AVIAN INFLUENZA (06): GERMANY (LOWER SAXONY), POLAND, LOW PATHOGENIC
NOTIFIABLE AVIAN INFLUENZA H5N3
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 16 Jan 2009
Source: DEFRA International Animal Health (IAH), Preliminary Outbreak
Assessment, Ref: VITT 1200/LPAI - Germany & Poland [edited]
Update: low pathogenic avian influenza in Germany and Poland: H5N3
1. Disease report
Following the outbreaks reported from Lower Saxony, Germany of LPAI H5N3 in
turkey farms, there have been further developments. (For previous report,
The total number of outbreaks detected in Lower Saxony is now 30. The
latest was confirmed on 14 Jan 2009. To date [16 Jan 2009], around 475 000
turkeys have been culled. All outbreaks except one have occurred on turkey
farms. The other outbreak was on a mixed holding where turkeys were also
kept, and geese and ducks were affected as well.
Germany reported to SCoFCAH [EU's Standing Committee on Food Chain and
Animal Health] on 9 Jan 2009 that the majority of infected premises are
within the administrative areas of Garrel and Bosel in Lower Saxony
(European Commission, 2009). There are 3 more infected premises in 2 other
neighbouring administrative areas, Saterland and Friesoythe.
The new outbreak on 12 Jan 2009 is on the outskirts of the Bosel/Garrel
restriction zone and will lead to a small expansion of the zone. The new
outbreak on 14 Jan 2009 is in Freisoythe-Ikenbrugge, and again will lead to
an expansion of the restriction zone. On 29 Dec 2009, Poland reported
suspicion of disease in turkeys on a poultry farm in Goleniowski region.
Samples were taken from 10 dead turkeys, and initial laboratory tests were
weakly positive, although subsequent samples from other birds on the
holding were negative. Nevertheless, Poland put disease control measures in
place, and the birds (nearly 20 000) were culled on 4 Jan 2009.
2. Situation assessment
Poland imposed strict disease controls on the premises, despite samples
only giving a very weak signal for presence of LPAI. They did so on the
basis of epidemiological evidence of trace-back to a hatchery in Germany,
in the affected region (European Commission 2009a). There is no evidence
that the hatchery involved was one of the infected premises, but Germany
will carry out further investigations. The actions of Poland are
understandable given the situation in Germany, and they were praised by the
Commission at the latest SCoFCAH meeting. Poland has since declared itself
free of LPAI.
The strain involved in the outbreaks in Germany is causing very few or no
clinical signs, but it does appear to spread quickly. Surveillance
programmes are designed to detect a threshold level of usually between 5
and 10 per cent prevalence. It is therefore not unexpected that some cases
may be detected after initial surveillance, when the disease has reached a
higher level. The epidemiological pattern of these outbreaks appears to
suggest silent spread of a subclinical infection, which is why it has taken
some time before some outbreaks were detected.
According to TRACES ["Trade Control and Expert System;" a single central
database to track the movement of animals and certain types of products
both within the EU and from outside the EU, which replaced ANIMO in April
2004. - Mod.AS], the EU electronic trade notification system, there have
been 3 consignments of live poultry from Germany to the UK since our
previous risk assessment. All were chickens, and 2 of these were from Lower
Saxony, but at least 80 km from the outbreaks. Even so, because the
outbreaks have been confined to turkeys, movement restrictions on chickens
and other poultry were lifted in December 2008 and movement allowed
according to case-by-case risk assessment. Restrictions remain in place for
movements of turkeys. There have been no consignments of poultry from Poland.
At this stage, we consider that this incident in Germany does not change
the continuous ongoing low risk of LPAI (and similarly HPAI) being detected
over a wider geographic area of the EU, including the UK. So far, there is
no indication that the strain has the potential to mutate to a HPAI strain.
This event emphasizes the importance of implementing and maintaining
appropriate biosecurity measures at all times.
We continue to monitor and review the situation.
European Commission (2009) Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Germany -
current situation [Germany's presentation of 8 Jan 2009].
accessed 15 Jan 2009.
European Commission (2009a) LPAI case in Poland details. [Poland's
presentation of 8 Jan 2009]
accessed 15 Jan 2009.
[According to a press release of the Cloppenburg district dated 16 Jan
2009, an additional disease focus has been identified in Bosel and all 16
000 birds culled on the same date; see (in German) at
We are informed by the communicator Sabine Zentis that the total number of
birds culled since the start of this outbreak in mid December 2008 is
almost 600 000. Germany's most recent follow-up report on this outbreak was
submitted to the OIE on 2 Jan 2009; see, including map, at
No report from Poland on the suspected case has been submitted.
It will be interesting to note whether vaccination, replacing culling, has
been considered. - Mod.AS]