Bird Flu Identified in the UK, Netherlands and Germany
The bird flu was recently identified in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. According to health officials, the strain found in the Netherlands and Germany poses a very small health risk and has not been known to be deadly to humans. The exact strain found in England has yet to be determined.
"The public health risk is very low and there is no risk to the food chain," said a spokeswoman at Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The avian flu was first identified in chickens from the Netherlands and even earlier on farms in Germany. Officials reported that the strain behind the two outbreaks is the H5N8 strain. H5N8 is highly contagious in birds but has never been detected in humans. In England, the officials have not determined whether or not the circulating strain is also H5N8. However, they are sure that the strain is not H5N1, which is the one responsible for killing 400 people since 2003.
In the Netherlands, authorities demanded the killing of 150,000 chickens after the strain was discovered at a farm near the village of Hekendorp. The authorities enforced a six-mile exclusion radius around the form for 30 days. There was also a three-day ban on any exports of poultry products.
In the UK, the same exclusion radius was placed on the farm in Yorkshire. The farm's 6,000 ducks will be destroyed.
"We can say that all the protocols were followed and we can only praise the behavior of the authorities of the two member states," said a European Commission spokesman.
The health officials believe that the strain could have been brought to Europe by wild birds that were migrating from Asia.
"Every time Europe has been contaminated to date it has been through migrating birds," the head of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Director General Bernard Vallat, told Reuters. "It is hard to protect farms from wild birds. They are often attracted by food and other birds."
So far, they cannot definitively link all three outbreaks to one another and to outbreaks in Asia.