Several mass deaths of wild birds caused by the avian influenza A(H5) virus have been detected in Finland during the summer, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release on Tuesday.
This week, infections have also been confirmed in fur animals in Ostrobothnia.
In Europe, large epidemics caused by the highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5) virus have been found in birds since 2020. In addition to birds, infections have been detected in several mammalian species, as well.
Infections with the highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5) are extremely rare in humans. Avian influenza viruses are poorly transmitted to humans and transmission usually requires close contact with animals that have contracted the disease or their secretions.
Transmissions from one person to another have not been detected.
Avian influenza viruses may cause a mild respiratory tract infection or conjunctivitis in humans, but some avian influenza viruses may also cause serious infections.
Some mammals have had a severe disease and neurological symptoms have been typical of the disease. It is therefore important to take into account the possibility of neurological symptoms in people, as well.
The most important thing is to avoid touching dead and sick birds or other wildlife and surfaces stained by their secretions.
If anyone gets respiratory tract symptoms or neurological symptoms after having touched a sick or dead animal, the peoson is urged to contact health care and mention the possible exposure.
People working at fur farms should always contact health care if they have symptoms of a respiratory tract infection or neurological symptoms.
In addition, they should wear protective equipment according to instructions and ensure good hand hygiene.