1. Animal Husbandry

Poultry: Europe & Asia on High Alert Due to Rapid Spread of Bird Flu

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Poultry Farming

Multiple cases of severe bird flu have been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in recent days, indicating that the virus is spreading swiftly once more. 

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 report from the South Korean authorities, that an epidemic had been reported at a farm with roughly 770,000 poultry in Chungcheongbuk-do. All of the animals were killed. 

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 north-east, 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. 

After a highly pathogenic form of bird flu was discovered in a wild goose near Antwerp, the Belgian authorities declared the country at risk of bird flu, 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 outbreak, a bird flu prevention zone was established across the United Kingdom earlier this month, requiring all bird keepers to follow rigorous biosecurity precautions. 

Humans can become infected with bird flu if they come into contact with diseased birds, their droppings, or bedding, or if they handle contaminated poultry for cooking.

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