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Avian influenza: Poland records first case as European infections rise

free-range hens indoors

POLAND has recorded its first case of avian influenza in the second half of 2020, after being struck by the virus earlier this year.

The affected laying hen farm is close to the western town of Wolsztyn and houses close to one million birds, according to the OIE report.

See also: Chick placings down again in October

Local media reports that the farm comprises 14 separate sheds, and that the government would cull all birds on-site to control the spread of the virus.

Poland was hit by 32 cases of highly pathogenic outbreaks of H5N8 between January and May this year, leading analysts to say the country’s sector was facing an ‘unprecedented crisis’.

Croatia and Slovenia also recorded their first positive cases this week.

There have now been avian influenza cases or wild bird detections across much of Europe.

The specific strain causing these outbreaks was first detected in Iraq in May 2020, according to Nicola Lewis, professor in One Health Evolutionary Biology at the Royal Veterinay College.

But she added it was likely to have been circulating undetected in wild birds from 2019.

New cases

Italy, for example, recently registered its first cases in wild birds and reported a low-pathogenicity outbreak on a duck farm in the north west.

A goose farm in northern Germany has also been confirmed as having the virus.

And in the Netherlands, there have now been six confirmed cases on poultry farms in four different provinces.

“The risk of a transfer in poultry farms and more cases among wild birds is higher than in the past two years because of the massive appearance of various bird flu viruses in Europe,” a spokeswoman for the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute, Germany’s federal animal disease research agency told Reuters.

Housing order

Defra’s latest wild bird survey, which covers the week to 15 November, reported 25 wild birds across England testing positive for the virus.

There has been two outbreaks on commercial broiler breeder farms in the UK, one in a Gloucestershire wetland centre and one in a Leicestershire petting zoo, as well as a low-pathogenic case on a smallholding in Kent.

It is understood that the government is close to announcing a free-range housing order.