First bird flu outbreak reported in Gabon

The outbreak has affected over 60 countries, resulting in large number of the poultry population being culled.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has reported the first outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAIv), commonly known as bird flu in Gabon. According to a Paris-based body, quoting information from the Gabonese health authorities that the case was detected in the northern part of the country in the town of Ntoum, which is near the border of Equatorial Guinea where 15,000 birds from a flock of 15,500 were killed. "Many questions and no answers yet after the occurrence of avian influenza virus in Gabon. The disease that affects poultry had been absent in the country so far. Investigations are underway to identify the origin of the infection," the report stated. The bird flu virus has spread in more than 60 countries across Africa, Europe, Asia and America.

Deaths in the live animal market and in poultry were reported in other regions. Michelle Wille and Ian Barr, authors of Resurgence of Avian Influenza Virus noted, “The ongoing 2021-2022 wave of avian influenza H5N1 is unprecedented in its rapid spread and extremely high frequency of outbreaks in poultry and wild birds, and is a continuing potential threat to humans.” The virus can be deadly to poultry and has resulted in mass mortality threatening the bird population, in 2020 and 2021, roughly 15 million birds were culled or died. Earlier this year the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) issues an alert regarding the increasing number of HPAIv infections detected across Africa. This year alone, outbreaks have been reported in South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana.