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Italian Bird-Flu Outbreak Spreads to Three More Farms, EU Says

An outbreak of a virulent strain of avian influenza reported last month in Italy spread in the provinces of Bologna and Ferrara, according to data released by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm.

Three more farms confirmed cases of the H7N7 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza since Aug. 28, bringing the total number of outbreaks to six, according to a presentation the commission posted online today from Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, a public research institute in Legnaro, Italy.

Two of the new cases were at industrial farms owned by a poultry company affected by a previous outbreak, while the third involved a rural backyard flock, according to the report. Almost 220,000 birds were slaughtered in the three locations to stem the spread of the disease. More than 730,000 were killed in the prior three outbreaks, the report showed.

Highly pathogenic strains of avian flu can spread rapidly and be fatal for both domesticated and wild birds, according to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, known as OIE. The most recent highly pathogenic outbreaks in the EU were in 2010 in Romania and Bulgaria, according to the OIE. While Italy has had multiple cases of low-pathogenic bird flu since 1997, this is the first highly pathogenic outbreak since 2000.

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