The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) have released a joint statement warning against a strain of bird flu found in Europe — known as H5N8 — that is considered “highly pathogenic” and similar to the one that destroyed flocks of poultry in South Korea earlier this year, reports Reuters.
The strain has not been found in humans.
The threat is considered particularly high for poultry farmers “along the Black Sea and East Atlantic migratory routes of wild birds,” and thus places “poor countries, or states facing political turmoil, like [the] Ukraine” at the highest levels of risk, warned the OIE.
Regions in Germany considered at high risk for contact with migrating wild birds (thought to be carriers of the disease) have taken to keeping farm poultry indoors after the first case of H5N8 was confirmed in Germany earlier this month, and then weeks later appeared in three farms in the Netherlands.
"The new virus strain provides a stark reminder to the world that avian influenza viruses continue to evolve and emerge with potential threats to public health, food security and nutrition, to the livelihoods of vulnerable poultry farmers, as well as to trade and national economies," the organizations announced.