The particularly dangerous strain of avian influenza virus H5N8 has been detected in a mute swan found on the Kopli peninsula in Tallinn.
Olev Kalda, head of the department for animal health and animal welfare at the Estonian Agriculture and Food Board, said that this is the first such find in Estonia. "The authority inspects both poultry and wild and waterfowl every year, and so far no bird flu had been detected," Kalda said.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is one of the most dangerous animal diseases and causes mass morbidity and mortality in birds. The strain of the virus does not pose a threat to humans but causes economic damage. The Agriculture and Food Board is asking for the help of all citizens.
"As there is no vaccination or treatment for this disease, poultry must be kept indoors to avoid infection. In the event of disease, birds must be killed and feed, feed containers, waste and other material which may be contaminated with the virus must be properly treated or destroyed to prevent the spread of the virus," Kalda said.
He added that these activities take place under the control of a supervisor of the Agriculture and Food Board. New birds can be brought into the premises after complete cleaning and disinfection.
The main symptoms of avian influenza are swelling of the combs, wattles and facial area, loss of appetite, drowsiness, diarrhea and a sharp drop in egg production. Birds can also pant and their comb and wattle may turn blue.
In order to protect their poultry, farmers must, if possible, keep the birds in a barn and avoid any contact with wild birds. No unauthorized persons may be allowed near the birds. Hand washing and a change of clothes and shoes are necessary before feeding them.
If abnormal mortality is observed, a veterinarian must be informed. Birds and hatching eggs may be imported from abroad only on the basis of a veterinary certificate.
If a person finds fresh carcasses of waterfowl, such as geese or swans, large numbers of dead wild birds or dead birds of prey, the Agriculture and Food Board asks that people notify the authority by calling the helpline +372 605 4767.
Avian influenza has been detected in 27 European countries and approximately 3.5 million poultry have been killed or died this year due to the disease.
Editor: Helen Wright