Avian influenza found at ten fox farms

November 13/2023

The survey of fox and raccoon dog farms that begun recently has found avian influenza at ten farms. The farms where the infectious were found are located in the five regions where avian influenza cases have been observed in the past. At this point, 38 fox and raccoon dog farms have been inspected in the survey. All of these farms have had foxes and a few have also had raccoon dogs.

The survey of fox and raccoon dog farms began properly during week 45. The survey has already detected more cases of avian influenza than a previous mink survey, where avian influenza was only found on three farms. It is possible that foxes are more susceptible to avian influenza infections than mink, or that the bird protection at fox farms has not been as good as at mink farms or that there are more fox farms in areas where there have been many avian influenza infections in wild birds.

Farms where infections were found during the fox and raccoon dog survey are located in Ostrobothnia, Southern, Central and Northern Ostrobothnia and Satakunta. The municipalities in which the farms are located and the information on their animal species will be published later on the Finnish Food Authority's website, after the Regional State Administrative Agency has been in contact with the parties concerned.

During the avian influenza survey blood samples will be taken from foxes and raccoon dogs at fur farms. Most samples are taken by municipal veterinary officials. The Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland is responsible for organising sampling and coordinating the survey for the whole of Finland. The survey will cover approx. 330 fur farms which have foxes or raccoon dogs or both. Before the survey began, avian influenza had been found at 28 fur farms with foxes and/or raccoon dogs. In total, avian influenza has now been found at 42 fur farms.

Blood samples are first tested at the Finnish Food Authority’s laboratory for antibodies from the Influenza A virus using the ELISA method. Antibody-positive samples are confirmed with the HI method (hemagglutination inhibition). The method studies the binding of the sample antibodies to the HA protein of influenza A virus, which is the same sub-type as the virus isolated from fur farms. The test accurately detects antibodies to the H5 virus.

The Finnish Food Authority will order the animals to be culled in fur farms whose samples show antibodies to H5 avian influenza.

More information:

Terhi Laaksonen, Director, tel. +358 29 520 4530 (Animal Health and Medication)
Research Professor Tuija Gadd, tel. +358 29 520 4183 (virological studies)

E-mail: firstname.lastname@ruokavirasto.fi

Read more:

Avian influenza 
Fur farm zoonoses risk profile (pdf)