Bird flu outbreak in Europe

Six European countries have confirmed outbreaks of a dangerous strain of bird flu, which has caused alarm in Germany where the H5N8 virus spread further on Thursday.

Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Denmark and Austria have reported that highly pathogenic avian influenza was spreading among wild birds.

In Germany, the virus was first detected in the eastern state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern and on the Bavarian side of Lake Constance in the south of the country.

Dead wild birds were earlier found in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein and the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, prompting the authorities in some states to issue guidelines for poultry to be kept indoors to prevent infection from wild birds.

H5N8 was first found in Denmark in dead wild birds on the island of Mon and in Copenhagen. Hungary reported a second outbreak at a poultry farm.

The outbreaks could have severe economic consequences coming just before Christmas when the virus could spread to slaughtered ducks and geese.

Wild birds such as ducks, geese, swans and gulls are often reservoirs or hosts for avian influenza A viruses. Domesticated birds such as chickens and turkeys may become infected through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry.

The highly infectious H5N8 was first isolated from migratory waterfowl in South Korea in 2014.

It has been found in European domestic fowl flocks since November 2014, and led to massive culling.

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