PARIS — Several outbreaks of severe bird flu in Europe and Asia have been reported in recent days to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in a sign the virus is spreading quickly again.
The spread of highly pathogenic bird flu, commonly known as bird flu, has put the poultry industry on high alert after previous outbreaks led to the culling of millions of birds. Epidemics often result in trade restrictions.
It has also attracted the attention of epidemiologists because the virus can be transmitted to humans.
So far this year, China has reported 21 human infections with the H5N6 subtype of bird flu, more than in all of 2020.
South Korea has reported an outbreak at a farm with around 770,000 poultry in Chungcheongbuk-do, the OIE said on Monday, citing a report from South Korean authorities. All the animals were slaughtered.
Also in Asia, Japan reported its first outbreak of the 2021 winter season in a poultry farm in the northeast of the country, the OIE said, confirming a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture last week.
The serotype in this outbreak was H5N8.
In Europe, Norway reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in the Rogaland region in a flock of 7,000 birds, the OIE said.
Outbreaks usually occur in the fall and are spread by migrating wild birds.
The Belgian government has put the country at increased risk of bird flu and ordered poultry kept indoors from Monday after a highly pathogenic variant of bird flu was identified in a wild goose near ‘Antwerp.
This follows a similar move in neighboring France earlier this month and in the Netherlands in October.
Bird flu cannot be transmitted by eating poultry products.
- Editor / additional report by Reuters