HAMBURG: A bird flu outbreak in north Germany this week was of a new subtype called H5N5, the first time the strain has been confirmed on a German farm, the country’s national animal disease centre said yesterday. The H5N5 strain was found on a turkey farm in Germany in Steinburg in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute said, The H5N5 strain has been found previously in wild birds in the Netherlands, Italy, Montenegro and Italy and Croatia, the institute said. It has also been found in wild birds in Germany this week.

The institute is not changing its bird flu risk assessment, it said. There have been no recorded cases of H5N5 spreading to humans, it added. The contagious H5N8 bird flu strain has been found in hundreds of wild birds in Germany in recent weeks and isolated outbreaks on farms have been occurring despite tougher hygiene rules and orders to keep poultry indoors in high-risk areas.

But German outbreaks are at a much lower level than in France, where a mass culling of around 800,000 ducks was undertaken after bird flu hit southwest France, the country’s main foie gras producing region. A series of European countries as well as Israel have found cases of H5N8 bird flu in the past few weeks and some ordered poultry flocks be kept indoors to prevent the disease spreading. Different bird flu strains have also spread in Asia in recent weeks leading to the slaughter of millions of birds in South Korea and Japan, and some human infections in China. —Reuters