Avian flu spreads across Europe and Asia and worries the poultry industry

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Several outbreaks of severe bird flu in Europe and Asia have been reported in recent days to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), in a sign that the virus is rapidly spreading again.

The spread of highly pathogenic avian flu, commonly called bird flu, has put the poultry industry on high alert after previous outbreaks have led to the slaughter of tens of millions of birds. Outbreaks also often lead to restrictions on trade.

It is also drawing the attention of epidemiologists, as the virus can be transmitted to humans. China has reported 21 human infections with the H5N6 avian influenza subtype so far this year, more than in the full year of 2020.

South Korea has reported an outbreak on a farm of about 770,000 birds, the OIE reported on Monday (14), citing a report from South Korean authorities. All animals were slaughtered.

Also in Asia, Japan reported its first outbreak of the 2021 winter season on a poultry farm in the northeast of the country, the OIE said, confirming a statement by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture last week. The serotype in this outbreak was H5N8.

In Europe, Norway reported an outbreak of H5N1 avian flu in the Rogaland region in a flock of 7,000 birds, the OIE said.

Outbreaks usually occur in autumn, spread by migrating wild birds.

The Belgian government has increased the risk of bird flu in the country, ordering the birds to be kept indoors from Monday, after a highly pathogenic variant of avian flu was identified in a wild goose.

This followed a similar move in neighboring France earlier this month and the Netherlands in October.

Avian flu cannot be transmitted by eating poultry products.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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