On his blog Avian Flu Diary, Mike Coston writes: Bird Flu Reports From India, Japan, Korea & Taiwan. This is the kind of post that makes him one of the best in Flublogia: informative and documented, putting his subject in perspective. Excerpt:
Between 2004 and 2007 the H5N1 avian flu virus expanded its range, going from basically being a problem for a handful of Southeast Asian countries, to being a problem for much of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. We saw huge wild bird die offs in China, Indonesia, and Eastern Europe, along with thousands of poultry infestations and culling operations.
Along the way, several hundred humans were infected as well.
In 2008, H5N1’s expansion seemed to halt, and in many places the virus actually receded, leaving behind about a dozen places around the world where the virus remained entrenched. Among them were Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China.
Even in these countries, the number of outbreaks reported – and the number of human infections – dropped markedly, with the peak reached in 2006 (n=115) and steadily dropping since then (2013= 39 cases). The foci of infections also shifted away from Vietnam and Indonesia towards Egypt and Cambodia.
While never quite going away, it seemed as if the avian flu threat was simply fading away.
That is, until a new avian flu virus – H7N9 – appeared abruptly in China in the spring of 2013 sparking two consecutive winter epidemics, and is expected to return again this winter as well. In quick succession, several more avian flu viruses appeared – including H5N8 in Korea (now spread to Europe & Japan), H5N6 in China and Vietnam, H5N3 in China, and H10N8 in China.
Now, instead of one avian flu threat, we have anywhere from three to six to keep track of (H5N1, H7N9, H5N8, H5N6, H5N3, H10N8), and no one should be terribly surprised if several more novel reassortants emerge over the next couple of years.