Bird flu has struck the European Union after a break of six months. Officials from Hungary reported the outbreak of bird flu or avian influenza// in a holding of 3000 geese, and the death of 40 geese. The remaining geese have been culled.
Though the virus has been confirmed as the deadly H5N1 strain, samples are being sent to the EU’s laboratory in Britain.
Stringent measures are on to control the spread. A protection zone of 3 km and a surveillance zone of 10 km have been set up. No movement of poultry is permitted except to the slaughterhouse, in order to minimize contact with wild fowl.
Strict movement controls are in place in the country, and there is a prohibition on gatherings of poultry and other birds. On- farm bio-security measures will be strengthened, according to officials.
The World Health Organization is tracking the spread of the virus in case it evolves to become more easily transmitted among people, causing a pandemic.
The disease in birds creates more opportunity for human infection and increases the risk of the virus changing into a pandemic form.
H5N1 has infected people in 10 countries and killed 79 people worldwide last year, more than the fatalities of the previous three years combined, according to the WHO.
The EU has not reported any human cases yet.
The risk to human health from poultry in industrialized farms is considerably lower because of better biosecurity and as a result of the successful EU policy of ensuring that poultry is kept apart from wild birds on larger farms.
A pandemic can start when a novel influenza A-type virus, to which almost no one has natural immunity, emerges and begins spreading.
Epidemiologists believe that a pandemic in 1918, which may have killed as many as 50 million people, began when an avian flu virus jumped to people from birds.
As of now the most recent pandemic was the Hong Kong flu, which k
illed a million people in 1968.
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