New monitoring of avian influenza to start at fur farms in June

May 17/2024

New monitoring of avian influenza at fur farms will start in the first week of June. The monitoring will continue until the end of September. This is the period when the risk of infection from wild birds is at its highest. Protection obligations for fur farms have also been strengthened, enforcement is being monitored and different authorities have issued guidance on protection against avian influenza.

As part of the monitoring, each fur farm must submit to the Finnish Food Authority three animals that have either died or been put down due to poor condition, for examination every three weeks. The Finnish Food Authority will organise the transport of dead animals for laboratory tests. If a farm fails to provide samples for monitoring, a municipal veterinarian will visit the farm to take samples. In addition, if avian influenza is suspected at a farm, for example because of symptoms or increased mortality, a municipal veterinarian will also visit the farm to take samples.

The fur farmer is obliged to inform the municipal veterinarian of any suspicious symptoms and mortality of animals. Fur farmers must also protect their animals from avian influenza infections spread by wild animals. Decree 14/2024 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry requires, among other things, the protection of facilities housing livestock with bird nets between mid-April and the end of October. Municipal veterinarians are monitoring compliance with the requirements of the decree at fur farms.

Infections have decreased in wild birds

The Finnish Food Authority is testing wild birds, in particular waterfowl and birds of prey, for avian influenza (in accordance with the Commission Regulation). The aim is early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds. Samples are being taken from wild birds, especially migratory waterfowl, sent to the Finnish Food Authority that have been found sick or dead.

This year in Europe, fewer cases of avian influenza infections in wild birds have been recorded than in previous years. No cases of avian influenza in wild birds have been found in Finland so far this year. This year, the Finnish Food Authority aims to examine samples from around 250 wild birds.

Last year, several mass mortalities of wild birds caused by avian influenza were recorded in Finland. Infections were particularly found in black-headed gulls from which avian influenza infections were most likely to spread to fur farms, causing an epidemic. As a result, the Finnish Food Authority ordered all the animals at 72 fur farms, totalling around 500,000, to be culled. The order to cull is based on protecting human health.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health draws up guidelines for protection

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s Protection against avian influenza pages contain instructions on how to protect yourself in situations where you may encounter dead birds or bird droppings. On the same pages, you will also find specific protection guidelines for those tending animals on fur farms. Even with appropriate disease protection at fur farms, avian influenza infections there are possible when birds forage in shelters. Infections can be difficult to detect. That is why fur farms still need to protect themselves. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure the safety of all its workers.

Finland participating in the joint procurement of vaccines

Vaccines against avian influenza have been developed for humans, and Finland is participating in the EU's joint procurement of such vaccines. Details of the procurement are still open, and more information will be available in June. THL is responsible for the procurement of the vaccines in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.   


More information:
Finnish Food Authority
Terhi Laaksonen, Director of Department, tel. +358 40 159 5812, (monitoring)
Tuija Gadd, Research Professor, tel. +358 50 357 0328, (laboratory)

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
Mia Kontio, Senior Specialist tel. +358 29 524 8365, (vaccines)

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Erja Mäkelä, Senior Adviser, tel. +358 30 474 2595,

Read more:
Avian influenza (Finnish Food Authority)
Protection against avian influenza (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health), in Finnish
Avian influenza (THL), in Finnish