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Outbreak of H1N1 Flu in Turkeys in Chile

by 5m Editor
24 August 2009, at 1:12p.m.

CHILE - The veterinary authorities have reported two cases of influenza A in turkeys to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). It is has been confirmed to be the H1N1 sub-type.

The Chilean veterinary authority sent an Immediate Notification to OIE dated 21 August.

The report describes two cases of what is described as 'influenza A virus' in turkeys in the state of Valparaiso.

One case, starting on 29 July, is in Nogales. It involved illness in 12,248 breeding turkeys of a flock of almost 30,000. An abnormal decrease in the laying rate was observed but no respiratory signs or increased mortality.

Symptoms were observed on 23 July in another flock of breeding turkeys in Valparaiso. More than 24,000 birds out of another flock of 30,000 birds were affected. Egg production fell from around 70 per cent to 31 per cent, and shell quality deteriorated. Again, no respiratory signs or increased mortality were observed. Necroscopy of the affected birds showed salpingitis, peritonitis and an interruption of the follicular development. No other lesions were observed. Samples of embryonated eggs collected from the incubation building gave negative results with real time PCR. Twenty days after the beginning of the event, a recovery in the laying rate was observed.

The affected farms are turkey breeding premises belonging to the same company, vertically integrated, where appropriate biosecurity measures are applied.

Outbreak 1 was on a farm composed of five breeding premises. The outbreak started in premises no. 1 and through horizontal transmission, it reached three other premises. In outbreak 2, two or five sectors were affected.

Prior to the appearance of clinical signs, some birds were exposed to people showing respiratory symptoms.

The affected premises were systematically monitored through serological testing with negative results until 28 July 2009.

Serotyping allowed the presence of H5 and H7 virus to be excluded and confirmed the detection of A/H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza virus 2009.

Samples were sent to the Public Health Institute of Chile (ISP) at the Ministry of Health. The ISP confirmed the presence of A/H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza virus 2009 using real time PCR. The RT-PCR for seasonal H1 and H3 influenza gave a negative result. Samples will be sent to the OIE Reference Laboratory.

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald identifies the company as Santiago-based Sopraval SA, which has said it was working with authorities to contain the outbreak.

That report adds that Dr Jay Butler of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it was theoretically possible for the viruses to combine. "[That] hasn't been documented but is a concern."