Bird flu – Another shock for global poultry industry

German authorities have confirmed another outbreak of H5N8 bird flu in a farm in northern Germany.
Reuters reports that the case was found on a small chicken farm in the Kreis Segeberg area the northern state of Schweswig-Holstein, the Segeberg local government authority said in a statement.
The 36 chickens on the farm have been ordered to be slaughtered and poultry on nearby farms will not be allowed outside, the authority said.
A series of outbreaks of the disease have been reported in Europe in past weeks. Wild birds are believed to be spreading the disease.
Type H5N8 bird flu was found in another farm in Schleswig-Holstein on 5 November.
The Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of chicken meat and eggs, ordered the culling of over 200,000 chickens after bird flu has been found on several farms since late October.
Britain ordered a cull of 13,000 birds at a farm in northwest England after detecting cases there.
The H5N8 bird flu outbreak in the village of Wroniawy is the 33rd one in Poland this year, said PAP citing the Chief Veterinary Inspectorate data.
Poland will cull over 900,000 hens in a farm in western Poland due to a bird flu outbreak which was discovered in last week of November, state news agency PAP quoted local veterinary authorities as saying.
Risk to humans from the disease is considered low, but past outbreaks among farm birds have required extensive slaughtering programmes to contain them.
Belgium has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N5 bird flu on a poultry farm, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed in last week of November.
The outbreak, which occurred in the western town of Menen near the border with France, killed 600 birds and led to the destruction of the other 151,000 birds in the flock, the OIE said in a website alert.
South Korea
South Korea has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu on a duck farm in the southwestern part of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on 30th November.
The outbreak, which occurred in the town of Girin-ri, killed 19,000 ducks, the OIE said in a website alert, quoting the South Korean agriculture ministry.
Some 392,000 chickens and ducks at a total of six farms were killed preventively, the ministry also said.
The French farm ministry said on 8th December that highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu had been found on a duck farm in the southwest of the country, confirming France’s first farm outbreak of the virus this year.
Bird flu has been spreading rapidly in Europe, putting the poultry industry on alert after previous outbreaks led to the culling of tens of millions of birds.
“The ANSES national reference laboratory confirmed today the infection of a farm of 6,000 ducks by the H5N8 virus in the municipality of Benesse-Maremne (Landes region), in which high mortality was observed on Dec. 5,” the ministry said in a statement.
A security zone was set up around the farm on Dec. 7, implying extra monitoring, a ban on the move of poultry and additional sanitary measures, the ministry said, adding that all the ducks on the farm were culled.
The spread of the virus in Europe prompted France to raise its bird flu security alert to “high” in early November, which requires keeping birds indoors or installing protective netting to prevent contact with wild birds that spread the disease.
Japan’s worst bird flu outbreak on record spread to new farms and now affects more than 20% of the country’s 47 prefectures, with officials ordering cullings after more poultry deaths.
About 11,000 birds will be slaughtered and buried after avian influenza was discovered at an egg farm in Higashiomi city in Shiga prefecture in southwestern Japan, the agriculture ministry said in December second week.
Another outbreak started in Kagawa prefecture, where the outbreak emerged last month, the ministry more recently.
The outbreak in Japan and neighbouring South Korea is one of two separate highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) epidemics hitting poultry around the world, according the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Both the strain circulating in Asia and the one in Europe originated in wild birds, it said.
“The virus found in Japan is genetically very close to the recent Korean viruses and thus related to viruses in Europe from early 2020, not those currently circulating in Europe,” Madhur Dhingra, a senior animal health officer at the FAO, told Reuters by email.
“This means that we currently have two distinct H5N8 HPAI epidemics in eastern Asia and Europe,” she said.
The FAO has issued an alert to African health authorities for heightened surveillance of farms to avoid the spread of the more recent European strain there.
In Japan, 10 of the country’s 47 prefectures have been affected in the outbreak, with around 3 million birds culled to date, a record number.
Japan has suspended poultry imports from seven countries, including Germany.
Source: Reuters and other media reports