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Photo: Golli.

Bird Flu Confirmed in Iceland

Bird flu has been confirmed in three wild birds in Iceland in recent days: a pink-footed goose in Hornafjörður in Southeast Iceland, a raven in Skeiða in South Iceland, and a gannet in Selvogur, also in South Iceland. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) issued a statement about the presence of bird flu on Friday. But while poultry farmers are advised to take precautions to keep their chickens from becoming infected, the general public is not considered to be at risk for contracting the infection from consuming eggs or poultry.

MAST has activated its plan for responding to and preventing infectious diseases in birds.

Authorities have identified the bird flu variant in question to be H5N1. This variant is the most common one in neighbouring countries but has not been found to cause infections in humans. MAST emphasizes that eating eggs or poultry is not thought to pose any risk of infection for humans. People are, however, cautioned about interacting with or touching sick or dead birds. The public is asked to report dead birds whose cause of death is clearly not an accident of some kind on the MAST website so the agency can determine if samples and testing are needed.

Following MAST’s announcement, RÚV reported that hens at a farm in Skeiða (the town where the infected raven was found) showed symptoms of the bird flu and were slaughtered as a result. Samples were taken from the culled poultry and sent for testing; results were still pending at time of writing. Poultry farmers and bird owners are urged to keep their birds under a roof and fenced in, so as to prevent infection from wild birds.

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