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.
Keywords: H5N8; Highly pathogenic avian influenza; Namibia; outbreak; penguins.