In the last couple of weeks, Avian influenza has hit at least 10 European countries. In addition to the Netherlands, the virus was detected in Germany, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Croatia and Ukraine.
Affected countries have to deal with 2 main issues, one being the stamping out of the disease, the other export restrictions, as stated by Dutch minister of agriculture Carola Schouten.
The minister sees that the outbreaks in the Netherlands have major consequences for the export of poultry and poultry products to countries outside the European Union. Because avian flu has been found in various places in the Netherlands, it is increasingly difficult to allow exports from regions where avian flu has not yet been identified. Countries that require a health certificate stating that the Netherlands is free from HPAI, no longer accept Dutch products.
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Farms across the globe have heightened awareness and upped their biosecurity measures. Outside the EU, Korea and Japan also face a severe virus pressure. (see Poultry Worlds interactive map below).
Apart from virus detection on farm via surveillance programmes, avian influenza is also found abundantly in wild birds. The main virus string circulating there is H5N8, but the more dangerous H5N1 has also been found. A quick glance at the database of the OIE shows multiple reports on wild bird infections, across Europe. Its this virus reservoir that time after time again leads to single introduction outbreaks in farms.