Avian influenza, information

Wild birds and domestic poultry living near the water are currently infected with avian influenza (“bird flu”, avian influenza). The pathogen is the avian influenza virus. It is highly contagious to wild birds and domestic poultry and causes serious...

Wild birds and domestic poultry living near the water are currently infected with avian influenza (“bird flu”, avian influenza). The pathogen is the avian influenza virus. It is highly contagious to wild birds and domestic poultry and causes serious symptoms of illness. Various water birds die, as well as gulls and predators. So far, no cases of disease have been observed in mammals.

Responsibility for reporting dead birds
The addressee for reporting dead and sick birds (wild birds and domestic poultry) is the relevant veterinary office. Finding a dead bird in the field and forest is one of the normal processes in life. It only makes sense to inform the veterinary office when several birds have died at one location.

What to do if bird flu is suspected (in animals and humans)
If you suspect bird flu in wild birds and domestic poultry, inform the veterinary office responsible for you immediately. The dead animals should never be touched without gloves or a plastic bag put over the hand. Dogs and cats are to be denied access to sick and dead birds. There are no known cases of illness in them, but they can contribute to the spread of the pathogen. The infection began in the wild water birds on the Baltic coast and Lake Constance. The virus probably came to us with the migratory birds and then infected the domestic birds. Birds that survive the disease develop antibodies and are then harmless.

Danger to animals (domestic poultry)
The keeper is responsible for domestic poultry; he must inform the veterinary office if an epidemic is suspected. The provisions of the Animal Health Act and the Avian Influence Ordinance apply to him. There is always a risk to domestic poultry when direct (wild birds eat with) or indirect contact occurs through the transfer of excrement and feathers between wild and domestic poultry. All domestic fowl species except pigeons are at risk of contracting the avian influenza virus. In the wild birds, ducks and geese were initially affected, but the virus has now also been found in gulls and birds of prey because they have eaten dead animals. Cases of illness in mammals have not yet been identified.

Danger to people
Human illnesses from the current avian influenza virus have so far only been found once in Russia among employees of a poultry farm. A risk to humans is therefore considered to be low. Regardless of this, all hygiene and biosecurity measures when handling birds, poultry and poultry meat must be observed without restriction, as poultry can also carry other pathogens.

Precautionary measures
As a poultry keeper, you can protect your animals by avoiding contact with wild birds for yourself and your animals. The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) has published a leaflet that contains information on the necessary biosafety measures and that is recommended to every poultry farmer. The provisions of the Avian Influenza Ordinance apply to poultry farmers. In addition to reporting the poultry keeping to the competent authority, the keeper's obligations also include compliance with biosecurity measures. Dogs and cats should not be allowed in poultry houses at this time.

Handling poultry meat
Meat from sick animals or animals that are suspected of being infected is not sold, but is disposed of without harm. But poultry meat from healthy animals can also be contaminated with bacterial or viral pathogens. Therefore, when processing poultry meat, the known hygiene measures must always be observed: The meat must be processed separately from other foods and it must be completely heated. Equipment (e.g. plates, knives, cutting boards) that has come into contact with raw poultry meat must be washed and dried before being used for other foods.

Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) and Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) provide detailed information on their websites.

A map with the outbreaks of avian influenza is constantly updated. The leaflet for poultry farmers can be found there as well as a risk assessment.

Important notes



Documents required


Please note

The following dead birds must be reported to the veterinary office responsible for the location:

  • Water fowl (swans, ducks, geese and seagulls),
  • Birds of prey,
  • as well as scavenging birds (e.g. crows).
For birds that are found outside the Hamburg city area, please contact the responsible districts.



Procedure & Fees


Reports can be made electronically, by telephone or by post.



Legal notes

Legal basis

Avian influenza regulation (GeflPestSchV)

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