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Avian Influenza Diagnosed in Belgium


According to a report by Dr. Herman Claeys, the Director-General for Animals, Plants and Food for the Federal Public Health Service in Brussels, an outbreak of an H5 strain avian influenza was diagnosed on a farm near Diksmuide in the West-Vlaanderen Province.  According to the report, 5,000 out of an 80,000-bird flock died with the remainder depopulated.


The virus was characterized as a low-pathogenicity strain but mortality approaching six percent of the flock within a few days suggests the virus may well be of higher pathogenicity then conventional LPAI.  In any event H5 infections introduced into areas with a high population of commercial flocks invariably results in mutation to high-pathogenicity unless eradication is carried out at an early stage of the outbreak. The NA component of the virus will be posted, when available but it is anticipated that the infective agent will be an H5N8 strain that is currently prevalent in Europe.