First bird flu case spotted in Switzerland this winter 

The bird flu virus has been detected in a seagull in the northeastern Swiss canton of Schaffhausen, near the German border, Swiss authorities say. 

This content was published on February 5, 2021 - 15:28
Bird flu, which has been detected in a seagull, is not known to infect humans but can devastate domestic poultry. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

This is the first case in Switzerland this winter. Measures were already taken on January 25 this year to protect domestic poultry around Lake Constance and along the river Rhine, the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) said on Friday. This came after the virus was earlier detected in a swan and a crow on German territory near Lake Constance. 

The measures apply until March 15, said the office. Monitoring areas have been defined all around the lake. 

Under the measures, poultry must be fed and watered in premises that are not accessible to wild birds. Outside they must be protected by netting. If this is not possible, poultry must be kept in closed premises. 

In observation areas, the health status of the birds should be closely monitored, said the FSVO. If more than one animal falls ill or dies, the cantonal veterinarian should be informed.  

The avian flu virus is not transmissible to humans, according to current knowledge. However, outbreaks have in the past led to major disruptions and slaughtering programmes in Europe's poultry industry. 

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