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India Reports H5N1 HPAI

03/16/2023

According to a March 14th posting on ProMED Mail, the Government of India reported an outbreak of H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza on a state poultry farm in Jharkhand.  It is considered interesting that the although the outbreak commenced on February 2nd, it was confirmed only two weeks later on February 17th  and was reported to the WOAH on March 9th.

 

Previous cases of HPAI in commercial flocks caused by H5N1 and H5N2 were reported India during 2021 and 2022. Extensive losses in migratory cranes and in domestic wild birds were reported in 2022.

The outbreak may have implications for export of shell eggs to the Middle East but should not affect shipments of pasteurized egg products and dried eggs that would be free of virus following heat treatment. 

 

The presence of H5N1 in commercial poultry in India is generally underreported, being deliberately or unintentionally misdiagnosed as Newcastle disease.  Given the high level of vaccination against Newcastle disease applied to commercial flocks, any significant elevation in mortality accompanied by cessation of egg production should be regarded as HPAI unless appropriate laboratory diagnostic procedures, including PCR, eliminate this most probable diagnosis.