Bird flu outbreaks in Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Sweden

Hundreds of chickens close to each other in a shed with no room to move
Chickens have to stay inside a chicken shed for at least a month in the Netherlands, Wijk en Aalburg, Netherlands on October 26, 2021, credit: Utrecht Robin/Abaca via Reuters Connect

Bulgarian veterinary authorities will kill more than 80,000 chickens at an industrial farm in the southern village of Tsalapitsa after a bird flu outbreak, the country’s food safety agency said on Friday.

Bird flu was also detected at two backyard farms, one in the same village and one in the nearby town of Varvara, where about 100 chickens were killed.

On Friday, the German state of Thuringia said it had detected bird flu at a farm in the Altenburger Land district. All animals at the farm would be killed, the state labour ministry said in a statement.

A case of bird flu has been detected on a farm with ducks and hens in Sweden, authorities said on Thursday. Last month, Sweden ordered farmers to keep all birds indoors to avoid contact with wild birds.

Other countries in Europe, like the Netherlands and Belgium, have also ordered farmers to keep animals indoors. This means that chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and other birds will be locked-up 24 hours a day and won’t see any daylight.

It has been documented by animal welfare organizations that most chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and other birds suffer at farms in Europe, and now fresh air, for the ones that were allowed to go outside, has also been taken away from them.

Almost 5000 turkeys were killed at a farm in Hungary after a bird flu outbreak, the National Food Chain Safety Office (Nebih) said on Wednesday. The virus was also found in a dead swan.

In Slovakia, four wild birds got avian influenza. In Iran, bird flu was found in three wild birds; one died from the disease, and the other two were killed. In Israel, a great white pelican died from avian influenza. Luxembourg also detected bird flu in wild birds.

The avian influenza virus is spreading throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Whenever the virus is discovered in farm or wild birds, the only solution governments have is to kill all animals in the vicinity of the infected animals. As a result, millions of birds have been killed in 2021.

Human cases of bird flu are also on the rise, especially in China, where more than 20 cases have been reported. This is up from only five cases in 2020.

Experts are concerned about the rise in numbers and think the strain may have changed, making it more infectious to humans.

In recent years, chicken, turkey, duck, and goose farms have grown immensely, and experts say the virus may have evolved into something that spreads easily between people.

Further investigation is urgently needed to understand the risk and increase in spillover effects to humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the interest of animal welfare and to prevent emerging diseases, animal rights groups have consistently called for rethinking the animal farming industry.

The Animal Reader is a small, independent news platform with daily posts about issues affecting animals.

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