Society 07/01/2022

All poultry in Catalonia to be forced indoors after 5 cases of bird flu

Surveillance intensified after four dead swans and a stork found in river Segre, close to Soses

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Two storks have nested in the bell tower of the church of Santo Martí in Lleida. The presence of these birds is increasing.

BarcelonaFive birds infected with bird flu have been found in Segrià. Specifically, Nature Protection officials have located four swans and a dead stork in the river Segre, in the municipality of Soses, and after carrying out a PCR for the H5 subtype of bird flu, it came back positive. As a result of the finding, officials in Aragon and Catalonia have intensified the passive surveillance of wild birds in a 10-km perimeter around the detected outbreak. In turn, veterinarians from the Generalitat and the Aragonese government are also visiting commercial bird farms within this radius, and poultry farms in the area are being asked to maximise biosecurity measures to avoid possible transmission of the disease to domestic birds. In the next few days, the Generalitat plans to approve a resolution that will involve all poultry reared outdoors to be isolated as a preventive measure.

The finding, on December 22, is part of the intensification of passive surveillance of wild birds included in the state surveillance programme against bird flu in Spain as a result of the increased risk due to the recent evolution of this disease's epidemiological situation in northern and central Europe. In fact, as the death of the five birds in Soses coincides with the presence of the avian influenza virus in domestic farms in Portugal and southern France, the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to extend the biosecurity measures already applied in high-risk areas to areas of special surveillance throughout the State. These zones include the environments of Sant Llorenç de Montgai, Utxesa, the Estany d'Ivars and Vila-sana, the reservoirs of Sucs and Raimat, the confluence of the Segre and Cinca rivers, the Estany de Pals and the mouth of the Ter.

No restrictions on trade

The restrictions in force are the prohibition of using birds such as geese, ducks or swans as hunting lure, the breeding of ducks and geese alongside other poultry species, the breeding of poultry in the open, the supply of water to poultry from tanks to which wild birds may have access or the presence of poultry in animal concentration centres. On the other hand, for the time being there will be no trade restrictions on the movement of live poultry or poultry products, so that the State should continue to be considered officially free of notifiable bird flu.

In turn, the Generalitat has decided to prepare a resolution in which these biosecurity measures are extended to all of Catalonia, whether or not they are risk areas. This resolution is expected to become final in the coming days and to be implemented until April 20, the period of greatest risk and influx of migrant birds from northern Europe. A similar approach was carried out in January last year when three storks and a wild goose were found dead with bid flu in the Empordà marshes.