Avian viral diseases represent a major hurdle to sustainability across the poultry industry in Central Asia. Avian influenza (AI) and Newcastle disease (ND) viruses are endemic across Central Asia and represent a significant burden to sustainable food security across the region within the poultry industry. The AI and ND subnetwork is a disease-specific subnetwork within the Central Asia Animal Health Network (CAAHN) established in November 2019 and includes the FAO Office for Europe and Central Asia (FAO REU), the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for Central Asia OIE, the national authorities of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The regional animal health networks offer a framework for building strong technical capacity, competency, leadership, and a critical mass of regionally networked specialists, allowing countries to facilitate information exchange and experience; standardize procedures; harmonize policies; identify gaps, weaknesses, and priorities; and fill these gaps, the OIE Sub-Regional Representation in Nur-Sultan organized within this network, online training on AI and ND on January 29th, 2021.
The aim of the meeting was to establish a network of scientists across the region, sharing experiences and detailing on the local situation regarding avian viral diseases, with the longer-term aim to improve the diagnostic capacity and capability for these diseases across each partner. The CAAHN along with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, United Kingdom) as the International Reference Laboratory for avian influenza, swine influenza, and Newcastle Disease virus in the United Kingdom. The APHA is currently undertaking an OIE laboratory twinning project with the Kazakh Scientific-Research Veterinary Institute, Almaty, Kazakhstan.
This project, and existing linkages between APHA and Tajikistan has led to the initiative to form a Central Asian hub for avian influenza and Newcastle disease diagnosis. Scientists from APHA gave an overview of their international role and overviewed current knowledge on AOI and ND across the region from a genetic and epidemiological perspective. Following this plenary session, the five countries involved in the meeting briefly presented their national epidemiological situation regarding AI and ND, the diagnostic capability within the country, the laboratory structure and reporting situation within the country, the current understanding of the burden of AI/NDV in-country and the gaps to be work on in current capability.
The countries representatives concluded that surveillance and the characterization of AI and ND virus strains circulating within the region is of high importance. All countries/territories in the region should continue to share information on the occurrence of AI and ND (WAHIS, ADNS, in the short term ADIS) and are encouraged to exchange materials and methods between each other and with the IRL in the UK wherever further viral characterization is sought.