Chances are high that a severe strain of bird flu, detected in birds throughout Europe, will be carried to Iceland with migratory birds, RÚV reports. This is the assessment of a group of specialists at the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), the University of Iceland, the Keldur Institute for Experimental Pathology, and an infectious disease specialist. This particular strain is not known to have afflicted humans.
According to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, the H5N8 bird flu has spread rapidly in Europe since October of last year, in wild as well as domestic birds, including areas where Icelandic migratory birds spend the winter. If birds become infected shortly before flying across the ocean, they can reach Iceland before getting sick. What makes this strain different from the bird flu of 2006-2008 is that it’s more widespread among wild birds.
MAST advises bird owners to be prepared to house their fowls, or keep them fenced in under a roof to reduce the risk of infection. Furthermore, the public is asked to report to MAST should they notice any abnormal deaths in the bird population.
Soon, MAST will likely suggest to the authorities that increased measures be taken for infection control, as well as more measures in accordance with readiness level two, due to bird flu, when there is increased risk of a severe strain being carried to the country. In the event that bird flu is diagnosed in domestic fowls in the country, the readiness stage is raised to level three.
Bird flu is fatal to many of the infected birds, and if it’s detected in domestic fowls, or other confined birds, then all birds in that particular place must be put down and strict rules set regarding nearby farms in order to limit the spread of the disease.