Czechs cull 140,000 birds in bird flu outbreak

Prague (AFP): Czech farmers have killed about 140,000 birds since the start of the year in a bid to halt the spread of a bird flu outbreak, the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) said on Wednesday.

The infected birds had the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu strain, which is potentially transmissible to humans.

“So far this year, we have confirmed 15 bird flu hotspots at non-commercial small farms and three in large commercial farms,” the SVS said on its website.

It also found the disease in four dead birds outside farms.

The three commercial farms, all in central Czech Republic, have had to cull 50,000 ducks and 90,000 chicken.

Three people, including a two-year-old girl, died from bird flu in Cambodia last year.

The recent detection of the disease in a number of mammals, including foxes, otters, minks, sea lions and even grizzly bears, has sparked concern that humans could be more at risk.

Bird flu has affected dozens of European countries since last August, according to data from the French animal health watchdog ESA.

French authorities raised the bird flu risk level to “maximum” in December, ordering breeders to keep poultry indoors.