The Finland Food Authority today announced that H5N1 avian flu has been detected on 5 more fur farms, including one housing a second fox species, raising the total to 10.
Of the five additional farms, four are located near Kausti in the south central part of the country where two earlier outbreaks were reported. Those four farms housed blue foxes.
One of the new outbreaks was reported from Evijarvi, about 25 miles south of Kausti. That farm housed silver foxes, a variant of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Most of the earlier outbreaks involved blue foxes, a variant of the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus). One of the earlier affected farms also detected the virus in minks raised at its facility.
Regulatory changes, safety measures
In related developments, Finnish government officials yesterday announced regulatory changes that would give them jurisdiction regarding avian flu outbreaks on fur farms, according to a statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog. Today they announced safety measures for feed operators. Investigators are working to determine the source of the outbreaks, with contact with infected wild birds or their environments and contaminated food among the possibilities.
The initial outbreaks at the fur farms were first reported last week, marking the country's first such events in the facilities and the world's second involving fur farms. Officials have said the virus is related to the one affecting wild birds in Finland, with detections continuing over the summer, along with mass deaths in sea gulls from different parts of the country.
Increasing numbers of H5N1 detections in mammal species have raised concerns about whether the virus is changing to more easily infect humans.