Cases of H5N1 avian influenza have been confirmed in Israel and in the West Bank prompting a mass cull of birds with Israeli and Palestinian officials implementing strict measures to curb the spread.
So far, some 15,000 birds have died from the H5N1 avian flu at the Aviel turkey-fattening farm near Hadera, Israel and an additional 4,000 have showed clinical signs at a Palestinian coop near Jenin, Israeli and Palestinian authorities reported. Israel's Agriculture Ministry said it has begun culling some 100,000 birds at coops in the Aviel area and will continue monitoring poultry within 10 kilometres of that spot.
Tests revealed an infected bird in the agricultural community over the weekend and the ministry immediately made the decision to kill the entire stock, a move it said was in line with standard procedures in Western countries.
The turkey fattening farm contains 13 pens with a total of 55,000 males and 25,000 females aged 16-17 weeks and the mortality was observed in five of the pens, whilst the mortality was very high and hyper acute in three of them, a report submitted to the OIE confirms.
On post mortem examination, enteritis and enlarged spleen were demonstrated. In addition, 350 meters away from the infected farm there is a poultry farm of 61,000 5-week-old turkeys but no clinical signs have been seen in poultry at this farm. No other commercial flocks are located within the radius of 3 kilometres.
In addition test samples collected from the turkey coop near the West Bank city of Jenin Bank were sent to Israel where Agriculture Ministry officials confirmed the presence of H5N1.
Israeli officials, working closely with their counterparts in the Palestinian Authority instructed them in how to deal with the case, which required destroying all of the 5,000 birds in the coop as well as treating others located within a three-kilometre radius.
Aviel is about 30 kilometres from Jenin and security at crossing points between the West Bank and Israel has now been tightened to prevent any potentially infected bird stock from entering Israel.
H5N1 cases first appeared in Israeli poultry in March 2006. Since then, all the outbreaks that impacted commercial flocks also occurred in the month of March – 2011 and 2012 – aside from one incident in January 2010, 8 kilometers from the current case.