Farms in lockdown as severe avian flu is confirmed in wild birds in six European countries

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 9:49am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 10:12pm

Germany, Austria, Croatia and Switzerland have officially reported outbreaks of a severe strain of bird flu in wild birds, bringing the number of European countries hit by the virus to six, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday.

The Dutch government said on Wednesday it had ordered farmers in the Netherlands to keep poultry flocks indoors after suspected infections of the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus had been found in several countries.

Though the H5N8 virus is highly contagious in birds, it has never been found in humans.

It had been found in several EU countries in 2014 and led to massive poultry cullings.

Official veterinary reports posted on the OIE website showed the virus was found this week in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein on 58 tufted ducks, a great black-backed gull and a coot.

A similar outbreak occurred in ducks in Switzerland, near the border with Poland and Austria, which itself discovered cases in several types of wild birds.

Poland reported an outbreak of H5N8 in ducks and a gull near the German border, while Croatia said it had found the virus in swans in the eastern part of the country. Hungary discovered the disease in a swan bear the Serbian border, the reports said.

Wild migrating birds can transmit bird flu to farmed poultry.