GERMANY - Following a new outbreak of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza at a duck farm in Lower Saxony, the federal agriculture ministry has ordered a veterinary inspection of all ducks and geese before transportation.
In a Follow-Up Report dated 21 December, the German veterinary authority has reported two new 'outbreaks' of highly pathogenic avian flu of the H5N8 subtype to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
On 20 December, a wild duck at Aken in Saxony Anhalt in central Germany tested positive for the virus.
The same day, the virus was confirmed as the cause of two cases of the disease on a farm with 10,102 birds in Neubörger, which is in the Emsland region of Lower Saxony. This state is in the west of the country and borders the Netherlands.
The report indicates all the poultry there have been culled and safely disposed of.
The federal agriculture ministry describes the affected premises as a conventional duck fattening farm.
The Minister, Christian Schmidt, has signed an order requiring all duck and goose owners to have a veterinary inspection of all their birds before any movements. Birds may not be moved before a negative result is confirmed, after which, the birds must be moved within seven days.
The order came into effect at midnight today, 23 December, and will remain in place until 31 March 2015.
Poultry producers have already informed the ministry that they will comply with the new inspection requirements.
Minister Schmidt explained that, unlike turkeys and chickens, ducks and geese show no signs of disease. This means that there is a high risk of spreading the infection through vehicles and people.
He added that the measures are there to protect the nation's livestock.
Last week, continues the Ministry, the avian influenza virus was confirmed in a turkey flock in Lower Saxony, followed by the duck flock in the same state (as described above). There was no contact between the two farms, and experts think the most likely method of transmission of the virus is on migrating birds. How it infected domestic poultry is under investigation.
The Ministry confirms that there is no evidence for the transmission of this virus to people. Consumers should take the normal precautions during food preparation and only eat poultry meat that has been cooked through. Raw meat scraps should be disposed of with household waste and not with organic waste or in compost.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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