The H5N1 virus has killed a number of birds at a poultry farm in Southern Germany. As a result over 160,000 birds will be killed as a precaution. This is not the first time this deadly strain of avian flu has been detected in Germany.
Contaminated straw may be the culprit. Birds on a poultry farm that were found dead were also found to be infected with H5N1 or avian flu.
H5N1 is influenza A virus subtype that is highly contagious and mostly occurs in birds, H5N1 can be deadly. H5N1 virus does not usually infect people, but infections with these viruses have occurred in humans. Most of these cases have resulted from people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces.
This finding has resulted in the slaughter of 160,000 birds. This is not the first time the deadly H5N1 strain has appeared in Germany. In 2006, German experts from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute confirmed that a cat that was found in the island of Ruegen had tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus strain. This is the first non-bird-animal to have become ill with bird flu in the European Union.
Ducklings on a farm near Erlangen; in northern Bavaria were the victims this time. The presence of the H5N1 has been confirmed by a federal lab.
Over the past year several cases of the virus have surfaced among wild birds in Germany this year and just last month, a domestic goose in the east of the country was found to be infected.
Worldwide H5N1 virus has killed more than 190 people worldwide. H5N1 is still difficult for humans to catch, but the concern is that the virus will mutate into a form that will easily spread through the human population.