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Sweden to cull 1.3 mln chicken after bird flu hits farm

Christian Fernsby |
An outbreak of bird flu has hit the southern municipality of Monsteras in Sweden's Kalmar County, and 1.3 million laying hens will now have to be culled and destroyed, the Swedish TT news agency reported on Monday.

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Topics: SWEDEN   

According to the report, an extensive spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N8 and H5N5 has been found on a farm in the municipality. A large flock of laying hens has been affected and the infection has spread further in the facility, which now leads to 1.3 million poultry having to be killed and destroyed.

"The stables are emptied, and the facility must be decontaminated and disinfected," the report said.

To carry out the work, the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) asked the Swedish Armed Forces for help.

According to the SVA, the virus can survive for months under optimal conditions, which makes decontamination and disinfection important. It is unclear, though, how the country's supply of eggs will be affected.

Since November, Sweden has had five confirmed cases of bird flu in domestic poultry herds. In addition to Kalmar County, neighboring Skane County has also been hit hard by a spread on four farms, where 1.4 million chicken have been culled.

"This year's virus variants are closely related to each other," Maria Noremark, acting deputy state epizootiologist at the SVA, told TT. "They are highly contagious and also cause very high mortality among domestic poultry." Restricted areas remain around the affected farms, according to the report.

Within the areas around the affected facilities in southern Sweden, Level 3 protection rules apply, under which domestic birds must be kept indoors to prevent contact with wild birds. How the virus got into the country is unclear and the spread of the infection is ongoing, the report added.