Influenza A virus subtype H5N8

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Influenza A virus subtype H5N8
Virus classification e
(unranked): Virus
Realm: Riboviria
Phylum: Negarnaviricota
Class: Insthoviricetes
Order: Articulavirales
Family: Orthomyxoviridae
Genus: Alphainfluenzavirus
Species: Influenza A virus
Serotype: Influenza A virus subtype H5N8

H5N8 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus (sometimes called bird flu virus). Although H5N8 is considered one of the less pathogenic subtypes for humans, it is beginning to become more pathogenic. H5N8 has previously been used in place of the highly pathogenic H1N1 in studies.[1]


For the most part, symptoms of the H5N8 virus are respiratory. The common symptoms are "flu-like": fever, chills, headache, coughing, and weakness. Conjunctivitis reportedly has been associated with the virus, as well. When farmed poultry are confirmed as having the virus, the farm will cull the birds. This way, the virus will hopefully not be passed along to the public. However, neighboring farms and area wildlife must be tested, also.



Perhaps the most known outbreak of H5N8 occurred in Ireland in 1983. Poultry on two farms showed the usual symptoms, plus diarrhea, nervousness, and depression. Poultry farms within close proximity soon began to show signs of infection, as well, but no contact between the farms could be established. In the end, 8,000 turkeys, 28,020 chickens, and 270,000 ducks were culled. When investigated in the lab, clinical findings demonstrated that turkeys were the most susceptible to infection. The virus could not be clinically reproduced in ducks.[2]


In the second half of 2016 H5N8 outbreak was first reported in Europe, spreading to Asia by the end of the year.

October 2016[edit]

On 27 October 2016, a H5N8 case was first reported in a wild swan in Hungary. Further reports were subsequently made from seven additional European countries. There were outbreaks in poultry and wild birds in Austria, Hungary and Germany. There were reports of infection in wild birds only in Croatia, Denmark, Poland and Switzerland.

November 2016[edit]

In the Netherlands, H5N8 was found in wild birds and birds in a zoo and on 26 November, 190,000 ducks were destroyed at six farms. Outbreaks have also been reported in India, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan and Russia.[3]

December 2016[edit]

On 16 December 2016, it was confirmed that there was an outbreak of the H5N8 virus at a farm near Tetney, Louth — the first outbreak in the United Kingdom. This outbreak has caused the combined death and culling of 5,000 turkey birds. At the time of writing (16 December 2016), a 3 km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone were enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[4]

In the second week of December official delegations from Japan, South Korea and China gathered in Beijing for a symposium on preventing and controlling bird flu and other diseases in East Asia, according to the website of China's ministry of agriculture.[5]

By the end of December the outbreak had spread to South Korea, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Thousands of birds and animals were being culled in Germany to stop the spread.[6] In the United Kingdom the flu was found in a wild duck at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire.[7]

In South Korea, a total of record 18.4 million birds had been killed by December since the first outbreak of avian flu was reported at a farm on Nov. 18.[8]

Japan has reported five outbreaks since the end of November with 800,000 chickens having been culled in one month.[9]

January 2017[edit]

In early January 2017, France culled about 800,000 birds to prevent the spread of H5N8.[10] In Nigeria, it was reported that the virus affected 3.5 million birds.[11] The virus was also detected in Spain and Slovenia.[12]

KAMPALA Jan 15 (Reuters)[13] - Uganda's ministry for agriculture said on Sunday it had detected bird flu in two locations, one affecting wild birds and another hitting domestic birds

February 2017[edit]

Two cases of the virus have been detected in Northern Ireland amongst wild geese. As a response, the Department of Agriculture has extended restrictions on poultry flocks until at least 16 March.[14]

June 2017[edit]

A case of the virus was detected in Harare, Zimbabwe at one of the major poultry producers, Irvine's Private Limited. The virus saw over 7,000 birds succumbing to the virus. As a result, the company, culled over 140,000 birds to prevent the spread of the virus.[15] Even though a ban on all avian products from Zimbabwe was issued, on 22 June an outbreak[16][17] was reported at a commercial broiler poultry farm outside Villiers, South Africa after 5,000 chickens died. A few days later, just over 60 km away from the first outbreak, a separate outbreak was reported in Standerton, Mpumalanga,[18] where over 25,000 birds were culled to prevent the virus spreading. The South African Poultry Association reported that wild ducks migrating from Europe are spreading the virus.[19]

December 2017[edit]

On 20 December 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) in Saudi Arabia announces the detection of the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus among birds at a poultry market in Riyadh. A few days later, the virus was detected in other farms in other cities including Al-Ahsa, Al-Kharj, Al-Quaiyat, Dharma, and Mazahmiya. This outbreak in the country has led cull more than 100,000 birds at 12 locations across the country to prevent the spread of the virus.[20]


  1. ^ "RCI Inactivation of Avian Influenza" (PDF).
  2. ^ Swain, David (25 March 2008). Avian Influenza. ISBN 9780813820477.
  3. ^ "Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) in Europe" (PDF). European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 18 November 2016.
  4. ^ "5,000 turkeys will die after bird flu outbreak confirmed at farm". Lincolnshire Live. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Chinese farmers bolster bird flu defenses as Asia outbreaks, and jitters, spread". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  6. ^ (, Deutsche Welle (26 December 2016). "H5N8 bird flu strain discovered in farms in Cloppenburg in Germany's Lower Saxony". DW.COM. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Bird flu alert as duck in Llanelli found to be infected". BBC News. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  8. ^ "South Korea, Japan step up poultry cull to contain bird flu". Fox News. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  9. ^ "South Korea, Japan step up poultry cull to contain bird flu". Fox News. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  10. ^ "French authorities gas thousands of ducks after bird flu outbreaks". The Guardian. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  11. ^ Abuja, Joke (11 January 2017). "New bird flu strain hits poultry industry, 3.5m birds infected". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  12. ^ Schnirring, Lisa. "H5N8 detected in Spain, Slovenia for first time". CIDRAP. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  13. ^ "RPT-Uganda detects bird flu in wild, domestic birds | News by Country | Reuters". Reuters. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Second case of bird flu confirmed in Northern Ireland". BBC News. 10 February 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Irvines culls 140 000 birds after avian flu outbreak | The Financial Gazette". 6 June 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  16. ^ Reuters (23 June 2017). "H5N8 bird flu outbreak reported on Free State farm". Eyewitness News. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  17. ^ Motsoeneng, Tiisetso (23 June 2017). "SA reports outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, industry body says". Moneyweb. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  18. ^ Groenewald, Yolandi (27 June 2017). "Bird flu outbreak poses new threat to SA poultry industry". Fin24. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  19. ^ Jadoo, Yadhana (26 June 2017). "Migrating ducks spreading bird flu in SA". The Citizen. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  20. ^ "بيان حول ظهور إنفلونزا الطيور (H5N8) في مدينة الرياض" (in Arabic). Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture. Retrieved 10 June 2018.

Further reading[edit]