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Second outbreak of bird flu discovered in Israel

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Workers in protective gear in Moshav Givat Yoav, in northern Israel, following an outbreak of the bird flu, December 29, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Workers in protective gear in Moshav Givat Yoav, in northern Israel, following an outbreak of the bird flu, December 29, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Bird flu is discovered at a second site in Israel — a turkey farm on Moshav Beit Herut, in central Israel.

It was identified in one of seven coops and a quarantine has been imposed on all poultry within a 10-kilometer radius.

The first outbreak of the disease during the current migration season was discovered a week ago among turkeys on Kibbutz Shluhot in the Beit She’an Valley.

In both cases, the strain — H5N1 — is the same one that led to the culling of hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys last year and the deaths of some 5,000 wild cranes at northern Israel’s Hula Lake Reserve.

Nature authorities feed wild birds at the reserve to keep them away from local farms. The concentration of birds in one place was thought to have sped the spread of the flu among the cranes last year.

Bird flu is sweeping Europe, the US and Japan.

Israel is a major migration route for wild birds, raising fears that infected specimens from overseas will bring the deadly virus to Israel.

The Agriculture Ministry is urging consumers to only buy eggs from reputable sources and to ensure that both eggs and chicken or turkey meat are thoroughly cooked before eating.

A spokesperson for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority says there was a “definite concern” that continued feeding of the cranes could lead to a repeat of last year’s tragedy.

She says the organization is in talks with local farmers and was discussing what to do in light of this season’s new outbreaks.

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