Bird flu virus re-emerges in northern Israel

REUTERS – Israel has reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu virus in the north of the country, two months after declaring a series of similar outbreaks earlier this year had been resolved, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 virus caused the death of 1,000 10-week-old turkeys on a farm in Bezet near the border with Lebanon, the OIE reported on its website, citing data submitted by Israel’s ministry of agriculture.

The outbreak follows similar ones in January and February, the first in nearly three years, which prompted the death or culling of over 300,000 birds, mainly turkeys.

But the farm ministry had said in a report to the Paris-based OIE on March 1 that the event had been resolved.

In addition to the animals that died of the disease, about 12,000 turkeys were culled in Bezet due to the outbreak, the ministry said.

High pathogenic H5N1 bird flu first infected humans in 1997 in Hong Kong. It has since spread from Asia to Europe and Africa and has become entrenched in poultry in some countries, causing millions of poultry infections and several hundred human deaths.

The strain is different to the H5N2 strain that has been spreading in the United States, leading to the death or culling of nearly 30 million birds so far.


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