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J Wildl Dis. 2019 Sep 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Avian Influenza H5N8 Outbreak in African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus), Namibia, 2019.

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Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Namibia, Neudamm Campus, Private Bag 13301, Windhoek, Namibia.
Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL), 24 Goethe Street, Private Bag 18137, Windhoek, Namibia.
Ecosystem Section, Lüderitz Marine Research, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, PO Box 394, Lüderitz, Namibia.
African Penguin Conservation Project, PO Box 583, Lüderitz, Namibia.
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Teramo, Loc. Piano d'Accio S.P. 18, 64100, Teramo, Italy.
Animal Production and Health Laboratory, Animal Production and Health Section, Joint FAO/IAEA Division, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, International Atomic Energy Agency, PO Box 100, 1400 Vienna, Austria.


In January 2019, high mortalities were reported among African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) in a breeding colony on Halifax Island, Namibia, Africa. Analysis of samples by reverse transcription quantitative PCR indicated the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) subtype H5N8. Sequence analysis of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes confirmed the presence of the virus in the birds and its high similarity to HPAI subtype H5N8 identified in South Africa in 2017. There have been no previous reports of HPAI H5N8 in Namibia.


H5N8; Highly pathogenic avian influenza; Namibia; outbreak; penguins


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