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Spain: More than 50,000 mink slaughtered on a farm in A Coruña after H5N1 avian flu outbreak was detected - October 18, 2022

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  • Spain: More than 50,000 mink slaughtered on a farm in A Coruña after H5N1 avian flu outbreak was detected - October 18, 2022



    More than 50,000 mink slaughtered on a farm in A Coruña after a bird flu outbreak was detected
    The Xunta has transferred the case to the Public Health authorities and has prohibited the entry and exit of vehicles of people outside the farm
    18 10 22 | 19:45 | Updated at 19:51

    The Xunta de Galicia has decided to slaughter more than 50,000 specimens of mink from a farm located in the province of A Coruña after detecting an outbreak of avian flu, according to the Ministry of Rural Environment.

    It is, he explains, a subtype of virus that has been detected in the cases registered in Spain in the last year, both in domestic birds and in wild birds.

    The case was detected after the appearance on the farm of sick animals with respiratory symptoms, as well as an abnormal increase in mortality, so samples were taken for the diagnosis of various diseases, including that caused by the Sars- Cov-2, as well as the avian flu, he explains.

    As a result of these tests, two positive cases of influenza A (H5N1) were detected, which were reported to the Public Health authorities.

    After receiving the results, the farm, which has 8,369 breeding females and 43,617 weaned offspring, was immobilized by the veterinary services of the Ministry, determining the prohibition of entry and exit of animals and other materials that could carry the virus and the census of the animals present.

    The entry and exit of external vehicles and people from outside the farm was also restricted, in addition to reinforcing all biosecurity and cleaning and disinfection measures, as well as the adoption of others to minimize contact with farm personnel. the farm with the minks. Likewise, a survey was carried out to carry out the appropriate epidemiological studies...

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    Translation Google

    The outbreak of avian flu in a Spanish mink farm sets off alarm bells around the world

    Investigation of a case that occurred three months ago suggests that the virus jumped from wild birds and mutated in fur-farming, acquiring the ability to transmit between mammals.

    23 JAN 2023 - 23:20 Updated:24 JAN 2023 - 02:15 EST

    It's like a script for a disaster movie that everyone has already seen. Europe is going through the most devastating bird flu epidemic in its history, with more than 50 million poultry slaughtered in one year. At the beginning of autumn, seagulls and gannets killed by this virus appeared on the Galician beaches. Days later, at the beginning of October, American mink began to die with hemorrhagic pneumonia on a fur farm in Carral, a few minutes' drive from A Coruña. Mortality in this outbreak exceeded 4% in a single week. a scientific studynow suggests that the avian flu virus jumped from wild birds to mink and mutated on the farm, beginning to spread from mammal to mammal, failing to infect mask-wearing farm workers. The Galician outbreak has set off alarm bells across the planet. The Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans , who traced the origin of the covid pandemic for the World Health Organization (WHO), has issued a warning on her social networks: "We are playing with fire."

    Mink are susceptible to both bird flu and human flu, so these animals can act as "a shaker" in which viruses mix and more lethal versions emerge, the study, led by Montserrat , warns. Agüero , from the Central Veterinary Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, and his Italian colleague Isabella Monne , from the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Venice. The protagonist of the Galician outbreak is a highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus, with an unusual mutation called T271A, a disturbing characteristic that was already present in the swine flu virus.that caused a pandemic in humans in 2009. The health authorities of the Xunta de Galicia decided on October 18 to immediately kill the 52,000 mink on the farm, located outdoors and with easy access to wild animals.

    Virologists ' worst nightmare is the leap to humans of a deadly flu virus. The World Health Organization already warned in 2019, before the covid, that "the world is not prepared for a pandemic of virulent and rapidly transmitted respiratory pathogens." The institution then warned that a pandemic such as the 1918 flu could kill 80 million people today, "causing panic, destabilizing national security and seriously affecting the economy and trade."

    It's quite scary. We have never had such a big scare in Europe
    Elisa Pérez, virologist

    Virologist Elisa Pérez , an expert in emerging viruses at the Animal Health Research Center, is very concerned. “It's pretty scary. In Europe there had never been such an outbreak in mink, there were only a few cases described in China . We had never had such a big scare, ”she warns. Pérez calls for the closure of all mink farms as soon as possible. “What else has to happen?” she wonders.

    Before the covid pandemic, there were some 2,900 fur farms in the European Union, producing 27 million mink pelts each year, according to official industry figures. After the outbreaks of the new coronavirus in hundreds of farms in 2020, some countries, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, decreed massive closures. A report by European authorities estimated that there were 755 mink farms remaining active at the start of 2021, mainly in Finland, Poland, Lithuania and Greece. In Spain, that crisis caused some security measures to be implemented, such as the imposition of mandatory masks for workers.

