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Free Living Birds in Japan Yield H5N8 HPAI


In a report to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), Dr. Norio Kumagai, Chief Veterinary Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture in Japan, reported on numerous isolations of H5N8 avian influenza from free-living birds in prefectures where outbreaks of H5N8 avian influenza have been diagnosed in commercial poultry.  Mandarin ducks were diagnosed in Wakayama, a peregrine falcon in Okayama, buzzards in Kagawa, and a crane in Kagoshima. In the case of this prefecture, no cases in commercial poultry have been recorded in 2020 to date, but previous outbreaks associated with migratory birds have occurred in previous years including 2017.


The report from Japan emphasizes the need for surveillance of migratory birds and resident raptors to detect the presence of avian influenza and to characterize strains, including recombinants.  Any presence of H5 or H7 virus in free-living birds should result in intensification of biosecurity procedures for commercial poultry.  The most important measure would be confinement of free-range chickens, ducks, and geese.