A German government research centre has said that Europe is experiencing its worst-ever bird flu outbreak.
The Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), Germany’s Federal Research Institute for Animal Health said that new cases are being detected daily and the disease is not just affecting the wild bird population.
“We are currently experiencing the strongest avian flu epidemic ever in Germany and Europe,” the centre told the German news agency, dpa.
“There is no end in sight, the countries affected range from Finland to the Faroe Islands to Ireland, from Russia to Portugal.”
The researchers said that cases of bird flu have also been detected in Canada, India and East Asia.
Between October 1 and December 29 this year, there were 394 cases of the virus detected in wild birds in Germany; this included swans, seagulls, ducks and geese.
FLI said that the cases were primarily detected in coastal areas.
The institute said that 46 infections were identified at German poultry farms.
During the timeframe, FLI said that 675 infections were confirmed in wild birds and 534 infections in livestock across Europe.
The researchers noted that cases of bird flu were identified in mammals this year, including red foxes in the Netherlands and Finland and seals in Sweden and Germany.
FLI said that the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 strain is the most dominant, but the H5N8 type has also been detected to a lesser degree.
The institute urged poultry owners to be vigilant and ensure compliance with biosecurity measures at their premises.
Earlier this month, Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue said that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is continuing to closely monitor the situation and is maintaining close contact with stakeholders.
Several cases of HPAI H5N1 have been detected in the Republic of Ireland; four in Co. Monaghan and one in Co. Cavan.
“My priority is working proactively with the sector to ensure that commercial flocks are protected,” McConalogue said.
Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots also noted that the UK and Ireland were experiencing their “worst outbreak of avian influenza to date”.