Europe Hit Hard By Bird Flu Epidemic; Thousands Of Chickens To Be Slaughtered

First Posted: Nov 15, 2016 02:38 AM EST

Several European nations are under attack by a severe bird flu epidemic with reports of outbreaks of the deadly and highly contagious H5N8 virus that are coming from different parts of Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Updated reports are suggesting that traces of the virus are also being found in Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia.

According to Mail Online, the outbreak seems to be particularly serious in Germany where the state of Schleswig-Holstein has confirmed one outbreak at a farm housing 30,000 chickens and 9,000 turkeys, all of which will now be culled. As a precautionary measure, the government has also sealed off an area of 1.2 square miles around Grumby.

Meanwhile, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety has also confirmed a second outbreak at a chicken farm in Vorarlberg, located near the German and Swiss borders. The fate of more than 4,000 birds currently living in these facilities seems bleak as the authorities prepare to slaughter them to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

However, the move may have come a bit too late as another Austrian poultry farm close to that chicken farm was reportedly tested positive for H5N8.

Unfortunately, for people whose livelihood depends on these poultry farms, the outbreak has hit the region at the worst possible time.

"Christmas is when we see our main turnover. We have to kill about 1,000 animals," said Klaus Flatz, an Austrian farmer, reports Express.

"For us this is a huge challenge to deal with both physically and mentally. We will have to see how we can cope with the situation economically."

Meanwhile, dead birds found along Lake Geneva in Switzerland have also been tested positive for the virus, indicating that it is sweeping through the neighboring countries, too. The challenge for the authorities will be to prevent migratory birds to spread the disease to farm poultries.

The H5N8 does not directly affect humans -- at least, not so far -- but the strain is virulent in wild birds.

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