Finland intensifies measures to combat avian influenza at fur farms
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland has added highly pathogenic avian influenza diagnosed in fur animals to the category of other animal disease to be combated. This designation will be implemented through an amendment to a decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza was diagnosed in fur animals in Finland in July 2023. The addition of highly pathogenic avian influenza in fur animals to the category of other animal disease to be combated gives the animal health authorities the right to take the necessary measures to eradicate the infection and prevent the spread of the disease. For example, they may order animals to be killed in order to eradicate the infection. Such orders are discretionary and are issued on a case-by-case basis.
Avian influenza is a diverse viral disease caused by type A influenza viruses that particularly affects aquatic birds. Avian influenza infections in humans are very rare, and no infections from one human to another or from mammals to humans have been found to date. The amendment to the decree will further reduce the risk of the disease becoming more communicable to humans.
International health organisations such as the WHO and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) are monitoring the situation in Finland in cooperation with the national authorities. The risk of a pandemic will increase if the infection starts to spread between mammals.
“The rapid measures enabled by the amendment to the decree will help prevent the spread of the disease between mammals and minimise the risk of the disease being transmitted to humans,” said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sari Essayah.
If the Finnish Food Authority orders fur animals to be killed in order to eradicate highly pathogenic avian influenza, the owners will be entitled to receive compensation from central government funds for the killed animals. The fair value of the animal will be paid as compensation. The central government will also bear the costs of the implementation of orders on the killing of animals, destruction of property and related cleaning and disinfection measures.
Kajsa Hakulin, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 361, email: firstname.lastname@example.org