Article Text

International Disease Surveillance
International disease monitoring, January to March 2012
  1. H. Roberts and
  2. M. Lopez
  1. Veterinary and Science Policy Advice Team, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Defra, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

Statistics from

  • African swine fever continues to spread in western Russia

  • Bluetongue virus serotype 8 risk declines in Europe as more countries declare freedom

  • Foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks represent new incursions in Egypt and Libya

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in wild bird die-offs and poultry outbreaks in Asia

  • Emergence of Schmallenberg virus in ruminants in northern Europe

These are among matters discussed in the international disease monitoring report for January to March 2012, prepared by Defra's Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency

African swine fever


South Africa has reported 18 outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in the Mpumulanga and Gauteng regions. South Africa has an ASF control zone in place covering Limpopo and parts of Mpumalanga and the north-west regions. The movement of pigs, warthogs and their products from the zone is controlled by permits and, within the zone, pig farming is allowed only if the farms are surrounded by double game fences. The outbreaks were all reported on backyard pig farms outside the control zone and were all connected to a single property. All infected pigs were euthanased.


Outbreaks of ASF in wild boar and domestic pigs were reported across several regions in Sardinia in what appears to have been a breakdown of disease control measures. The authorities have been carrying out checks for on-farm biosecurity to prevent contact between wild boar and domestic pigs, which was the likely cause of the disease outbreaks. During the quarter, there were 24 outbreaks of ASF in domestic pigs and 13 cases in wild boar.

In the run-up to the Olympic Games, Defra's International Disease Monitoring team is producing a monthly bulletin on equine diseases in the EU and North America. The aim is to ensure that all interested parties are kept informed of any import issues associated with the games. See for further information.

Russia reported one case of ASF in a wild boar in each of the Astrakhan and Krasnodar regions. In the Krasnodar region, the case was on an air force base. There were two cases in the Volgograd region. Three outbreaks of ASF in pigs in the Krasnodar region and one in the Stavropol region led to the culling of nearly 42,500 animals. Outbreaks in backyard pigs were also reported in Volgograd in the south and the Karelia region in the far north near the border with Finland, representing another large jump from the Caucasus region, where the disease appears to be firmly entrenched.

This article summarises official information on outbreaks of specified animal diseases and other diseases that may be of interest. Defra's Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) monitors outbreaks of animal disease in countries that trade with the UK and EU member states. It also notes new epidemiological developments, which may give an early warning of emerging threats to the UK. Where a new disease outbreak could pose a threat, the AHVLA carries out assessments of the risks to UK livestock. These are publicly available on Defra's website ( The EU and the UK take appropriate safeguard measures to mitigate the potential risks of disease being introduced through legal trade. Defra notes that it is also important to recognise the continuing threat to the EU and the UK through illegal imports from countries with endemic disease and other routes; for example, highly pathogenic avian influenza or Newcastle disease from migrating birds. The map in this report was prepared from official reports received during the period; it does not necessarily reflect the true situation in every country and should not be regarded as definitive. The map was produced using ESRI Data and Maps CD (2002). Unless otherwise stated, disease control measures have been put in place by the affected country or region.

Information sources


Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland have all declared freedom from bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) and their restriction zones have been lifted, allowing free movement of livestock and zoo ruminants between these countries and the UK. However, outbreaks of other bluetongue serotypes are still occurring in other parts of Europe and neighbouring countries. The threat of disease introduction should not be ignored.


BTV-1 is now considered endemic across Tunisia and Morocco. Vaccination will be applied to control the disease in both countries.

BTV-2 and BTV-9

Italy reported two outbreaks of BTV-2 and BTV-9 in cattle in the Enna region of Sicily.


In Greece, there have been three outbreaks of BTV-4 in the Dodecanese islands, which are close to the Turkish coast. Previous outbreaks in the area were associated with BTV-16. Disease control measures are in place, but not vaccination. Cyprus has announced that outbreaks of BTV-4 have now been resolved. Vaccination was not involved in disease control.

Morocco declared that BTV-4 is now considered endemic. Vaccination will be applied to control the disease.

Classical swine fever

The classical swine fever (CSF) situation has improved considerably in the EU over the past few years due to concerted efforts to vaccinate wild boar and to implement biosecurity controls for domestic pigs. Nevertheless, the disease remains present along the borders with the EU.

In Russia, the authorities have reported one case of CSF in wild boar in each of the Smolensk, Bryanskaya and Vladimir regions.

