Monday, November 24, 2014

Avian flu alarm in Europe

Alarm is spreading in Europe because a wild duck has been found to be infected with H5N8 avian influenza.

The concern now is that this highly-contagious and deadly – for chickens and turkeys – virus could spread throughout the poultry industry.

Earlier this month a flock of 150,000 laying hens in The Netherlands was slaughtered when this virus turned up there.

A 10-kilometre quarantine zone was declared, preventing all poultry barns inside that zone from moving any of their birds or eggs to market.

The wild duck was found in Northern Germany. That’s also where the virus was first discovered earlier this month in domesticated birds at a turkey farm.

There has also been an outbreak in the United Kingdom.

Authorities say that the first wild bird case strengthens the suspicion that the source of the European outbreak lies in the wild bird population.

"We must now talk about a Europe-wide epidemic," said Till Backhaus, the agriculture minister of the German state of Mecklemburg Vorpommern, where the wild bird was found.

He ordered all poultry farmers in his state to keep their animals inside enclosures and away from wild birds.