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    GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance

    Partnership quarterly report

    Disease surveillance and emerging threats

    Volume 27: Q4 – October-December 2019

    Highlights

     Garden Wildlife health summary – page 8

     Mass mortality of starlings – page 19

     Cetacean strandings investigation programme – page 21

    Contents

    Introduction and overview .................................................................................................... 2

    Notifiable diseases ............................................................................................................... 2

    Zoonotic Diseases ............................................................................................................... 5

    Ongoing new and re-emerging diseases, unusual diagnoses and horizon scanning ........... 7

    UK Priority and Conservation Concern Species ................................................................ 21

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    Introduction and overview

    The GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership comprising the Animal and Plant Health

    Agency (APHA), SRUC Veterinary Services, Institute of Zoology (IoZ), the Centre for

    Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

    (WWT), Natural England (NE), the Forestry Commission England (FCE) and the Garden

    Wildlife Health (GWH) project produces the GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership

    Quarterly Reports:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wildlife-disease-surveillance-reports-2018.

    A full explanation of how data is analysed is provided in the annexe available on GOV.UK

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-on-data-analysis

    Issues and trends

    This is the final quarter report for the year and summarises to some extent the major

    findings during 2019. In addition, in the Appendices we are adding wildlife submission data

    which will be followed in future WQRs by wildlife diagnostic data from three of our

    Partners, APHA, SRUC and GWH (IoZ). This network surveillance collaboration has been

    a long term aim of the GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership. It is reassuring to see

    it start to come to fruition and we here acknowledge the help we have had from Maggie He

    and Sara Robertson at the APHA Surveillance Intelligence Unit (SIU) – many thanks to

    both. Please bear with us as we work to improve these data. With so much data,

    improvements take time and there will be errors, for which we apologise. However, it is

    great to see that wildlife data from three different organisations (one non-government) can

    be combined and analysed.

    Notifiable diseases

    Avian Influenza (AI) Virus

    Great Britain AI Wild Bird Surveillance (AIWBS): October – December 2019

    Total wild bird surveillance

    During the fourth quarter of 2019 there were 168 dead wild birds tested under the Avian

    Influenza surveillance scheme. One mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) tested positive for

    influenza A in early October; further characterisation revealed that this was not an H5

    subtype. The last finding of highly pathogenic avian influenza was in April 2018, a

    Eurasian buzzard (Buteo buteo) found in Suffolk.

    The threshold criteria for collections and submissions of wild birds found dead for the

    purposes of AI surveillance remains at three or more waterfowl target species –

    specifically wild geese, wild ducks, swans, and gulls found in the same location; and at

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wildlife-disease-surveillance-reports-2018 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-on-data-analysis

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    one or more for birds of prey, and five or more of any species, found in the same location

    (mass mortality event) in England, Scotland and Wales.

    Table 1: Number of wild birds tested and results in GB - 4th Quarter

    Surveillance

    activity

    Number of

    birds tested

    Positive AI virus result

    and species of bird Comments

    Found dead/injured 168 (152) 1 x mallard duck (Anas

    platyrhynchos), Sussex.

    Scanning surveillance

    All-year-round

    *Number of birds tested (figure may be slightly different from other reports due to exact

    query run on dataset). Figures for 4th Quarter of 2018 are shown in brackets Data query

    used for this report-date ‘M gene approval’

    Warden Patrol Scheme

    The main emphasis is on AIWBS in found dead wild birds, including mass mortality

    incidents, and patrols of designated reserves by skilled wild bird ecologists and wardens.

    These Warden Patrols continue all-year-round, but are also seasonally targeted in the

    winter and spring periods (October to March) each year.

    During the period 1st October – 31st December (Q4 2019), a total of 405 Warden Patrols

    were performed at sites across GB. This compares with a total of 522 Warden Patrols

    performed during the same period in 2018 (Q4-2018) in GB. During Q4-2019, the Warden

    Patrols were mainly performed by Natural England and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

    In total during Q4-2019, 60 wild birds found dead were tested, with no HPAI detections.

    This compares with a total of 71 wild birds found dead and tested during the same period

    of 2018.

    In Q4-2019, Whooper Swans were the most common target species found and birds were

    most commonly found in the South West region, with none submitted from the Midlands.

    Whooper Swans were also the most common target species found in Q4-2018, but birds

    from that period were most commonly found in the East region, with none submitted from

    the Midlands.

    Current EU situation

    On 31st December 2019, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 was reported on

    a turkey farm in the region of Lubartowski, Poland. Since then, further countries have

    reported this newly-emerged HPAI in farmed poultry (chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks),

    and also a scant number of wild birds; and the epidemiological assessment indicates that

    the source of infection is due to wild bird contact. The risk to the UK is currently deemed

    LOW; however, the situation is such that the risk is proactively reviewed weekly, and also

    reactively upon receipt of new information.

    APHA, in collaboration with Defra, monitors the international situation and distribution of

    avian influenza detections:

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    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/animal-diseases-international-monitoring.

    Current UK Situation

    There were no outbreaks of HPAI in commercial or captive poultry or wild birds in the UK

    in 2019. However, there were two incidents of LPAI in poultry in Q4 of 2019. The first was

    a finding of LPAI H6N5 in two poultry holdings in the north of England, in November 2019.

    The second case was LPAI H5N3 in a poultry holding in the east of England. Both

    incidents were quickly and effectively contained. In both incidents the likely source was via

    wild birds, as genomic sequencing revealed that both viruses were of Eurasian wild bird

    ancestry.

    In wild birds, the last HPAI reported was H5N6 in a buzzard found in April 2018. In poultry,

    the last HPAI reported was H5N8 in 2017. The OIE/FAO international reference laboratory

    and the UK national reference laboratory at Weybridge have the necessary ongoing

    diagnostic capability to investigated and report on both LPAI and HPAI virus strains in wild

    birds and commercial poultry.

    In England – call the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. The Helpline is open

    Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm and there is an out of hour’s facility on the same number

    for reporting suspicion of disease in animals.

    In Scotland and Wales, contact your local APHA Field Services Office:

    www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency/about/access-and-opening

    Further information regarding avian influenza in poultry and wild birds is also available:

    Avian influenza guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.

    When and how to register your poultry flock, and which species must be registered in Great

    Britain: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/poultry-registration.

    Information about the chargeable testing scheme offered in GB by APHA that enables

    veterinarians to request ‘Testing for Exclusion of notifiable avian disease’ in chicken and

    turkey flocks, in circumstances that would not require the implementation of statutory

    disease control measures (Gibbens and others, 2014):

    Avian influenza and Newcastle disease/PPMV-1 events, including H5 HPAI internationally,

    are also summarised in GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership quarterly reports.

    References

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu-in-europe

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wildlife-disease-surveillance-reports-2018

    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/animal-diseases-international-monitoring http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency/about/access-and-open