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Belgium Reports H5N1 In Foxes


According to a ProMED report on July 28th, authorities in Belgium reported isolation of H5N1 strain Avian Influenza Virus from dead, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) consistent with concurrent reports in migratory waterfowl and shore birds.  Recent reports have been posted on isolation of the 2022 epornitic H5N1 strain with Eurasian genes from skunks (Mephitidae), raccoons (Procyonidae) and harbor seals (Pinnipedia).


The occurrence of H5N1 HPAI in mammals in Europe and North America suggests adaptation to mammalian hosts, which is a concerning reality.   In addition, the presence of the virus that can produce clinical signs in mammalian hosts may contribute to reservoir populations capable of maintaining infection.  Most official reports warn against handling sick or dead mammals, since infection of humans from mammals would appear to be more likely than from birds.


Authorities in Belgium are monitoring the Avian Influenza situation in wildlife through the Ostend Bird and Wild Animal Rehabilitation Center.