Israel says highly pathogenic strain of bird flu found at northern farm
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Israel says highly pathogenic strain of bird flu found at northern farm

Agriculture Ministry informs World Organization for Animal Health that flock of 13,000 was culled after H5N8 virus found at Ma’ale Gilboa poultry farm

Illustrative: Turkeys at a farm in New Jersey in November 2018 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Illustrative: Turkeys at a farm in New Jersey in November 2018 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The World Organization for Animal Health on Thursday said Israel has reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N8 bird flu virus at a turkey farm in the north of the country.

The alert posted on the organizaiton’s website said 350 turkeys out of the flock of over 13,000 at the Ma’ale Gilboa farm were found to be infected with the avian flu, which can be deadly to humans.

Around 200 of the turkeys died from the virus, and the remaining birds were killed in keeping with Agriculture Ministry guidelines.

The spread of the H5N8 strain of the avian flu virus in recent years has lead to the deaths of millions of birds in Europe and Asia as health officials have sought to contain the virus.

The strain is not known to have infected humans as of yet, but officials are concerned it could have a highly deadly potential if it does.

In 2016, the World Health Organization warned that the H5N8 virus was “rapidly spreading in Asia and Europe, causing deaths in wild birds and outbreaks in domestic poultry.”

Since then, major outbreaks have been reported across the Middle East and Africa.

Israeli and Palestinian growers have dealt with sporadic outbreaks of the virus over the years, with hundreds of thousands of birds culled to stop the virus from spreading.

In 2006, southern Israel’s poultry industry was brought nearly to the brink of collapse, growers said, after a number of culls following the discovery of bird flu.

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