Budapest, November 9 (MTI) – A recently identified bird flu strain has spread from wild birds to poultry farming, and Hungary is among the countries where the risk of infection could last until the spring of 2017, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned.
The H5N8 strain was first identified in wild game in Tuva Republic, south-west Russia, less than two months ago, and it is likely to spread in south-western direction along the birds’ autumn migration route, FAO officials told MTI on Wednesday.
H5N8 infections have so far been reported in Poland, Kerala State in India, as well as Hungary.
An infected dead mute swan was identified late October by Lake Feher in Hungary’s Csongrád County, a favourite resting spot of migratory birds, Budapest-based FAO farming specialist Andriy Rozstalnyy told MTI.
Hungarian officials have confirmed suspicions of bird flu, saying it was probably the same strain as the one identified in Russia, which probably spread further on to India.
The pattern in which the H5 subtype has appeared suggests that migratory birds are potential virus carriers through their annual journeys. The recent H5N8 cases have added up to the fourth officially confirmed infection wave spanning several continents since 2005.
FAO officials said affected countries and their neighbours should track the spread of the virus and tighten biological security measures on poultry farms.
All countries located along duck-type bird migration routes, including Middle East countries, EU states, Western Africa, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and South Asia, are potentially affected, officials said, adding that it is impossible to predict where the next case would be identified and whether the birds in question would be wild birds or poultry.
The H5N8 strain is not a danger to humans, officials said, adding that the type A human flu caused by the bird flu virus has not been associated with this strain so far.
Seven non-EU-member countries have banned the import of poultry from Hungary following an H5N8 outbreak at a Hungarian turkey farm in Bekes, the Hungarian food safety authority Nebih said on Wednesday.
So far Canada, Serbia, the South African Republic, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore announced a full or partial ban of Hungarian poultry imports.
There are no export restrictions to other European Union members with the exception of the protection and surveillance zones established by Nebih.
The Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture reported another H5N8 outbreak at a duck farm in Kiskunmajsa, Bács-Kiskun County, on Wednesday.
The Kiskunmajsa infection marks another H5N8 outbreak following an H5N8 case reported at a turkey farm in Békés County on Nov 3.