Israel finds first bird flu case of the season in turkeys

The slaughterhouse where the infections were found and all the coops within a 10 kilometer radius were placed under quarantine.

 Workers in protective gear seen in Moshav Givat Yoav, in northern Israel, December 29, 2021, following an outbreak of avian influenza (photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)
Workers in protective gear seen in Moshav Givat Yoav, in northern Israel, December 29, 2021, following an outbreak of avian influenza
(photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)

Turkeys were found to be infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Kibbutz Shluhot in northern Israel on Tuesday in the first cases detected in Israel this season, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The infected birds were discovered at a slaughterhouse in the area. The slaughterhouse and all the farms raising turkeys within a 10 kilometer radius were placed under quarantine.

The Agriculture Ministry is following regulations in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The Health Ministry and the Nature and Parks Authority have been informed about the cases.

The Agriculture Ministry stressed that it is still safe to purchase eggs and poultry and that all eggs and poultry should be cooked well before consumption.

The ministry additionally instructed all those raising birds to keep the birds inside buildings and prevent them from going outside in order to lower the chances of infection.

  Chickens await vaccination against bird flu at the settlement Peredovoi 100 km (62 miles) from the Russia's southern city of Stavropol, March 11, 2006. (credit: EDUARD KORNIYENKO/REUTERS) Chickens await vaccination against bird flu at the settlement Peredovoi 100 km (62 miles) from the Russia's southern city of Stavropol, March 11, 2006. (credit: EDUARD KORNIYENKO/REUTERS)

Large bird flu outbreak killed over 1 million birds last year in Israel

The last cases of bird flu in Israel were discovered in two wild birds in April and May, when a Eurasian Sparrowhawk and a White Stork were found to be infected with the H5N8 strain of the virus.

Late last year, a large outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza swept through Israel, with the Agriculture Ministry calling it one of the largest outbreaks in the world.

Additionally, for the first time, the virus caused a mass fatality event among wild birds last year, killing one million birds and 8,000 cranes in 20 hotspots across the country.

'Largest-ever outbreak' reported in North America, Europe

The new infection in Israel comes amid an ongoing outbreak in North America and Europe which began last year and has been described as "the largest-ever" outbreak on both continents.

A recent report from the (WOAH) stated that over 4.6 million birds had died or were culled due to the virus in just a four week period between October 12 to November 10. 

A case of H5N1 bird flu was discovered in Colombia for the first time as well, marking the first discovery of bird flu in South America since 2002. Shortly afterward, a case was discovered in Peru as well.

The number of cases is expected to rise in the coming months, according to WOAH.

Over 50 million domesticated birds in 46 states have been killed or culled in the US due to the 2022 avian influenza outbreak. Another 3,700 wild birds have been found to be infected with the virus in nearly every US state, including Alaska.

The virus has also been detected in foxes, leopards, seals, dolphins, skunks, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, fishers and bobcats.