Dangerous bird flu virus or harmless?

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Dangerous bird flu or harmless? Animal rights activists criticize mass killings of animals due to harmless findings.

As previously reported, around 17,000 geese and ducks had to be killed in a poultry farmer in the Parchim district (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) due to suspected bird flu. The mass killing of the animals was ordered by the Ministry of Economics in Schwerin.

However, the virus found is not the bird flu virus H5N1, but the comparatively harmless variant H5N2. Antibodies were found in individual animals during routine control. The ministry then ordered immediate and extensive blocking and killing of the allegedly infected animals in order to prevent a possible mutation of the dangerous bird flu virus (H5N1), according to officials. The company receives compensation for all animals killed from the disease fund.

Mass killing due to "harmless viruses" triggers fierce criticism Among animal rights activists and veterinary doctors, the mass culling of animals triggers fierce criticism. Because in the actually healthy animals only antibodies of a harmless influenza pathogen were found. Animal rights activists disagree with the official statement that the virus type can mutate into the dangerous avian influenza virus H5N1. Critics believe that in large-scale animal husbandry, numerous animal passages of the animals under permanent stress can lead to the appearance of disease symptoms. This results from the fact that the animals in the stables are not kept according to their type and the conditions in the poultry facilities are often unsanitary. If antibodies were found in individual animals, this is simply a natural process. Because the animals would suffer from the type of keeping. It is currently not possible to confirm whether the farm in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania actually had a non-species-appropriate attitude. Rather, it is about a fundamental criticism of the avian influenza regulation.

The animals now affected were free-range poultry. The animal protection association "Animal and Man" considers it "completely excluded that the harmless influenza type H5N2, which was found in the Parchim district in healthy ducks and geese, mutates to H5N1. Healthy outdoor animals with an intact immune system form protective antibodies against H5N2. This natural process means that the viruses disappear from the inventory after a short time, ”as it was said. The situation is very different for factory farming, because the association believes that these are highly "explosive breeding grounds for disease germs, in which even harmless germs can become a problem: the tight stalls of thousands of ailing and permanently stressed, overbred animals, whose immune system in addition to the usual husbandry conditions weakened by massive antibiotics, makes the animals extremely susceptible to any infection ”. Meanwhile, the Central Association of the German Poultry Industry has asked not to relax the avian influenza regulation. The animal and human initiative, however, sees this as an attempt by the poultry industry to "use the harmless viruses found in healthy free-range poultry in the Parchim district to further choke free-range farming as competition for factory farming".

The veterinarian chairwoman of the association, Dr. Karin Ulich, emphasized: “It is imperative to check the poultry for highly pathogenic avian influenza in every stable, ie in the case of factory farming, before every move out and in. This also applies explicitly to poultry to be delivered to slaughterhouses. The low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses must not result in any culling actions - it should be considered here, if necessary, to prescribe a repeat examination after a few days, should the affected animals move. In free range, in my opinion, low pathogenic germs are meaningless and can be neglected. "

Avian influenza regulation in the sense of the poultry industry to clean up the market? Animal rights activists suspect that the avian influenza regulation was designed in the spirit of the poultry industry. This regulation allows the so-called culling (i.e. killing) of whole healthy stocks if only low-pathogenic viruses were found during an examination. This possibility of mass culling is mainly used to clear up an oversupply on the market at the expense of the disease fund, the criticism. It has often happened that entire animal populations were killed en masse because alleged symptoms were found in animals. According to the animal protection organization "Tier & Menschen e.V." "610,000 turkeys in factory farms in the Cloppenburg district were gassed and destroyed last winter". At that time, the authorities had found a "harmless relative" of the bird flu virus in 33 stocks. According to the association, "the oversaturated turkey market was cleared up at the expense of the epidemic fund and thus the taxpayer". At that time, no viruses were found in other animals outside the "turkey fattening factories" which were sealed off from the outside. (sb, Nov 14, 2010)

Also read:
Avian flu viruses detected
Swine flu facts

Image: Uschi Dreiucker / pixelio.de

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