Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic is the latest Central European country to be hit by an outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu.
On Saturday, the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) announced that an H5N8 virus outbreak had been reported on a small poultry farm in the village of Štěpánov nad Svratkou in the Vysočina region, some 150 km southeast of Prague.
It’s the first time the H5N8 virus is detected in the Czech Republic in three years.
According to local authorities, the virus was most likely imported by wild water birds. It contaminated the entire flock of 12 hens bred on the farm and killed half of them. The rest of the animals were culled to keep the virus from spreading.
The veterinary agency announced it had immediately taken precautionary measures in the surrounding area to avoid other outbreaks and dissemination.
“The most important thing to do now is to prevent further spread of the disease”, Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman (CSSD) said.
Apart from the Czech Republic, bird flu cases have also recently been reported in several countries throughout the region, including in Poland, where thousands of geese are set to be culled, as well as Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. In all the cases, the outbreaks are linked to the H5N8 strain.
The H5N8 bird flu strain is a highly pathogenic sub-type of the Influenza A virus. A large-scale H5N8 outbreak was last reported in Europe in the second half of 2016, when millions of birds had to be culled, before it spread to Asia.