Bird flu confirmed in Daugavpils

Avian influenza, or bird flu, has been detected in wild birds dead in Daugavpils, representatives of the Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) told LETA on May 5.

The first results of laboratory investigations have been received from the Scientific Institute for Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment "Bior", which show the presence of the avian influenza virus gene in seven out of 11 dead wild birds from the Daugavpils Esplanade pond.

The PVD indicated that the isolated avian influenza virus type was H5N1. This type has also been identified in Latvia in previous years. Currently, H5N1 is the dominant type of avian influenza in other European countries. The laboratory investigation is still ongoing to determine the pathogenicity of the H5N1 virus type of avian influenza.

The PVD calls on the population not to visit the area and not to touch dead birds in order not to endanger their health and prevent further spread of the disease. The PVD also asks not to allow domestic animals to access the area and not to bring sick and emaciated wild birds home, to animal shelters or veterinary clinics, as avian influenza cannot be treated.

As reported earlier, there were fears that avian influenza may be present in Daugavpils after the Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) received information about a mass die-off of black-headed gulls at the Esplanade pond in Latvia's second-largest city. 

The PVD suspected that this could be related to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds, and tests were carried out as a matter of urgency to establish if this is indeed the case.

The PVD calls on residents not to visit the mentioned territory and not to touch dead birds, in order not to endanger their health and prevent the further spread of the disease.

In addition, the PVD calls on poultry keepers to observe biosecurity requirements more carefully than ever and to immediately inform their veterinarian or the PVD about illness or sudden death of poultry.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza is an acute, highly contagious infectious disease of birds characterized by high mortality. Reservoirs and ponds are regarded as common distribution points of the virus for wild birds, especially waterfowl, which can develop the disease without characteristic symptoms. Poultry can become infected through contact with infected wild birds. Birds can also be infected via contaminated water, feed or objects  such as shoes, clothing and equipment which carry the virus.

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