Contagious avian influenza virus found Tallinn Zoo bird

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Ducks at Tallinn Zoo. Source: smerikal/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Detection of the highly contagious H5N8 strain of the avian influenza virus in a bird of Tallinn Zoo earlier this week has prompted the Agricultural and Food Board to impose a quarantine and related restrictions to limit the spread of the infection.

Hele-Mai Sammel, deputy director general of the Estonian Agricultural and Food Board, said on Thursday the whole zoo will not be closed.

"The quarantine was imposed on one section of the zoo where waterfowl that have been in contact with the infected bird are kept. The zoo has to ensure that this area is inaccessible to unauthorized persons and that biosecurity measures are in place to prevent the further spread of the disease. Existing rules allow for derogations to be applied to zoos in imposing restrictions, and therefore the finding does not result in wider restrictions on the surrounding area, and the birds kept in the zoo will not be killed," Sammel said.

The zoo's director general Tiit Maran said that the zoo remains open to visitors, but in order to protect the birds, the section of the waterfowl is closed to visitors.

"We consider the welfare of birds and other animals of Tallinn Zoo and their health to be important, which is why we observe all biosecurity requirements so that avian influenza is not transmitted. We hope that the bird flu will soon recede from Estonia and we will be able to exhibit all our birds to visitors," Maran said.

On Tuesday, the H5N8 strain of the avian influenza virus was detected in a goosander duck at Tallinn Zoo. The next day, the Agricultural and Food Board conducted an inspection of the birds and the birdkeeping conditions at the zoo, during which no other birds were found to show signs of the disease. The biosecurity measures in place were altogether sufficient to implement the permitted derogations. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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