A virus lineage circulating especially among gulls confirmed as the cause of avian influenza infections in fur animals

July 24/2023

The preliminary sequencing results of the avian influenza viruses of the subtype H5N1 detected in fur farms in Western Finland have been received. Based on the results, the pathogenic agent causing the disease in fur animals has been confirmed as a virus lineage circulating especially among gulls. The results indicate that wild birds play a part in the spread of the virus to fur farms.

Some of the samples collected from fur farms suggested that the virus has undergone mutations contributing to the replication of the virus in mammalian cells, including the previously known mutation PB2-E627K. However, this adaptation is not known to increase the ability of the virus to infect humans.

Sequencing, i.e. investigation of the genome of the virus and the changes taking place in it, can be used to support outbreak investigations in identifying the source of infection and the chains of infection and implementing timely and sufficiently extensive control measures.

The Finnish Food Authority and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare continue to investigate the outbreak in cooperation with the Regional State Administrative Agency and international actors.


Further information

Finnish Food Authority: Riikka Holopainen, Head of Unit, firstname.lastname@ruokavirasto.fi, tel. +358 29 520 4273

Erika Lindh, Senior Researcher, firstname.lastname@thl.fi, tel. +358 29 524 8039
Anna Katz, Chief Specialist, Head of Unit, firstname.lastname@thl.fi, tel. +358 29 524 7424


Further information about avian influenza (in Finnish and Swedish)