Highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak at a turkey farm in Hungary

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Hungary has reported a highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak at a turkey farm in Totkomlos, Hungary on November 4, 2016.

The animal health authorities immediately placed the affected holding under restrictions, and protection and surveillance zones have been established around the infected area. As increasing mortality was observed, samples were taken to the National Reference Laboratory on October 31, which raised attention to the possible HPAI infection on the same day. The local animal health authority immediately performed an epidemiological check and restrictive measures were ordered based on the suspicion of infection. The results of laboratory examination confirmed the presence of the HPAI subtype H5N8 in the samples.

The destruction of flocks had been started on November 2 and was finished on November 3. In compliance with the EU and national legislation, a protection zone with a radius of 3 km and a 10 km radius surveillance zone have been established around the infected holding. Investigation into the origin of the infection is ongoing; however the proximity of wetlands and migratory birds observed close to the holding suggest that wild birds could be a possible source of infection. Despite the fact that the Government of Hungary and the related product councils and associations have done a lot for a sustainable growth in production and exports of turkeys since the earlier case was found in Hungary in February 2015, the new HPAI outbreak will cause difficulties for the sector.

The infected Bekes County is one of the biggest turkey producing regions in Hungary with significant processing capacity and now it is excluded from international trade. In addition, several non-EU countries (e.g. Japan, Israel, and the South African Republic) introduced a temporary import ban on turkeys from all parts of Hungary based on their risk assessment and after the related notification of outbreak to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). However, the zoning principle of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (article 10.4) would make exports possible from other counties of Hungary.