'Severe' bird flu reports from Europe and Asia, puts the poultry industry on Alert

Recently, several outbreaks of severe bird flu have been reported in Europe and Asia to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), triggering fears of human transmission.

The spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, has put the poultry industry on alert after previous outbreaks leading to the massive slaughtering of thousands of birds. Such outbreaks also often result in trade restrictions. According to local media reports in China, so far 21 human infections with the H5N6 subtype Avian influenza have been reported this year, which is more than 2020. Japan has reported its first outbreak of the 2021 winter season, at a poultry farm in the northeast of the country, the OIE said, confirming a statement last week by Japan's agriculture ministry. The serotype in this outbreak was H5N8. In South Korea, too, an outbreak has been reported at a farm of around 770,000 poultry in Chungcheongbuk-do, the OIE said on Monday. All the animals were slaughtered. In India, some parts of the state reported the spread of avian influenza. In western Rajasthan state, 189 birds died due to the H5N1 virus on Sunday. In Europe, Norway reported an H5N1 bird flu outbreak in the Rogaland region in a flock of 7,000 birds, the OIE said. Outbreaks generally occur in the autumn, spread by migrating wild birds. The Belgian government put the country at increased risk for bird flu, ordering poultry to be kept indoors as of Monday after a highly pathogenic variant of bird flu was identified in a wild goose near Antwerp. This followed a similar move in neighbouring France earlier this month and in the Netherlands in October. Bird flu can affect humans in rare cases if people touch infected birds, their droppings or bedding, or while preparing infected poultry for cooking. It cannot be transmitted through the eating of poultry products.

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