Avian Influenza H3 Update
· H3 is a low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) detected in Belgium at the start of January 2019
· The virus has adapted to chickens from native wild birds
· Research shows preference to laying organs, explaining why laying and breeding hens are mainly affected
· The virus is transmitted through contact with contaminated materials and between animals
· The H3 virus is completely harmless to humans and the food chain
· Not notifiable
71 outbreaks, 6 confirmed as H3N1, most in West Flanders, a few in East Flanders, one in each of Liege, Luxemburg and two in Antwerp.
Symptoms are depression, pale eggs, rapid decrease in egg production, decrease in food and water consumption and high mortality rate.
Three outbreaks confirmed in Nord Departément since 22nd May, the first two showing links to Belgium.
All three show links to the same hatchery.
The second and third outbreaks are with 3km and 10km of the first respectively.
Currently, the spread of the virus appears to be due to poor biosecurity. There is a possibility of aerosol spread which would depend on the virus being present in the birds airways or aerolisation of body fluids/faeces if the virus is in the digestive tract.
Therefore, the main risk pathway for entry into the UK is through trade of hatching eggs, day old chicks and poultry as there are no requirements on LPAI.
There has been one trade from Belgium to a producer in the UK who is aware of the situation and taking the necessary precautions. Since 1st April, there has been no consignments of poultry from the Nord Departément, France.
The risk to the UK is considered to be very low. The situation will be kept under review.