Avian flu has appeared in a hobby poultry owner in the canton of Zurich.
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In this context, the Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs (OSAV) has ordered, in consultation with the cantons concerned, nationwide measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
For some time now, the bird flu virus had been present in a large part of Europe, which increased the risk of wild birds bringing the epizootic to Switzerland. Last week, the canton of Zurich announced the first two cases of the disease, identified in Seuzach.
Given the risks, the FSVO orders, in collaboration with the cantons concerned, preventive measures applicable throughout Switzerland. The main objective is to avoid any contact between wild birds and domestic poultry.
As of Monday, November 28, 2022, all poultry keepers in Switzerland will be required to comply with the following rules:
• Only allow poultry out in areas safe from wild birds. If this is not possible, ensure that wild birds cannot gain access to poultry feeding and drinking areas. Protect exit areas and pools by installing fences or close-meshed netting.
• Separate the hens from the geese and ducks.
• Prevent the virus from being introduced into the rearing unit through people or equipment: therefore limit access to the poultry house to what is strictly necessary and install a hygiene lock. Wear clean shoes and clothes, wash and sanitize your hands before entering the barn.
Poultry markets and exhibitions will be prohibited.
These measures, which apply to all owners of poultry, even amateurs, will be in force until at least February 15, 2023.
The animal welfare contributions for "Particularly animal-friendly housing systems" and " Regular outings in the open air" will be guaranteed and the denomination "Free-range breeding" may still be used.
Registration of poultry farms has been compulsory since 1 January 2010, even for people who keep only a few animals.
According to current knowledge, the H5N1 virus strain is only transmissible to humans in extremely rare cases and only after very close contact. Poultry products, such as chicken meat and eggs, are safe to eat. For safety reasons, avoid touching wild birds found dead. ■