Bird Flu Deja Vu

Dec 21, 2021

European governments are grappling with an explosion of bird flu that’s hitting everywhere—from backyard flocks and bird sanctuaries to large commercial farms.

This year’s outbreak is a fowl new strain, and the UK’s chief veterinarian is concerned with year-over-year outbreak growth. Biosecurity is the primary weapon against bird flu.

The flu has hit wild birds hard, too: swans, curlews, herring gulls, and more have all been found dying or dead. Migratory birds are a big spreader of the disease.

The good news? Food safety risk is low—as long as folks aren’t trying to eat poultry and eggs cooked to medium-rare.

Here’s the country by country breakdown:

Bulgaria: 7,000 ducks were culled in the village of Malak Dol after an avian influenza type A outbreak there.

France: Foie gras farmers are having a bad case of deja vu after the H5N1 bird flu showed up on a duck farm in the southwestern part of the country last week. The flu decimated flocks just a year ago. All ducks at the farm where the outbreak started, plus birds at seven surrounding farms, were slaughtered to stem the spread.

Britain: In the midst of the country’s worst ever outbreak, 500,000 birds have been culled since October 27th. An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was declared in November in the UK, requiring all bird owners—even backyard bird farmers—to keep their flocks inside.