There have been new reports of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in Niger and Nigeria in West Africa. Two different virus variants have been identified as the cause of the latest outbreaks in poultry farms in South Africa.
In the first week of January, H5N1 virus was detected on a farm in Johannesburg, leading to the death of all 1,226 poultry at the farm. This is part of the current disease wave that began in March 2021 and brings the number of HPAI cases in South Africa to 94, with over 4.96 million domestic birds affected.
The H5N2 virus serotype was also detected in South Africa for the first time in over 11 years.
Two outbreaks have been reported, the first affecting a flock of 37,400 poultry in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, with just over 200 of the birds dying and the rest being culled. In December 2022, H5N1 was also found in wild birds in Merafong City in Gauteng province. Over 22,000 cases of HPAI have been officially registered among the wild population, with more than 20,000 deaths, mostly among Cape cormorants.
In Nigeria, the number of HPAI outbreaks in poultry has risen to 316 since the current wave started in December 2020, affecting over 2.3 million birds, including over 1.8 million culled. The government plans to compensate owners for losses with 484 billion naira.
In Niger, there were three HPAI outbreaks near the capital city, Niamey, affecting around 19,000 birds in 2021 and 2022, but the virus was detected again in December 2022 in the Tillaberi region. The source of the infection is unknown.
The regional governor of Maradi has ordered a suspension of poultry transport and destruction of infected birds and disinfection of premises after H5N1 was detected in native chickens and guinea fowl. HPAI cases have also been reported in the Tahoua region by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.