Bird flu reported on German farm

A highly pathogenic strain of bird flu, previously unreported in Europe, has been detected in Germany, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

30,000 turkeys were to be slaughtered after being found to be infected with H5N8 on a farm in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

“The international community has to realize that some poor countries in Asia living with the bird flu virus must receive more support to intensify precautionary measures and to contain the risks associated with the disease,” the agency said.

China and Japan also reported cases of the H5N8 virus earlier this year.

Control at source

The immediate challenge is to control Avian Influenza at source in the infected countries and stop the possible spread of the virus to other regions. “The battle against bird flu can only be won if more efforts and resources are directed to containment of the virus in animals in rural areas,” FAO/OIE said.

Water birds, particularly ducks, are considered as a reservoir of infection. The chances for spillover from ducks inhabiting the vast wetlands to poultry production units in villages or on commercial farms need to be significantly decreased. Strict biosecurity measures need to be applied throughout the poultry production chain, from farms and smallholdings to distribution channels, markets and retailers.

In order to contain the bird flu epidemic, infected countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia need the support of the international community to strengthen the veterinary infrastructure and implement effective control strategies, based on better biosecurity, modernised industry practices and, where appropriate, vaccination, FAO/OIE said.