Poultry farm inspections launched after Polish bird flu outbreak

Photo: Tereza Brázdová / Czech Radio

The Czech State Veterinary Administration has launched a special inspections drive targeting farms to which poultry is transported from and to Poland, Czech Television reported. The agency’s chief, Zbyněk Semerád, says the move is aimed at preventing an outbreak of bird flu in this country.

Photo: Tereza Brázdová / Czech Radio
The checks will take place across the entire Czech Republic and are set to continue until the end of January at the earliest, officials said.

The follow the news that the H5N8 avian influenza virus was discovered last week at five farms in Poland, which is the largest producer of poultry in the European Union.

The Czech minister of agriculture, Miroslav Toman, said on Wednesday that his department had, in conjunction with the State Veterinary Administration, warned last week of the increased risk of bird flu from Poland.

Breeders have been told to do their utmost to ensure that birds living freely do not contaminate poultry or their feed or drinking water.

Zbyněk Semerád called on all breeders not to allow people unconnected to poultry farms to enter them. He said any visitors should change their clothing and be subject to other precautionary measures as people and vehicles represented a risk.

Under the new measures, vets will take samples at any farms where five or more birds die at the same time.

In addition, commercial breeders are obliged by law to report a fall of 20 percent or more in feed or water consumption among their poultry, a decline in egg production of over five percent in a two-day period and if death rates increase by over three percent a week.

Avian flu was discovered in this country after a decade’s absence in 2017, when the disease was also affecting other parts of Europe. Millions of birds had to be put down around the continent at that time.

Zbyněk Semerád, photo: Jana Přinosilová / Czech Radio
In the Czech Republic some 98,000 birds were killed while some 40 epicenters of the disease were discovered.

The Central Disease Control Commission, which met on Wednesday, also discussed the African swine fever virus, which is not dangerous to humans.

The first outbreak of African swine fever in the Czech Republic in June 2017 and the last known case was in February 2018.

The Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday that the disease had occurred in Poland in November, with one epicenter located less than 70 kilometres from the Czech border. Incidences have also been reported in Romania and Bulgaria.

Minister Toman said that while African swine fever had been eradicated in the Czech Republic, it was likely to return given its occurrence in nearby states. It is perhaps only a matter of time, the minister said.