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Avian flu among wild birds detected

The number of bird flu infections in wild birds in Belgium is increasing. After a first infection of the H5N1 virus was discovered at the end of last week in Belgium, more specifically in the municipality of Schilde, seven new infections have been added this week. The new infections are located in West Flanders, Antwerp and Limburg. In two cases the highly pathogenic character has already been confirmed, the other studies are still ongoing.

Seven new infections with the H5N1 virus in wild birds have been detected in Belgium this week. In two cases Sciensano has also confirmed the highly pathogenic nature of the virus (H5N1). For the other five birds, this confirmation is still ongoing, but on the basis of what is already known, there is little doubt that it is also a highly pathogenic virus in them. The federal agency for the safety of the food chain (FASFC) announced this on Friday 19 November.

The new infections are located in West Flanders (Middelkerke and Ostend), Antwerp (Duffel, Kalmthout and Zandhoven) and Limburg (Bree and Zonhoven). They are waterfowl (ducks, geese and sandpipers) and a bird of prey.

No infections have yet been found in southern Belgium, but infected wild birds have already been found in northeastern France, about 70 kilometres from the border with Beglia and Luxembourg.

These findings indicate that virus is most likely circulating throughout Belgium in different species of wild birds. The risk of introduction of avian influenza in poultry has thus increased significantly as expected. It is therefore important to apply strictly the measures that came into force last Monday. These measures are intended to prevent the introduction of wild birds as much as possible.

Compared with the same period last year, avian flu has spread much more in Europe this season and, in particular, more infections have been observed in poultry. In particular northern Italy, where the virus is circulating in the turkey farm, stands out.

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