LLEIDA – The highly contagious H5N1 strain of bird flu is already widespread in Northern and Central Europe. The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that experts detected the first bird flu cases in Spain.
Experts detected several cases in swans and a stork found dead in the Segre river in Lérida, Catalonia. According to the National Avian Influenza Control Programme, vigilance will increase after these first cases. Authorities will closely monitor wild birds within a radius of three kilometres from the place where they found the first bird flu cases. However, this will not yet affect the transport and trade of live birds or bird products.
The H5N1 subtype is the predominant virus strain in the current wave of infections sweeping Europe. Between August 1 and December 27 last year, 1,199 bird flu outbreaks were recorded in 27 countries. Despite being the first case, health authorities see Spain as highly vulnerable due to major outbreaks in neighbouring France and Portugal.
Series of control measures
That is why the Ministry of Agriculture has introduced a series of control measures. Under which is a ban on various wild birds. Furthermore, a ban on the breeding of ducks and geese with other types of poultry. Finally a ban on the breeding of birds in the open air. In addition, poultry farmers should not use water sources to which wild birds also have access, unless the water received treatment against avian influenza virus variants.