Equine infectious anaemia

Outbreaks of equine infectious anaemia (EIA) continue to be reported from eastern Europe and Italy. Some were detected as part of national surveillance programmes.


Italy reported nine outbreaks of EIA in various regions. Culling of horses to control the disease has not taken place.

In Hungary, the authorities reported two outbreaks in the Bacs Kiskun region on the border with Romania.

In Romania, there were no reports of EIA in the first two months of the quarter but, in March, there was a considerable increase in reporting as the results of the national surveillance programme were made public. Over 600 outbreaks had been reported by the end of March, but it would appear that the horses are not being culled.

France reported a case of EIA in the Vaucluse region. Of eight horses on one holding, four tested positive for EIA and were slaughtered. The other four tested negative and are awaiting a final test under movement restrictions. An investigation is under way to look for contacts and a possible source of infection.

Foot-and-mouth disease

There have been concerning numbers of new incursions of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) into northern Africa and the Middle East (Fig 1). They are probably a result of several factors: the drought in sub-Saharan Africa leading to movements of animals, particularly for slaughter, as water shortages impact on raising livestock; the political instability in the region causing a breakdown in biosecurity controls; and the high meat price in some countries affecting the market.

FIG 1:

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks by serotype in northern Africa in 2011/12

Middle East and northern Africa

Outbreaks continue to be reported across the Asian side of Turkey. During the quarter, 184 outbreaks were reported, most of which were FMD Asia 1, although FMD O and FMD A continue to be reported as well. This represents a distinct change in the proportion of FMD Asia 1 outbreaks in comparison with the other serotypes, in line with this being a new epizootic.

Libya reported 23 outbreaks of FMD O and FMD A in cattle and sheep from the north and north-east coasts of the country. Vaccination, rather than culling, is being used to control the outbreaks. Given the recent political problems, it is encouraging to see the disease being reported. Samples have been sent to the World Reference Laboratory for further genotyping. According to the report, the origin of infection has been attributed to animals bought at a local market coming from the west of the country. Libya also reported an outbreak of FMD SAT-2 in the Benghazi region, in which five of 46 cattle died suddenly of acute respiratory stress. This is a new serotype in the area. The other cattle in the group, of which a further six were infected, were not culled and vaccination was not included among possible future control measures.

Egypt reported 25 outbreaks of FMD SAT-2 in various regions in cattle, buffaloes and sheep. As in Libya, this is a new serotype for the region, and it is thought to have been introduced via illegal animal movements from Ethiopia and Sudan.

Israel reported an outbreak of FMD O in the Hadarom region in sheep owned by a Bedouin family. Vaccination is being applied.


China reported an outbreak of FMD O in pigs in the Hubei region and in cattle in the Nigxia region. The animals have been culled. Disease control measures are in place, but vaccination is prohibited.

Five outbreaks of FMD O have been reported in Taiwan in pigs tested during routine surveillance. No clinical disease or live virus was detected.

Russia reported two outbreaks of FMD O in cattle, sheep and goats in Primorskiy Kray, near the border with China. They were both on backyard holdings in the buffer zone where biannual vaccination against FMD is used. Genetic analysis has shown that the serotype is related to other outbreaks in China and eastern Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan reported three more outbreaks of FMD O in sheep and cattle in the east of the country and five outbreaks in the Alma-Atar and Dzhambul regions. Over 1000 animals were culled. Additionally, the authorities reported two outbreaks of FMD A in cattle and sheep in the Dzhambul region. Vaccination against serotypes O, A and Asia 1 will be implemented.


Namibia reported two more outbreaks of FMD SAT-1 in Caprivi in cattle. There are no controls on animal movement, so contact with wild buffaloes is possible. The source of infection was reported as illegal movement of animals.

South Africa reported an outbreak of FMD SAT-2 in cattle at a dip tank in Mpumalanga near the Kruger Park. The area is within the FMD surveillance zone of the control area, where vaccination is compulsory. Neither of the outbreaks has affected the export status of the country.

