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Asia and Europe report severe bird flu outbreaks

Several cases of severe avian 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 the earlier outbreaks that resulted in 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. Trade restrictions are frequently imposed as a result of outbreaks.

Epidemiologists are also concerned, 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.

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, a statement made by Japan’s agriculture ministry last week, revealed. 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.

Outbreaks are most common in the autumn, and they are spread by migratory birds.

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 incidents in France earlier this month and the Netherlands in October. Bird flu however does not spread through consumption of poultry products.


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