Avian flu hits Saudi Arabia with two new cases

By Ashley Williams

- Last updated on GMT

As many as 254,050 birds have been culled
As many as 254,050 birds have been culled
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture for Saudi Arabia has reported two cases of H5N8 avian influenza in the Kharj Governorate region.

The Ministry’s latest update revealed the number of samples collected from the Saudi regions since the start of the flu outbreak reached 12,829. The results revealed that 171 of these samples tested positive and the Saudi authorities had taken action by culling as many as 254,050 birds in the past 24 hours.

H5N8 is a subtype of the influenza A virus, often referred as ‘bird flu’, which affects chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. The flu was first discovered in Ireland in 1983 and has since been reported in countries around the world.

During 2016/17, there were several outbreaks of H5N8 bird flu in poultry flocks and wild birds in the UK and Europe. Since then, there have been further outbreaks of H5N8 across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Public health advice has recommended avoiding contact with any poultry or wild birds or other animals that are sick or found dead and to report them to the relevant authorities. Other advice includes washing hands with soap or disinfectant, as well as following efficient food safety and hygiene practices. 

To date, there have been no human cases of H5N8 due to the unlikely risk of infection.

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