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Virus  Avian flu alert raised to red 

hens

Poultry farmers need to be especially vigilant 

(Keystone / A3512/_roland Weihrauch)

The Swiss authorities have issued a red alert over avian flu and have recommended bird protection measures.

The move comes after a series of outbreaks of the disease have been reported in Europe in past weeks. Such outbreaks have in the past led to major disruptions and slaughtering programmes in Europe's poultry industry,

Bird flu cases have appeared in the four central European countries of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic since the end of last year. A case of H5N8 bird flu was confirmed in a wild bird in the neighbouring country of Germany in late January. The virus, which is highly infectious, is thought to have originated in Russia.

A red alert is the highest level of alert, issued when there is a considerable danger of an animal disease occurring in Switzerland.

Higher risk

The Food Safety and Veterinary Office said in its Radar Bulletinexternal link for January, published online on Thursday, there was a higher risk for avian flu being transmitted to birds in Switzerland due to winter migratory birds. It recommended checking and if necessary improving farm hygiene and biosafety measures.

Officials said that intensive trade relations in the European poultry sector meant that the virus could spread further. It called on the public to be alert and to report ill or dead wild birds to the local wildlife authorities. It is important for tests to be carried out.

The last time extra measures were needed to protect against avian flu was in late 2016 after cases were found in wild birds. They lasted four months. The last confirmed case of bird flu in Switzerland was at the end of December 2017

Cooped up Bird flu measures tightened across Switzerland

Protective measures against bird flu are being introduced nationwide after cases in wild birds were found by Lake Geneva and Lake Constance. ...

Keystone-SDA/FSVO/Reuters/ilj

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