The H5N8 avian influenza virus has been detected in a wild bird in Europe for the first time. It was found in north-east Germany, in the same state as the earlier outbreak in poultry but more than 50km away from the farm
Another case of H5N8 avian influenza has been confirmed in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania by the agriculture department there in an initial statement.
Later, the department confirmed that the presence of the H5N8 subtype of the virus had been confirmed in a wild bird – a common teal (Anas crecca).
The virus was detected during surveillance of wild birds in the Vorpommern Rügen region at a location 50km from the farm with the first outbreak in Heinrichswalde, which is in the region of Vorpommern Greifswald.
Dr Till Backhaus, the state’s Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Consumer Protection, said this is a new and unpleasant situation and it must now be seen as a Europe-wide infection, with outbreaks in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK and an infection reservoir in the wild bird population. In the first two countries, at least, exactly the same virus has been confirmed.
In order to protect the nation’s poultry, he called for all domestic birds to be kept indoors, as he asked for all poultry keepers to cooperate in their own interests in order to avoid contact between their poultry and wild birds.
Dr Backhaus added that free-range poultry producers must bear a high responsibility to maintain biosecurity measures. In particular, he called on them to report any unexplained signs of diseases or mortalities for investigation, and to take every precaution to keep wild birds away from feed, bedding material and other objects designated for their birds.
Domestic poultry must not have access to open water to which wild birds also have access.
Any suspicions of disease should be reported to the veterinary and food safety authorities, the Minister said.