South America

Paraguay reported a second outbreak of FMD O following an announcement during the previous quarter that the first outbreak had been resolved (VR, February 11, 2012, vol 170, p 148). The new case was just 15 km from the previous one and is believed to have been epidemiologically linked. Illegally introduced cattle were understood to be the source of infection. Clinical signs were seen in 15 of 131 cattle and all 131 were culled. Pigs present on the farm were also culled. There was no tenant at the farm, so disease may have been present for some time. Epidemiological surveillance was carried out twice on nearly 700 further holdings. Nearly 8000 cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were inspected. No further outbreaks were reported after cleansing and disinfection points for vehicles were put in place and vaccination was applied.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1

India, Nepal and Hong Kong all reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in wild birds. Other countries in south-east Asia continue to report disease in the poultry sector. South Africa reported a further outbreak in ostriches and, in a repeat of what appears to be a regular seasonal incursion, Israel reported outbreaks in poultry.


Wild birds

Hong Kong reported 17 cases of HPAI H5N1 in wild birds across various regions. In particular, black-headed gulls (Choicocephalus ridibundus), little egrets (Egretta garzetta), peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus calidus), oriental robins (Copsychus saularis) and grey herons (Ardea cinerea) were affected. Hong Kong has strict control measures in place for poultry markets and farms to prevent spill-over into the livestock population.

In India, further outbreaks were reported in Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa – all in crows (Corvus macrorhynchus). In Jharkhand, there was mass mortality of over 1000 crows. Similarly, in Nepal, an outbreak of HPAI H5N1 was reported in wild crows in Bagmati.

In India and Nepal, the circulating virus is H5N1 The significance of the large numbers of corvids dying from it is not known.

Domestic poultry

Bangladesh reported three more outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 in commercial poultry farms in the regions of Dhaka and Khulna. Over 40,000 birds were destroyed and disease control measures (not vaccination) are in place.

Bhutan reported two outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 in backyard poultry in the Chukha region and one in backyard poultry in the Thimpu region. Disease control measures, but not vaccination, are in place.

India reported three outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 on commercial farms in the Orissa region. Approximately 75,000 birds were culled both on farms and within restriction zones. An outbreak in the Meghalaya region (West Bengal) led to the culling of approximately 7500 birds. There were two more outbreaks in Tripura (West Bengal) – one on a commercial premises of nearly 13,000 poultry and the other on a state-owned poultry farm. Vaccination is prohibited in India, but other disease control measures are in place. Samples have been identified as subclade by the OIE Reference Laboratory in Weybridge.

Nepal reported two outbreaks in commercial flocks in Mechi – one in Koshi and one in Bagmati. Again the samples have been identified as subclade by the OIE Reference Laboratory in Weybridge.

In Myanmar, two outbreaks in small commercial layer flocks were reported in the Sagaing region and in the Bago region. Vaccination is prohibited, but other disease control measures are in place.

In Vietnam, where disease is endemic, outbreaks continue to be reported from across the country: in Thanh Hoa (two), Quang Tri (four), Soc Trang (one), Ha Nam (one), Hai Dong (one), Thai Nguyen (one), Kien Gian (one), Hai Phong (three), Bac Giang (one), Ha Tinh (two), Quang Nam (one), Quang Ninh (one), Bac Ninh (two) and Nam Dinh (one). Vaccination is applied as a control measure in Vietnam, but this is not having a significant effect on controlling the disease.

Bangladesh reported 16 outbreaks in commercial poultry farms in various regions. Over 86,000 birds were culled. Vaccination is prohibited in Bangladesh.

Middle East

Israel reported two outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 in turkeys in the Hadarom region. All birds were culled – over 40,000 in total. As a result of the outbreaks in turkeys, an outbreak in cats has been reported after they were seen eating the carcases. Four cats died and 16 further cats were euthanased. The OIE Reference Laboratory has confirmed that the outbreaks were caused by HPAI H5N1 clade 2.2.1.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (other serotypes)


Taiwan reported three outbreaks of HPAI H5N2 in broilers and layers. The disease was first identified at an abattoir and traced back to the breeder farm, where all birds were culled; however, two more outbreaks were then identified as contacts. Over 20,000 birds have been culled.


South Africa reported outbreaks of HPAI H7N1 and H5N2 in commercial ostriches in the Western Cape province. Seropositive birds were detected during routine surveillance for HPAI in the region. A significant number of outbreaks have been reported over the past few months, leading to considerable economic losses.

Low pathogenic avian influenza


Ireland reported an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H5N2 in pheasants consigned from the UK. All birds were culled, including those on a contact premises, which tested negative. The premises in the UK was also visited and investigations concluded there was no evidence of disease. Epidemiological information from the Ireland outbreak, such as serology, PCR results and the disease timeline, suggested the outbreak was related to a recent incursion after the birds had arrived at the premises, probably related to wild birds.