    Bird flu spreads around the world. The virus has already settled in South America, a team of scientists from Argentina and Peru warned last week . On the Peruvian coasts, 22,000 wild birds died in just one month, especially pelicans and boobies. On the 9th, a nine-year-old girl from a village in Bolívar (Ecuador), admitted to the ICU after being in contact with chickens, became the first human case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Latin America. The World Health Organization warned Wednesday that the diversity of flu viruses jumping from animals to people is "alarming . "

    In Spain last year there were 37 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry, the last two in a farm with 150,000 laying hens in Guadalajara and in another with 1,500 geese in La Cistérniga (Valladolid), according to the count of the Ministry of Agriculture. . Two workers at the Guadalajara farm became infected with the virus, without developing symptoms. In the Carral outbreak, the 11 employees who were in contact with the minks remained in isolation for 10 days, despite having tested negative for avian flu.

    The virus is easily transmitted between birds, but only rarely does it pass from bird to human. Between people it has not yet managed to jump effectively, although the outbreak in mink in A Coruña suggests that the virus is capable of mutating and adapting rapidly to jumping from mammal to mammal. The Ministry of Health has called for "extreme precautionary measures" for people who have poultry, although the European health authorities continue to consider that the risk of contagion in the general population is "low" .

    The British doctor Jeremy Farrar , an expert in emerging diseases and recently appointed scientific director of the WHO, has also alerted the outbreak in Spain on his social networks. "The greatest risk for a devastating influenza pandemic is that an avian or other animal influenza virus infects an intermediate mammal and evolves, transmitting between mammals and between humans, who would have little or no immunity," he said. . Farrar, who was already correct in alerting of strange pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan on December 31, 2019, urges preparation of vaccines and treatments for each type of animal flu.

    Epidemiologist Matthew Baylis, former director of the the Liverpool Pandemic Institute , has also reacted to the analysis of the Galician outbreak. “Two years ago I wrote about the risks of mink farming for covid. And now we see even greater risks for bird flu, as mink offer a wonderful opportunity for the virus to adapt to mammals. That's where the next pandemic can come from," warned Baylis , from the University of Liverpool. “Is anyone heeding the warning sign? Clearly not."


    Avian influenza in mink in Galicia could have come from wild birds

    UpdatedTuesday, January 24, 2023 - 13:07

    The minks were raised in a partially open building where they were able to come into contact with seabirds, according to the research.

    The avian flu outbreak that was detected in an American mink farm in Galicia at the end of last year could have come, according to scientists, from wild birds, since the virus had previously been detected in numerous species of seabirds in different places in Europe, including Spain.

    The results of the investigation, which has been carried out today by the newspaper El País , have been published in the European Magazine on Surveillance, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, after analyzing this outbreak of "highly pathogenic" avian flu.

    Suspicions were unleashed when in October of last year an increase in mortality was detected at the American mink farm located in the municipality of Carral, in the province of A Coruña, which then housed almost 52,000 animals that ate raw fish and poultry by-products.

    The data from the investigation reveal that all the poultry farms and slaughterhouses that supplied these poultry by-products were also in Galicia, but that no outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry have been reported in Galicia.

    The mink were housed in wire mesh cages that provided superior protection for the animals but not full shelter on the sides, and researchers have determined that wild birds may have played a significant role in introducing the virus to the farm since that the minks were reared in a partially open building where they could be in contact with seabirds.

    In fact, the genotype of the virus that has been diagnosed in numerous species of seabirds throughout Europe is the same that was detected in gannets and seagulls in Galicia (on the coasts of A Coruña and Lugo) weeks before the virus occurred in this mink farm

    Previously, the same virus genotype had already been identified in numerous wild birds in the Netherlands, Belgium and France , as well as in a chicken outbreak and in a fox in Belgium.

    After the outbreak , all the animals on the Carral farm were slaughtered, and on November 17 all the minks had already been slaughtered and the carcasses and waste had been destroyed.

    Twelve people worked on the farm , eleven of whom had been in contact with the animals and had participated in the slaughter activities, but after carrying out samples and analysis, all of them were negative, although a semi- quarantine regime was applied to avoid any contact with other people for ten days from your last contact with animals or farm facilities.

    Since the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection was detected for the first time in mink farms in the Netherlands in April 2020 , the use of masks is mandatory in all mink farms in Spain, and in recent months They have also applied additional biosecurity measures.

    The scientific findings suggest that the virus could have been introduced by wild birds, but that later transmission occurred among the mink themselves on the affected farm , due to the increasing number of infected animals after confirmation of the disease and its progression from the initially affected area. to the entire farm.

    The source of the outbreak remains unknown , but scientists have corroborated that the spread coincided with a wave of virus infections in seabirds in Galicia, so it can be assumed that wild birds may have played an important role in the introduction . of the virus on the farm.

    The researchers have suggested the importance of strengthening the culture of biosafety and bioprotection in this farm mink breeding system for the fur industry, as well as promoting the implementation of surveillance programs for influenza A viruses and other pathogens. zoonotic worldwide.

    These interventions are essential to prevent contact between mink and wildlife, and to control disease transmission events from mink to farmworkers and vice versa, the researchers note.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela