The Czech Republic has started disposing of 80,000 laying hens after the country reported an outbreak of bird flu of the H5N1 type at a poultry farm in Libotenice last week.
Out of the 188,000 birds from the farm, located some 60 kilometres north of Prague, more than half of them died over the Christmas holidays, followed by an additional 8,000 since December 27.
Veterinarians estimate that they will cull the rest of the poultry and destroy around one million eggs by Wednesday.
According to the State Veterinary Administration, this is one of the largest outbreaks in the history of the country.
“This is, I think, the largest outbreak that actually arose in the country, as there were originally around 200,000 animals intended to be put down,” said veterinarian Lenka Hanusova at the State Veterinary Administration.
The H5N1 subtype of the disease, potentially transmissible to humans, was confirmed at the farm on December 23.
Since the first signs of bird flu, eggs have remained at the farm and none have entered the market.
The Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic estimates the damage at CZK 20 million (€802,005).
Another outbreak of bird flu has been detected in Hovorany, in the south Moravian region of the Czech Republic.
On Monday, the owner of a pheasant farm reported the mass death of about 1,000 birds.
The State Veterinary Administration subsequently confirmed that the pheasants had contracted the bird flu virus and that another 5,000 birds will be put down.
‘We have never seen that before’
Across the border in Slovenia, the Balkan country also reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus at a small poultry farm in the east of the country, the Slovenian Food Safety and Veterinary Services Agency (UVHVVR) said on Monday.
The first death was that of a swan, of which post mortem tests revealed the bird had died of avian influenza.
“The swan was already dead,” said Breda Hrovatin of the government’s Sector for Animal Health and Welfare. “Today we received the test results. We determined that this swan had tested positive for avian influenza.”
“This is the first such case in Slovenia. We have never seen that before even though we have had some experience with wild birds,” Hrovatin added.
On Tuesday, a small farm in northeastern Slovenia was placed in quarantine after a case of bird flu was detected.
Slovenian authorities also confirmed that the outbreak at a small farm in Slovenska Bistrica was under control, after a veterinarian reported an increase in deaths of poultry at the farm on Sunday.
The authorities said that all necessary measures had been implemented in infected areas and called on farmers to immediately report any new suspicious cases.
Many cases of H5N1 bird flu have been reported across Europe since the beginning of December, and veterinarians believe the virus will continue to circulate through migrator birds.