Bird Flu Outburst Threatens These Countries

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  • Several outbreaks of severe bird flu in Europe and Asia have been reported in recent days to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in a sign the virus is spreading quickly again.
  • Bird flu circulates naturally among wild birds, and when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe in winter the disease can be spread to poultry and other captive birds.
  • The Belgian government put the country at an increased risk for bird flu, ordering poultry to be kept indoors as of Monday after a highly pathogenic variant of bird flu was identified in a wild goose near Antwerp.
  • This followed a similar move in neighbouring France earlier this month and in the Netherlands in October.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has received reports of many severe bird flu outbreaks in Europe and Asia in recent days, indicating that the virus is spreading rapidly once more as reported by The Guardian.

High alert

Following earlier outbreaks that resulted in the slaughter of tens of millions of birds, the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has put the poultry sector on high alert.

Epidemiologists are also interested because the virus can be transmitted to people. So far this year, China has documented 21 human illnesses with the H5N6 subtype of avian influenza, more than in the entire year of 2020.

The OIE said on Monday, citing a notification from the South Korean authorities, that an epidemic had been reported at a farm with roughly 770,000 fowl in Chungcheongbuk-do. All of the animals were killed.

Bird flu

Also in Asia, the OIE confirmed that Japan has reported its first outbreak of the 2021 winter season at a poultry farm in the country’s northeast, corroborating a statement made by Japan’s agriculture ministry last week. In this outbreak, the serotype was H5N8.

According to the OIE, a flock of 7,000 birds in Norway’s Rogaland region has been infected with H5N1 bird flu.

Bird flu spreads naturally among wild birds, and it can be introduced to poultry and other captive birds when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe in the winter.

Biosecurity precautions

After a highly pathogenic form of bird flu was discovered in a wild goose near Antwerp, the Belgian authorities heightened the country’s danger of bird flu by ordering poultry to be kept indoors as of Monday.

This comes after similar moves in France earlier this month and the Netherlands in October.

After a flock of poultry was culled in Dundee, Scotland, in response to a bird flu epidemic, a bird flu prevention zone was established across the United Kingdom earlier this month, requiring all bird keepers to follow rigorous biosecurity precautions.

In rare situations, humans can become infected with bird flu after coming into contact with diseased birds, their droppings, or bedding, or when preparing infected food.

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Source: The Guardian

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