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Bird flu detected at German farm

November 6, 2014

Germany's veterinary institute has confirmed to DW that a dangerous strain of bird flu has been detected at a northeastern German farm. This is the first known case of H5N8 influenza on European soil.

Image: imago/momentphoto/Robert Michael

Over 30,000 turkeys were set to be slaughtered Thursday after a dangerous strain of bird flu was discovered at a farm in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

"H5N8 [influenza] has been found in at least one turkey at the farm in Heinrichswalde," said Elke Reinking, spokeswoman for the German veterinary research institute (FLI), in an interview with DW.

Reinking went on to say that turkeys at the farm had displayed symptoms over the weekend, and that it appeared the disease was spreading among the birds.

The highly infectious strain of H5N8 has never been detected in Europe before. It has mainly hit South Korea, where hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled on four different occasions in the past to prevent the disease from spreading.

Though the disease has never been fatal to humans, the FLI - which will be oversee the slaughter of some 31,000 turkeys at the Heinrichswalde farm - is not ruling out any potential danger: "We have to assume that every highly pathogenic virus can also represent a danger to humans," FLI president Thomas Mettenleider told the German press agency on Thursday.

It remains unclear how the virus reached German soil. The institute says it has sent four experts to Heinrichswalde to investigate the origins of the outbreak.

glb/ksb (DPA)