For the first time, Australia reported an outbreak of LPAI H5N3 on a duck breeding and fattening farm in Victoria. All 24,500 birds were culled. Infection was identified during routine surveillance activities. A second farm was identified as a high-risk tracing to the original infected premises and is therefore considered part of the original premises rather than a separate outbreak. Sequence analysis confirmed strong similarity to virus found circulating in Australian wild ducks.


For the first time, Sri Lanka reported an outbreak of LPAI H5N2 in two connected poultry layer farms in Kurunegala. In total, 14,500 birds were culled. Epidemiological investigations are continuing.

Newcastle disease

Middle East

Continuing Newcastle disease (ND) in Israel is causing a big problem for the poultry industry. To date, since these outbreaks began in September 2011, over three million poultry have either been culled as a result of the 77 outbreaks. It seems clear that there is either a problem with the commercial poultry industry or with the strain of ND itself, because the outbreaks are continuing despite a compulsory vaccination programme. In the meantime, although Israel would otherwise be approved for exporting certain treated poultry meat to the EU, because of the current ND and HPAI situation (see above), there are additional measures in place, including regionalisation for exports.


Switzerland reported an outbreak of ND in hobby pigeons in the Aargau region. This was not related to the previous case. The strain is different and does not exhibit the unusual clinical signs of the previously identified strain. Vaccination and other control measures are in place.


Australia reported a further outbreak of ND in turtle doves (Streptopelia chinensis) in Victoria. As they are not considered to be poultry, the outbreak has not affected the disease-free status of Australia with respect to ND.

Peste des petits ruminants

Turkey reported 13 outbreaks of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) during the quarter across several regions.

Algeria reported three outbreaks of PPR in the Ghardaia region. Vaccination is prohibited and disease is controlled through movement restrictions and culling.


The Netherlands reported that an illegally imported puppy from Morocco had tested positive for rabies. The puppy was imported on February 11 and showed clinical signs on February 12. It was eight weeks old (and therefore too young to be vaccinated). In-contact humans and pets have been identified and treated appropriately.

The first case of a cat with rabies was reported in Macedonia. It was euthanased along with two in-contact pets. The owners were treated with postexposure prophylaxis.

Schmallenberg virus

Schmallenberg virus has been reported since January in ruminants from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Cases are still being reported in both cattle and sheep. Some initial vector studies have indicated that the disease is transmitted by biting midges. As it remains a non-notifiable disease, this report will not go into further details. Further information is available at

Sheeppox and goatpox

Kazakhstan reported an outbreak of sheeppox and goatpox (SPGP) in sheep in the Chimkent region. Vaccination is in place. Kyrgyzstan reported two outbreaks of SPGP in sheep in the Jalal-abad region and, again, vaccination is being used to control disease. Turkey reported 11 outbreaks of SPGP across several regions.

Swine vesicular disease

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2012) published a scientific opinion on swine vesicular disease (SVD), which highlights its low impact in terms of negligible mortality, low morbidity and negligible production losses. Spread between farms is mainly due to transport movement and is therefore limited. The most significant impact of the disease is on the ability to trade. There is no public health risk and limited welfare impact.

Vesicular stomatitis

EFSA (2012) published a scientific opinion on vesicular stomatitis, which attempts to estimate the impact of the disease and concludes that this is difficult to do because there is limited information on production losses in cattle. It notes that modelling transmission is similarly problematic because of the lack of data on vector species. In contrast to SVD, the lack of information on the impact of vesicular stomatitis means the potential for deregulation is low.

West Nile fever

Italy reported three further outbreaks of West Nile fever (WNF) in horses in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and one in Sardinia. There have been few reports of WNV across Europe, which is in line with the reduced level of vector transmission expected during the winter months.

Previous report

ROBERTS, H. & LOPEZ, M. (2012) International disease monitoring, October to December 2011. Veterinary Record 170, 146-149

Routine information sources

EUROPEAN COMMISSION – Animal Disease Notification System. Weekly Reports.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION – CVO emergency notifications/SANCO documents




OIE – Disease information.



A list of declarations issued by Defra in relation to international animal disease and customer information notes can be obtained online at, or by contacting the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Defra, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.

Defra has also published a number of preliminary outbreak assessments ( and qualitative risk assessments (

Details of all European Commission legislation are available online at the EUR-Lex website at


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