H5N8 expands reach along Baltic, other parts of Europe

Croatia confirmed H5N8 in wild swans, while the Netherlands and Denmark are investigating suspected cases of the highly pathogenic avian flu. Germany also found the strain in a new region of that country.

The events signal ongoing rapid developments in the spread of H5N8, first to India and then to several countries in Europe.

Croatia confirms H5N8 as disease spreads along Baltic

Yesterday and today more countries across Europe reported H5N8, a highly pathogenic avian influenza that experts predicted would be spreading southward and westward after the H5 clade was found in migratory birds in Russia in June. The strain targets wild birds, waterfowl, and poultry, and will likely circulate through next spring.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported Croatia's first case of H5N8 in 10 wild swans found dead in the River Bidj, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The outbreak occurred on Oct 30 and is ongoing. Only two of the swans were available for laboratory testing, and H5N8 was confirmed. Last week, Hungary also reported H5N8 in wild swans.

Wild birds on the German island of Riems in the Baltic Sea were also reported dead today, according to Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog. The birds were likely tufted ducks and German newspapers have reported that the birds died from H5N8. Additional new sources say wild birds have also been found dead on the islands Griefswalder Oie and Ruden, also in the Baltic Sea.  Officials in Germany are urging poultry farmers to keep their birds indoors.

Earlier this week, Germany reported its first case of H5N8 in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and Poland also reported H5N8 along the Baltic coastline. Just about 200 kilometers north of Germany, the Danish government is investigating the deaths of tufted wild ducks found near Stege on Moen, Avian Flu Diary reports, citing a translation of a Danish government statement. Denmark expects lab results back later today or early tomorrow.

Netherlands waterfowl finding

FluTrackers, the infectious disease message board, said the Netherlands also reported its first confirmed cases of H5N8 in dead crested grebes and tufted ducks near Monnickendam. Its source was a Dutch government statement.

Today the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Martijn van Dam, ordered poultry companies to keep birds indoors to avoid the risk of avian influenza, according to a report from The Poulty Site, an industry news outlet.

Finally today brought a warning from the United Kingdom's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The organization said that due to H5N8 outbreaks in Hungary and Poland, it was evaluating its avian flu testing abilities, but said there gad been little poultry trade between Great Britain and continental Europe.

See also:

Nov 10 OIE Croatia report

Nov 10 Avian Flu Diary Germany post

Nov 10 Avian Flu Diary Denmark post

Nov 10 FluTrackers post

Nov 10 Poultry Site post

Nov 10 DEFRA statement

Nov 8 CIDRAP News story "H5N8 spreads to wild birds in Germany, Austria"

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