Denmark closely eyeing German bird flu case

After a worrying new strain of bird flu was found in northern Germany not far from Denmark, Danish officials say they are watching the situation closely but have not raised national threat levels.

Denmark closely eyeing German bird flu case
An official sprays ducks during a cull at a duck farm in northern England last week. Bird flu has now also been discovered just south of the Danish border. Photo: Darren Staples/Scanpix
The German agriculture ministry said on Saturday that a goose with the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain was identified in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The ministry told AFP that it marked the first case of the virus outside of a farm setting in Europe.
German officials say they have asked regional authorities to keep an "active watch" on wild birds, which means killing animals suspected of having the virus and conducting screening tests.
The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) said that the discovery of an H5N8 case near Denmark would not lead to any official changes at home. 
“We are of course watching what happens in the countries around us, but there is no reason to raise the threat level any further. But one should be very aware of their animals, whether they be livestock owners or breeders,” Fødevarestyrelsen spokesman Erik Jepsen told Ritzau. 
Danish authorities raised the threat level from low to medium after H5N8 was discovered in several European locations: a turkey farm in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, several farms in the Netherlands, and at a duck farm in Yorkshire, England.

Sweden’s agriculture agency Jordbruksverket told farmers last week to put all birds indoors or in covered fenced zones as “a precautionary measure”. 
The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 400 people, mainly in southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003.
Another strain of bird flu, H7N9, has claimed more than 170 lives since emerging in 2013.
The H7N7 strain of avian flu severely hit the Netherlands in 2003 with health authorities destroying some 30 million birds in an effort to quash an outbreak.

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Denmark and France launch culls over bird flu cases

France and Denmark confirmed bird flu cases on Monday days after an outbreak in the Netherlands triggered a massive cull.

Denmark and France launch culls over bird flu cases
Photo: AFP

Hundreds of hens were killed after the virus was detected in a garden centre on the French island of Corsica, and the Danes said more than 25,000 birds would be slaughtered after the virus emerged in the west of the country.

France has ordered national protection measures including obligatory confinement of poultry to isolate them from wild birds, while Denmark has suspended exports of eggs to chickens outside the EU.

The virus, which is not harmful to humans but is potentially devastating to the farming sector, has so far appeared in Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia, Ireland and Britain among other countries. 

Dutch officials said earlier this month they had culled more than 200,000 birds. 

Duck breeders in southwestern France have been hit twice in recent years, sparking mass culls that cost producers hundreds of millions of euros.

French officials insisted there was no need for people to change their habits. 

“The consumption of meat, foie gras and eggs – and more generally of any food product – does not present any risk to humans,” the ministry said.

Denmark urged farmers to ensure the birds were protected from possible infection.

The Danes are culling the country's entire population of fur farm mink after some were found to be infected with the novel coronavirus.

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