Low-pathogenic AI strikes Russian Far East

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

As many as 239,000 chickens will be culled at a Russian poultry farm
As many as 239,000 chickens will be culled at a Russian poultry farm
Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor is to cull 239,000 chickens at the Nadezhdinskaya Ptitsa poultry farm in Primorsky Krai, in Russia’s Far East region, following an outbreak of low-pathogenic avian influenza (AI) H9N2.

Preliminary samples taken from dead poultry at the farm showed the presence of the H7N2 subtype, potentially dangerous to humans, said Marina Polyakova, deputy director of the regional department of Russian sanitary service Rospotrebnadzor. However, although the studies that followed revealed it was the H9N2 strain that caused the outbreak, local healthcare agencies had been monitoring the health status of the local population on a daily basis.

The virus is believed to have originated from a similar strain that caused outbreaks of the disease in China and Japan. The preliminary investigation also showed that the chickens at Nadezhdinskaya Ptitsa might have been infected by contact with wild birds carrying the disease.

Valentin Dubinin, deputy governor of Primorsky Krai, emphasised that AI at the poultry farm was identified in sufficient time to avoid infected products hitting the market. He also ordered a ban on all products from the farm –  “not even the slightest piece of animal feed​” – to be moved outside the quarantine zone, in order to keep the infection sealed. Nevertheless, local consumers have reportedly stopped buying chicken.

Shortage concerns

Among other companies, Nadezhdinskaya Ptitsa supplies hatching eggs to its parent company – Far Eastern Poultry – the biggest poultry meat producer in the region. As a result, Far Eastern Poultry has had to stop releasing poultry to the market on a temporary basis. Laboratory studies have identified no signs of the virus at the company’s other farms. However, the anti-AI drive could cause some shortage of poultry meat on local grocery shelves.

Several local news outlets have reported that, with no chicken coming from Far Eastern Poultry, there has been a lack of poultry in regional supermarkets.

However, local authorities have countered that there has been no shortage of poultry products in Primorsky Krai and that no price fluctuations have been seen so far. Alexey Taran, deputy director of the agriculture department in the regional Primorsky Krai government, revealed that several major Russian poultry manufacturers from the European area of Russia have been supplying their products to the local market and, as such, no shortage was anticipated, even given the temporary problems faced by local poultry producers.

Far Eastern Poultry has nearly 1.7 million broilers in its facilities and it is not yet clear how the outbreak at Nadezhdinskaya Ptitsa will affect its operation. At press time, the company had not provided any comment in response to a request from GlobalMeatNews​.

Related topics: Safety & Legislation, Russia

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