Bird flu found at central Israel farm in 4th outbreak this season

Science and Health

Chickens were found to be infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza at a farm next to Mishmar HaSharon, near Netanya, on Wednesday, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The affected farm contains about 128,000 birds. All coops within a 10-kilometer radius have been placed in quarantine and the Veterinary Service is conducting testing at all other farms in the area.

The Agriculture Ministry advised anyone who owns birds or poultry to keep the birds inside buildings and to prevent them from going outside in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Agriculture Ministry stressed that it is still safe to purchase poultry and eggs and, as usual, all poultry and eggs should be cooked to completion before consumption.

A sign warns about the avian influenza in an area of Randers, Denmark November 17, 2020 (credit: VIA REUTERS)

Bird flu continues to spread in Israel and around the world

The outbreak is the fourth reported outbreak in Israel this season.

Last week, an outbreak of the virus was discovered at a farm in Kfar Monash in central Israel containing 70,000 birds. The farm is operated by the same company that runs another farm in Beit Herut which was hit by an avian influenza outbreak last month and is located not far from the latest outbreak.

The first outbreak of the season was reported at a turkey slaughterhouse in Kibbutz Shluhot in northern Israel last month.

Late last year, a large outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza swept through Israel, with the Agriculture Ministry calling it one of the largest outbreaks in the world.

Additionally, for the first time, the virus caused a mass fatality event among wild birds last year, killing one million birds and 8,000 cranes in 20 hotspots across the country.

The new infection in Israel comes amid an ongoing outbreak in North America and Europe which began last year and has been described as “the largest-ever” outbreak on both continents.

The virus has also been increasingly detected in mammals, with a brown bear in Alaska found to have died due to the virus in November in the first such detection ever documented. The bear and a number of other bears found to have been infected with the virus were likely infected by eating sick birds.