Emergency Animal Disease Alerts, Vol. 9 Issue 4

​​​September 2015

Global AI Situation Update

Since our last issue there have been many reports of avian influenza across the globe. The outbreaks of H5N2 and H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in North America continue. Canada reports additional outbreaks of H5N2 HPAI in Ontario (poultry), and H5N8 HPAI in British Colombia (wild birds). In the USA, outbreaks in poultry, turkeys and wild birds have caused significant losses, with more than 48 million birds dead or destroyed. It has been estimated that direct losses to industry so far are around $US1.75 billion. The US federal government has paid $US191 million in compensation and $US400 million in clean up costs, and lost poultry exports have been valued at $US390 million (or 14%). These figures demonstrate how quickly losses can increase during an extensive EAD outbreak. The US CVO advised a Senate committee that the key lessons learnt included ensuring the rapid destruction of infected birds, rapid disposal of carcasses and having adequate human resources to respond. Read the article.

The US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released an epidemiologic review of the outbreak.

APHIS has increased its workforce by 3200 to finalise response activities and to prepare for potential outbreaks in the autumn, when migratory birds return.

Other reports since the last issue

ProMED-mail website
CIDRAP, News & Perspective website


A new strain continues to cause outbreaks of the canine and feline influenza in many states in the USA. H3N8 vaccine is not effective against this strain. A variant H3N2 has been detected in pigs and humans in the USA.


Cases reported in poultry in Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Palestine and Vietnam; wild birds in China, Mongolia, Russia and Turkey and in humans in Egypt.


H5N2 HPAI was reported in China (poultry), South Africa (ostrich) and Taiwan (poultry). Low pathogenic avian influenza virus was reported in poultry in Mexico.


H5N6 HPAI was reported in poultry in China and Vietnam and in humans in China.


H5N8 HPAI was reported in poultry in South Korea and Taiwan.


H7N7 HPAI cases were reported in poultry in UK and Germany. A H7N7 LPAI virus was reported in Germany.


Further human cases were reported in China.


In Vol. 5 Issue 3 we noted the recent apparent re-emergence of glanders (caused by Burkholderia mallei) in horses in many overseas countries, particularly in the Middle East. This is of particular concern with the high mobility of horse populations moving to competitions and for breeding.

Germany advised the OIE of a confirmed case in January 2015. The horse was subclinical and detected when tested for movement.  Repeated testing of contact horses proved negative and Germany declared freedom from glanders in June 2015. This case resulted in large disruptions to the movement of horses from Germany. More information is available on the OIE website.

Brazil’s agriculture ministry reported that at least 1 horse diagnosed with glanders had spent several months at the army equestrian complex that will host the Olympic riding events in 2016. This has caused concern for those intending to attend the event.Visit the ProMED-mail website for more information.

Would you be able to recognise a case of glanders? If not, see information on glanders.


Cases have continued in west Africa. As at 9 September 2015 the WHO reported 28,147 cases of which 15,194 were confirmed, 2618 probable cases and 10,335 suspected cases.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Cases of the novel coronavirus MERS-CoV continue. As of 11 September 2015, 1542 cases have been confirmed with 544 deaths since 2012. The 185 cases and 36 deaths in the Republic of Korea started with the return of an aged man from the Middle East. Subsequent cases occurred in family members, health staff and other patients, with one case travelling to China. One case was reported in Thailand ex Oman. More information is available​ on the ProMED-mail website.

Vesicular stomatitis (VS)

The clinical signs of VS are similar to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), including vesicles, erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats, and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. The virus is not very contagious from animal to animal. The main method of spread is through insect vectors, primarily biting flies.

This disease affects mainly cattle and horses in the USA each year. In 2015 the USDA veterinary Service delisted VS as a foreign animal disease and local jurisdictions investigate and control the disease. In 2015 cases were reported in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona and as far north as South Dakota, where it had not been reported since 1982. Controls feature movement restrictions on infected and in-contact animals, vector controls and good sanitation. Can VS and FMD be differentiated clinically?

Lumpy skin disease (LSD)

This disease has been active in the Middle East with recent reports from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, north Cyprus and Turkey. The first outbreak of LSD to occur in the European Union was reported in Greece on 21 August 2015. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK has released a preliminary outbreak assessment report.

African swine fever (ASF)

This disease has been very active in recent years. The OIE reports it as being present in 2015 in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Chad, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bisseau, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nambia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. In addition, the outbreak in Eastern Europe is active with recent reports from Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. There have been 620 outbreaks reported across Eastern Europe in 2015. The disease is spread by infection in wild boars and movement of infected meat. Poland has had 75 cases in its east and has culled 5800 pigs in the area. It will not allow pig breeding in the region until 2018 in an attempt to prevent further spread.

Diagnostic Eartags?

The University of Calgary is using an in-ear accelerometer unit to quantify ear movements as well as time spent feeding, ruminating, resting and active in an attempt to detect diseased animals before they show visually detectable clinical signs.

Rickettsia felis – mosquito-borne

Rickettsia are small obligate intracellular parasites, maintained in animal and arthropod reservoirs and transmitted by arthropod vectors (ticks, fleas, lice or mites) to humans. R. felis is the only rickettsia pathogenic for humans spread by fleas. A recent report has added mosquitoes to the list of R. felis infected arthropods, a potential emergent global threat for humans.

Perkinsea protists in tadpoles

Perkinsus sp. are associated with mortalities in shell fish populations. A ​recent report has identified a distinct Perkinsea clade in the livers of 38 tadpoles sampled from 14 genera from 5 countries across 3 continents. This finding may be linked to amphibian population declines.

Emerging fungal diseases

Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola consumes keratin causing abnormal moulting and mortality in snakes in eastern and mid-western USA.

Chytridiomycosis, caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has led to a drastic decline in amphibian populations across many countries. B. salamandrivorans is similarly affecting salamander fauna in North America.

These diseases are believed to have been spread by international trade in the host species.

White nose syndrome, caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is also believed to be causing rapid, massive declines in bat populations in North America.

These fungal diseases are hav​ing significant impacts on wild populations with no treatments yet available.

Recent publications

Meat & Livestock Australia have released a report – A priority list of endemic diseases for the red meat industries.

MERS-CoV in Upper Respiratory Tract and Lungs of Dromedary Camels in Saudi Arabia, 2013-2014 .


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.