An outbreak of low-pathogenic avian influenza (H5N3) has been reported for the area of Cloppenburg in northern Germany in mid-December.
Since 11 December, fourteen cases of low-path AI (H5N3) have been confirmed exclusively in turkey stocks in the Cloppenburg region in Lower Saxony – Northern Germany.
The local authorities are systematically testing all the poultry flocks for AI infection. The veterinarians report that the H5N3 is extremely difficult to identify.
It can happen that some of the flocks had already been infected for a longer period without noticing it.
The fast speed of detection is the result of fast inspection work and does not necessarily mean that the disease is spreading quickly.
The authorities are in the process of destroying about 200,000 birds. This represents about 7% of the turkey production of the district of Cloppenburg, which is the main centre of turkey production in Germany accounting for about 30%.
Since the birds are quite heavy but not very fat the incineration causes a problem.
It is likely that part of the dead birds have to be stored on the farm and sufficiently covered with corn silage for three weeks before they can be finally destroyed.
The AI infection has not yet been transferred over to other poultry although this region is also a major chicken producer.
About one third of the German turkey production comes from the district of Cloppenburg, but market observers do not expect a significant impact on the German turkey meat market.