Avian flu widespread in northern Estonia

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Avian flu affects and infects wild birds and domesticated birds alike. Source: ERR

Authorities have detected cases of avian flu in several locations in northern Estonia, Hele-Mai Sammel, deputy director general of the Agriculture and Food Board (Põllumajandus- ja Toiduamet) says.

An recent outbreak in Lääne-Viru County led to a poultry farm having to destroy its entire stock, while since then, instances of avian flu have been found in Harju, Lääne-Viru, Ida-Viru, Lääne and Hiiu counties, BNS reports, predominantly in wild waterfowl rather than captive or domestic birds.

Wild birds can come into contact with poultry and other domestic birds if the latter are kept outdoors in particular, meaning avian flu can vector in that way.

A total of 20 bird carcasses found so far have tested positive for avian flu, but the advent of the spring migratory period brings with it the risk of a greater spread.

Following the outbreak above, a ban has been imposed on the keeping of poultry and other birds outdoors along with the requirement for biosecurity measures to be implemented across Estonia, while the Agriculture and Food Board urges poultry farmers to exercise particular caution in protecting their birds and avoid whatever contact with wild birds.

"It is particularly important to pay attention to biosecurity requirements and make sure that nobody enters the rooms where poultry is kept without changing their footwear, clothing, and washing their hands. Keeping poultry indoors continues to be mandatory to prevent the spread of avian influenza," Hele-Mai Sammel said.

The Agriculture and Food Board and other authorities are working on containing further spread, the board says.

Avian flu symptoms including swelling, a loss of appetite, drowsiness and a drop in egg production. While the virus is not a danger to humans, the stock at the Telo Talu farm was reportedly destroyed.

Outbreaks have been found in Estonia in the past, for instance in 2017.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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