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Avian Flu Outbreak Expected in Europe and Asia

By Rose C
Dec 01, 2016 05:30 AM EST
Avian Flu Outbreak Expected in Europe and Asia
Incidents of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have increased across Europe and Asia.
(Photo : VCG/Getty Images)

It's back. Incidents of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have increased across Europe and Asia. The World Organization for Animal Health claimed that Europeans should expect more avian flu cases this season.

Deputy Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Matthew Stone told Reuters that North America, especially the United States where bird flu last year led to the death of about 50 million poultry, should also prepare for new cases.

"From the level of exposure that we have seen to date I would expect more detections, hopefully only in wild birds but it is certainly possible that the presence of this virus in wild birds will create an opportunity for exposure to domestic poultry," Stone said.

In a report from New Scientist, Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands explained that this strain is different from the 2014 strain since it has picked up new genes from flu strains in wild birds, making it more deadly to more species.

In Netherlands alone, around 190,000 ducks infected with the avian flu were destroyed in attempts of containing the virus. According to the Finnish Food Authority, the first case of the H5N8 was detected in Finland.

According to the European Center for Disease (ECDC), they are conducting an ongoing monitoring and testing of wild birds and domestic poultry in the EU to detect and possibly control the virus from sweeping the rest of Europe. To date, ECDC claims that no human infections with this virus have ever been reported worldwide.

Commonly known as Avian Flu, outbreaks had been reported in European countries such as Austria, Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland. The pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza is a strain that can infect waterfowl, other migratory birds, and poultry. When passed to humans, it can prove to be lethal.

During an outbreak of the H5N1 virus in 2003, the virus has caused a large mortality rate in Asia and Egypt. In those cases, people who came in contact with infected poultry or birds caused severe diseases but evidence of transmission from one person to another has never been proven.

"The OIE is very concerned about the impact on our member countries and particularly those where there has been exposure to domestic poultry and where significant control operations are underway," he added.

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