While surrounded by countries (Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic) reporting numerous outbreaks of H5N8, Austria has been largely spared - reporting the virus to the OIE only twice this winter - in a handful of wild birds found on the shores of Lake Constance, and in a single flock of free range turkeys, both reported in November of last year.
Today however, Tiergarten Schönbrunn - considered to be the oldest Zoo in the world (established on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna in 1752), is reporting the discovery of H5N8 in a sick Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), which has been euthanized.
Despite implementing enhanced biosecurity since December, and sheltering their pelicans under cover, the H5N8 virus managed to make its way into their aviary. The Zoo has temporarily closed their bird , rain forest and desert exhibition areas, and additional test results are expected tomorrow.
The following (translated) statement comes from the Vienna Zoo Website.
Bird flu case in the Tiergarten
March 8, 2017
In the Schönbrunn Zoo, a case of bird flu has occurred. With one of the Krauskopfpelikane, which had already been stored as a precaution in a tent since December, the H5N8 virus has been detected. "The bird has been acutely ill on Monday and had to be euthanized. Now the proof is that he was infected with the bird flu strain H5N8, "explains Zoo veterinarian Thomas Voracek.
The other measures are coordinated by the experts of the zoo continuously with the MA 60 veterinary services and animal protection of the city of Vienna - and the experts at the Federal Ministry of Health and Women. In order to protect the rest of the bird population, the Vogelhaus, the Regenwaldhaus and the Wüstenhaus are now closed. The virus does not pose a threat to humans.
The rest of the pelicans were sampled yesterday from the throat and cloaca together with MA 60 veterinarians. The results will be expected tomorrow.