Poultry to be kept indoors for avian influenza

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 29.11.2016 15.19
Press release

Avian influenza type H5 has been found in the Åland Islands. Under a decree issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, poultry is to be protected from contact with wild birds.

To prevent the spreading of the avian influenza virus, poultry must be protected from any contact with wild birds between 1 December and 31 May. Poultry had already been ordered kept indoors 1 March– 31 May but, due to the infection spreading via wild birds in Europe, from now on the period will start on 1 December. 

During this autumn the incidence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Europe has been exceptionally high, both in wild birds and poultry. Cases have also been found close to Finland, several in Denmark and now also in Sweden, where a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza was reported both in a wild bird and in poultry on 23 November 2016. The bird found dead yesterday in the Åland Islands was found to be infected by highly pathogenic avian influenza. The type of the virus is not yet known.

According to the decree, poultry must either be kept indoors or in an outdoor area protected with a sufficiently close meshed net. The aim is to prevent contact between poultry and wild aquatic birds as the latter may carry avian influenza. The virus may spread from wild birds to poultry if the birds are in direct or indirect contact with each other. The protective regulations do not apply to free-flying pigeons, zoos and permanent animal exhibitions. The local municipal or provincial veterinary officer must be notified of any birds kept outdoors. Notifications of poultry kept in sufficiently protected outdoor areas are to be submitted by 15 December 2016.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 has not caused illness in humans. Globally there has been an elevated risk of avian influenza for more than ten years now. Should a poultry farm be infected with a highly pathogenic avian influenza, the authorities will make sure that only products that are fully safe will come to the market. There have been no cases of humans infected with avian influenza via eggs or poultry meat, but the virus has only spread to humans in close contact with an infected bird. 

Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Katri Levonen, Ministerial Adviser, katri.levonen(at)mmm.fi, tel. +358 295 162 385

Animals and plants