H5N8 spreads to wild birds in Germany, Austria

In quickly evolving avian influenza developments, animal health officials in two more European countries—Germany and Austria—reported outbreaks involving the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain. 

The announcements come just 1 day after Poland reported H5N8 in wild birds in the northwest corner of the country.

Over the last few weeks India and Hungary reported the same virus; those reports and the new European detections appear to be part of a wave that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned about in September. The FAO urged countries to be on the lookout after a highly pathogenic H5N8 clade was found in migratory birds in Russia in early June.

The H5 clade has limited capacity to infect humans, the FAO has said.

Yesterday the FAO updated it warning to say it expects that the strain will pose a risk to Europe and the Middle East through March of 2017.

Germany's outbreak involves wild birds

Germany's outbreak occurred in dead wild birds collected around Great Plon Lake in Schleswig-Holstein state, located in the northern part of the country, according to a German agriculture ministry statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog. The outbreak area is about 170 miles west of where H5N8 was detected in Poland.

The ministry said more than 100 dead waterfowl had been found and that tests at the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute confirmed the H5N8 findings. Health officials ordered restrictions on poultry movement in the area, along with enhanced surveillance. It also urged poultry owners to be alert for any signs of illness in their flocks.

Austria reports virus in waterfowl

Also today Austria's health ministry reported H5N8 in five wild birds, mainly tufted ducks, found dead near Lake Constance, near the borders with Liechtenstein, Germany, and Switzerland, according to an official announcement translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.

The findings were confirmed at Austria's national reference lab. Officials said they are deciding the next steps to take, which could include establishing a protection zone around the lake and more biosecurity for poultry in the area. Officials are coordinating outbreak control measures with their counterparts in Germany and Switzerland.

Austria's statement said Croatia has detected the H5N8 subtype. If confirmed by Croatian veterinary officials, the number of countries affected in Europe would rise to five.

See also:

Nov 7 CIDRAP News scan "Among more reports of H5N8 in Europe, FAO issues warning"

Nov 8 Avian Flu Diary post on German outbreak

Nov 8 FluTrackers' post on Austrian outbreak

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