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New bird flu outbreaks hit Poland

Poland has reported several new outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza on multiple poultry farms, the country’s veterinary inspectors confirmed to Poultry World.
Outbreaks of avian influenza were registered in multiple countries in Europe, leading to transport and trade restrictions. Photo: Koos Groenewold
Outbreaks of avian influenza were registered in multiple countries in Europe, leading to transport and trade restrictions. Photo: Koos Groenewold

The first outbreak was found on a farm located in the village of Strusy in the Masovian Voivodeship on 2 November 2021. The farm was home to 80,812 turkeys. In total, 15 avian influenza outbreaks were recorded in Poland in 2 weeks, in Lubuskie, Łódzkie and Śląskie, and the Greater Poland region. The virus primarily affected turkey and duck farms, with as many as 550,000 birds estimated to be affected to date.

A massive blow for Poland’s poultry sector

The new outbreaks are a huge disappointment for the Polish poultry sector. At the end of September, Poland submitted a declaration to the World Organization for Animal Health seeking the status of an avian influenza-free country. Poland will likely lose the right to sell poultry to the US, a country which Poland struggled to gain access to for 15 years.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service greenlit the export of Polish poultry in October 2021 after reviewing the country’s poultry laws, regulations, and inspection system. Polish farmers considered this a significant achievement. Shortly following this decision, 24 poultry farms signed contracts to sell 31,600 tonnes of poultry to the US, the local business union estimated. The opening of a new market would help Poland keep its status as the largest European poultry exporter.

Outbreaks across Europe

The new outbreaks have not come out of the blue. In a recent statement, the Polish veterinary service warned that the epizootic situation posed a threat of new avian influenza outbreaks in Europe, including in Poland, the inspectorate said. Between 1 and 28 October 2021, 36 avian influenza outbreaks were recorded in EU countries, including 25 in Germany.

“Since AI outbreaks have been found in wild birds in Germany in close proximity to the Polish border, the chief veterinary officer emphasised the necessity to follow the rules of biosecurity when contacting poultry,” the Polish veterinary inspectorate stated.

Rapid spread of avian influenza

The virus has been spreading rapidly in Europe over the past several weeks, raising concerns among farmers and veterinary officials as previous outbreaks led to the culling of tens of millions of birds and international trade restrictions. Last week, the French government put the domestic poultry industry on high alert for bird flu, extending the requirement to keep all poultry indoors. Avian influenza outbreaks have recently been also discovered in the Netherlands and the UK.