The outbreak of avian influenza that infected ducks at a U.K. farm has been confirmed to be of the H5N8 serotype, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) reported on November 18.

The outbreak was first reported by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on November 11. Of a total 6,000 susceptible ducks at the farm in Yorkshire, 338 had died from an apparent infection of avian influenza. However, until Defra made its announcement, the exact serotype of the virus had not yet been determined.

The UK farm had noticed a drop in egg production from the ducks leading up to the confirmation of H5N8 avian influenza. Underlying bacterial/fungal infections likely preceded the avian influenza infections, reported OIE.


H5N8 avian influenza has also infected flocks at other farms in Europe in recent weeks. The H5N8 strain was first detected at a fattening turkey holding in Germany and reported by OIE on November 6.  An estimated 1,880 birds died, with culling efforts following for other susceptible birds.

OIE on November 16 reported another outbreak of H5N8 avian influenza, this time in The Netherlands. About 1,000 layer and breeding hens were found dead, with an additional 149,000 susceptible birds destroyed.

Defra advised that H5N8 avian influenza is a very low risk to human health and does not threaten the food chain.