A German government research center has said Europe is experiencing the worst avian flu outbreak ever.
The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), the federal research institute for animal health, said that new cases are detected every day and that the disease doesn’t just affect the wild bird population.
“We are currently experiencing the strongest bird flu epidemic of all time in Germany and Europe,” said the center of 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 cases of avian flu have also been detected in Canada, India, and East Asia.
Between October 1 and December 29 of this year, 394 cases of the virus were detected in wild birds in Germany; this included swans, seagulls, ducks and geese.
FLI said the cases were mainly discovered in coastal areas.
The institute said that 46 infections were found on German poultry farms.
According to the FLI, 675 infections in wild birds and 534 infections in farm animals were confirmed across Europe.
The researchers found that this year cases of avian flu were detected in mammals, including red foxes in the Netherlands and Finland and seals in Sweden and Germany.
FLI said the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 strain is the most dominant, but the H5N8 type has also been detected to a lesser extent.
The institute urged poultry owners to be vigilant and ensure compliance with biosecurity measures on their premises.
Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue said the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Navy (DAFM) is continuing to monitor the situation closely and be in close contact with stakeholders.
Several cases of HPAI H5N1 have been identified in the Republic of Ireland; four in Co. Monaghan and one in Co. Cavan.
“My priority is to work proactively with the sector to ensure commercial herds are protected,” said McConalogue.
Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots also noted that the UK and Ireland were experiencing “their worst bird flu outbreak yet”.