (isolates not serotyped), while outbreaks in poultry were reported in India and Russia.


Canada reported an outbreak of H5N2 in turkeys and chicken in British Columbia. Germany (in poultry) and USA (in Pintail ducks and backyard poultry) reported low pathogenic outbreaks of H5N2.

A new strain of H5N2 was reported in geese and poultry in Taiwan.


China reported an outbreak of H5N3 in a live bird market.


The second huma​n case was reported in China and cases reported in poultry in Vietnam. FAO released information on the emergence of H5N6.


Outbreaks were reported in China, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, USA, Italy and Russia.

The same H5N8 virus was also detected in a number of wild waterfowl species in Asia and USA, and in an apparently healthy common teal (Anas crecca) hunted in Germany. These findings support the hypothesis that wild birds may have played a role in the long-distance spread of H5N8 from Asia to Europe.

It also seems likely that the virus was introduced through means other than common poultry production channels because it was detected:

  1. in a short time frame;
  2. in three European countries and three very different production systems; and
  3. in the absence of epidemiological links between the index farms of these countries or to Asia.


Low pathogenic H7N1 was reported in birds in South Africa.


Further human cases were reported in southern China followed by destruction of 19,000 poultry in Hong Kong when H7N9 was detected in a live bird market. There have now been more than 488 human cases and 175 deaths in China.


The deaths of 3,000 harbour seals off Denmark and Sweden during 2014 have been associated with H7N10 infection. Phylogenetic analysis indicates this virus may have originated in aquatic birds.

Recent publications

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners released guidelines on bovine euthanasia as well as castration and dehorning guidelines.

The NSW DPI has published “Australian bat lyssavirus guidelines for veterinarians”.


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 or contact your local government vet.

You are not alone.​​