The reassorted HPAI H5N6 virus, which arrived in Northern Europe for the first time in December of last year, continues to turn up sporadically in wild birds, with the bulk of reports coming from the UK, Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.
While nowhere near as prevalent as was HPAI H5N8 during the epizootic of 2016-17, it has nonetheless make a bigger showing than did H5N8 during its inaugural visit to Europe in 2014-15.With migratory birds heading to northern latitudes for their summer roosting, the risks of seeing avian flu outbreaks in poultry or wild birds along their migratory routes is elevated.
Two reports. First a translated report from Finland's EVIRA.
Eat bird H5N6 avian influenza in Sauvon
Southwest Finland has repeatedly found bird flu from birdwatch. H5N6-type avian influenza causing high pathogenic or high mortality to birds was now detected in the sea-bird found dead in Sauvos. To prevent infections, poultry and domestic birds must be kept inside or protected from contact with wild birds until the end of May.
The eel was found in the Savo region last Wednesday (18 April). The bird flu virus diagnosis in Kotka was confirmed by the Finnish Food Safety Authority's Evia study.
Due to the spring migration of birds, the risk of infection with avian influenza is particularly high. At the end of March, H5N6 avian influenza was found in the eel seen from Parainen, Southwest Finland. During the first part of the year, high pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus has been found in wild birds and poultry farms, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. All the birds have had to stop the infected farms.
Avian influenza viruses are poorly infected with humans, and infection usually requires close contact with diseased wild birds, poultry or their secretions. Europe's H5N6-type avian influenza found in Europe is never known to be infected with humans.
And from neighboring Sweden, we get this translated report from the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket).
New cases of bird flu - still important with good poultry care routines
Press Release • Apr 26, 2018 10:04 CEST
Three new cases of H5N6 bird flu have been identified after analysis at the National Veterinary Office (SVA). It is about a sea eagle, a pigeon hut and a buzzard found in the areas surrounding Mörrum and Bromölla in southern Sweden. This virus has not been found to present a risk to humans, unlike the H5N6 virus that circulates in Asia.
"In order to avoid spreading to poultry, it is important that poultry producers and hobby farmer owners have good contingency routines," said Karin Åhl, chairman of the unit for horse, poultry and game at the Swedish Agriculture Agency.
- The H5N6 is still circulating in wild bird populations in the country and we do not know how extensive the spread is. It is likely that new cases of wild birds will be detected, and there is still a risk of infestation of the bird of birds. Therefore, we would like to remind you that it is always important to protect your domestic birds from direct and indirect contact with wild birds, "says Karl Ståhl, Deputy State Psychologist at SVA.
The virus is closely related to H5N8, which circulated among wild birds in Sweden in 2016 and 2017, and also caused outbreaks in poultry. While the H5N8 has been massive in large parts of Europe, the H5N6 has not been reported to the same extent, nor has it been associated with the same mortality.
Available naturally among wild birds
In February 2018, a H5N6 bird flu was detected at a sea eagle and a snake on the Blekinge coast. Thereafter, additional cases have been found in a hobby crew in Uppsala County and two sea ears in Blekinge.
Bird flu exists in many varieties and is highly contagious between birds. Milder variants of the virus are found naturally among wild birds, especially in marine birds. Protection level 1 applies in Sweden, which means that poultry may go out, but feed and water should be given under roof or under outdoor protection.
It is important to have good care routines and to prevent direct and indirect contact with wild birds as far as possible. Animal owners should pay attention and contact the vet if poultry show increased mortality, changes in feed and water consumption, egg production reduction or impaired general condition.
General hygiene rules
- Ensure that only those who care for the domestic birds have access to the zoos.
- Keep clean around houses and enclosures.
- Be sure to observe the routines at the hygiene limits.
- Wash hands after contact with birds.
- After a foreign visit, you should not be in contact with domestic birds until after 48 hours.
More informationAlthough Europe has gotten off pretty easy this winter - like its predecessor H5N8, H5N6 has shown considerable persistence in wild birds - and it now in the process of returning the northern breeding grounds for the summer, possibly to further evolve or reassort with other viruses.
The Swedish Agricultural Agency's information on bird flu
On preventive measures for those who keep poultry and birds in captivity
SVA's information on bird flu
Public Health Information on bird flu
Last summer, the $64 question was whether H5N8 would return in the fall, or something else. In the end, we got something new; a reassorted HPAI H5N6 virus.Once again this summer, we'll be waiting to see what returns in the fall.