Poland is culling over 900,000 hens due to an avian influenza outbreak discovered on one single farm this week, state news agency PAP reported.
The flu outbreak hit a farm in the village of Wroniawy, western part of Poland.
“It is a farm of 930,000 laying hens. … A canal runs behind the farm, there are also fields nearby, with geese and other wild birds,” PAP quoted local veterinary authorities as saying.
The culling process started on Thursday and would continue for up to six days.
The disease has been found in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and, for the first time this week in Croatia, Slovenia and Poland, after severely hitting Russia, Kazakhstan and Israel.
The vast majority of cases are in migrating wild birds but outbreaks have been reported on farms, leading to the death or culling of at least 1.6 million chickens and ducks so far around the region.
In the Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of chicken meat and eggs, nearly 500,000 chickens were culled due to the virus this autumn.
Russia’s poultry death toll reached 1.8 million by the end of October, with nearly 1.6 million of that on one farm near Kazakhstan, data by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) showed.
The main strain found this year in Europe is H5N8, which decimated flocks in 2016/17 when the region recorded its largest outbreak in poultry and wild birds, but there were also reports of H5N5 and H5N1.
Risk to humans from the disease is considered low, but past outbreaks among farm birds have required extensive slaughtering programmes to contain the outbreak.
Most counties have raised their alert status to “high”, implying that poultry and birds of all types be kept indoors or protected in order to avoid contact with wild birds.
Bird flu outbreaks like other animal diseases often prompt importing countries to impose trade restrictions.