Growing outbreaks of avian flu across Europe and Asia have raised flags across the poultry industry. A recent uptick in cases reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health reflects a troubling rise.
The health and poultry industries are both on alert after a worrying increase in cases of bird flu across several European and Asian countries. Bird flu is highly infectious and has led to high incidences of bird culling in previous outbreaks.
Various strains of the pathogenic flu have popped up in countries like Japan, China, South Korea, France, Norway, and Belgium.
France, the Netherlands, and Belgium have all responded by imposing an order that poultry be kept indoors to limit the spread. Meanwhile, various farms in Japan have taken to culling birds after detecting strains in farms with upwards of 100,000 poultry. South Korea also reported increasing cases among a farm of 770,000 poultry, with all animals being subsequently slaughtered in response.
Bird flu can be a real killer for the animals infected. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the mortality rate for birds infected with the avian flu is 50 per cent.
While human contraction of the virus is not impossible, it is largely uncommon. However, China reported 21 cases of human infection with the avian flu thus far this year compared to only five in 2020.
Despite the relatively low risks, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a few precautions for those in areas with frequent or rising outbreaks, such as:
- Avoiding contact with wild birds
- Avoiding contact with domestic birds that appear ill
- Avoiding contact with surfaces suspected to have been contaminated with bird feces
- Avoid visiting poultry farms
There is currently no evidence to suggest humans can be infected with the avian flu through the consumption of poultry products.
Health and poultry professionals will be monitoring the situation closely to prevent further outbreaks and spread.
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