Brussels, 17 March 2005
The Swedish authorities have informed the European Commission today of a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5, strongly suspected (but not yet confirmed) to be H5N1, in a mallard (duck) on a game farm near the town of Oskarshamn, on the eastern coast of Sweden. Samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory in Weybridge to confirm is this is the Asian strain of the H5N1 virus. The affected farm is located within the surveillance zone which had already been established in response to a confirmed case of avian influenza in wild birds on 28 February. The Swedish authorities are now applying the necessary measures laid down in the Avian Influenza Directive and Decision 2006/135/EC on avian influenza in domestic poultry (see IP/06/180). All birds on the farm (around 500 mallard and 150 pheasants) will be killed and destroyed over the coming hours, the control and monitoring of other holdings in the vicinity will be stepped up, and rigorous bio-security measures, such as disinfection must be being carried out. No birds have been sent for slaughter or dispatched from the infected farm in the past weeks and the Swedish veterinary authorities appear to have the situation under full control.
The H5 virus was detected in the Swedish farm through the increased surveillance measures which were in place in the surveillance zone, in line with Commission Decision 2006/115/EC. Interestingly, the virus has only been found so far in a single mallard and the other birds on the farm appear to be in good health. In order to understand the situation better, further testing will be carried out on the birds on the farm following slaughter. This is the second suspected or confirmed outbreak of avian influenza H5N1 on a commercial farm in the EU, with the first being the outbreak on a turkey farm in the Department of Ain in France in late February. Both the French outbreak and the suspected Swedish outbreak have occurred in areas where the special restrictions established by Decision 2005/115/EC were already in place due the detection of H5N1 avian influenza in wild birds in these areas.