Bird flu found at turkey coop in central Israel

Science and Health

Turkeys at a coop in Tsor’a in central Israel were found to be infected with bird flu, the Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday.

The coop houses 10,500 birds in four buildings. All coops within 10 km of the farm were placed under lockdown. The Agriculture Ministry called on Israelis raising pet birds and backyard poultry to keep the birds inside buildings.

The outbreak is the second reported in the past month and the fifth reported in Israel this season. The Agriculture Ministry did not note which strain of the bird flu the turkeys were infected with.

Earlier this month, a case of H5N1 avian influenza was found in a marbled teal in the central Israeli city of Yehud.

The first outbreak of the season was reported in September at a petting zoo including over 200 peacocks, geese, ducks, guinea fowls, chickens, doves, and parakeets in Sde Ya’akov in northern Israel.

Test tubes labelled ”Bird Flu” and eggs are seen in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

Between that outbreak and the latest outbreak, two additional outbreaks were reported, including an outbreak at a chicken coop containing 20,000 birds at Allonim in northern Israel, not far from Sde Ya’akov. The second outbreak was reported on October 10, when a black stork was found to be infected at Ein HaMifratz between Haifa and Acre.

Global outbreak of avian influenza continues

Since 2021, Europe, the Americas, and several other locations around the world have been suffering from a nearly continuous outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza which has been described as “the largest-ever” outbreak on the three continents. The virus has affected tens of millions of birds and thousands of mammals across the world.


Two weeks ago, the Wageningen Bioveterinary Research Institute at Wageningen University reported that a new variant of the H5N1 subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza had been spotted in the Netherlands.

The variant was spotted in Renswoude in the central Netherlands. It is similar to other versions of the H5N1 subtype that has been spreading in Europe and the Americas since 2021, but includes a new version of the PB1 gene segment in the virus. The new PB1 segment seems to be the result of the virus mixing with a low pathogenic version of avian influenza, according to the research institute.

The new variant has also been spotted in several dead wild ducks and geese found in the Netherlands since November. It is unclear as of yet if the reassortment of the PB1 segment has changed any properties of the virus, such as pathogenicity, transmissibility, severity, etc.