A bird flu infection has been detected in blue foxes in the fur farm in Kausti, Central Ostrobothnia.
It is the same highly pathogenic H5N1 virus type that has caused several mass deaths of wild birds recently. In addition, animals from four other fur farms in Southern and Central Ostrobothnia have been found to have the influenza virus, the more precise typing of which is still in progress at the Food Agency.
In Finland, avian influenza has not previously been detected in farmed fur animals. On the other hand, infection in wild foxes has been confirmed twice in Finland.
Influenza viruses were detected in the Food Agency‘s laboratory tests on samples sent by breeders to be examined in order to find out the cause of illness or death of the animals. Virus typing is still in progress from the samples sent from a total of four shelters in Kauhava, South Ostrobothnia and Halsua and Kaustine, Central Ostrobothnia. The sources of infection in fur farms are being investigated, but most likely the infections come from wild birds.
Bird flu infection in fur animals does not cause the shelter to be subject to restrictions imposed by the animal disease authority. The Finnish Food Agency and the regional administrative agencies are monitoring the situation in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) and the health authorities of the welfare regions. Follow-up samples are taken from the fur farms, which are examined to detect possible transformation of the influenza virus.
It is recommended that people working in fur farms always contact health care for instructions if they have respiratory symptoms suggestive of influenza (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and/or symptoms suggestive of encephalitis (neck stiffness combined with headache and nausea). Those working in animal shelters must constantly use protective equipment and take care of sufficiently careful hand washing to prevent the transfer of possible infections between animals and humans. In addition to the bird flu virus, fur animals can also contain other pathogens that infect humans, such as the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and salmonella. Fur farms must also try to prevent wild birds from coming into contact with farm animals as much as possible, and take care of effective rodent control.
Bird flu has been found in large numbers in wild birds this summer. A particularly large number of infections have occurred in laughter logs throughout Europe. The Food Agency is currently examining samples from several mass deaths of seagulls from different parts of Finland.