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Germany reports second case of avian influenza

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A worker in a bio-hazard suit waits to disinfect a truck which is loaded with ducks culled for bird flu infection, at the exit of a poultry farm in southern Germany.

A new case of the H5N8 strain of bird flu, which is highly contagious among birds but has never been detected in humans, has been found in a wild goose in northern Germany.

“The H5N8 virus has been confirmed in a wild bird in [Germany’s eastern state of] Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,” German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“With that the suspicion is strengthened that wild birds are connected with the cases in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as well as in the Netherlands and Britain,” Schmidt added.

The minister also advised farmers in all German states to keep their animals in the stalls.

H5N8 was first confirmed in Germany on November 4 on a poultry farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It infected about 5,000 birds, of which 1,880 died.

On Saturday, health authorities in the Netherlands said they were in the process of culling 8,000 ducks in a bid to prevent the possible spread of bird flu as three farms have been infected by the viral disease.

H5N8 was previously confirmed only in Asia, but migrating birds transmitted it to several European locations, including a turkey farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a duck farm in Yorkshire, England, and several farms in the Netherlands.

In 2003, Dutch authorities were forced to destroy nearly 30 million birds in an effort to quash an outbreak of the H7N7 strain of avian flu.

Since first appearing in 2003, the H5N1 strain of the disease has claimed more than 400 lives, mainly in Southeast Asia.

H7N9, another strain of bird flu, has killed more than 170 people since emerging in 2013.


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