17,000 poultry killed prematurely?

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Animal rights activists criticize: Have 17,000 poultry animals been prematurely killed because of an actually harmless bird flu pathogen?
At the instructions of the Parchim district veterinary office in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, around 17,000 geese, ducks and chickens have now been killed in Kobande because bird flu viruses of the H5N2 type were found during a routine check. Virologists generally classify this type of pathogen as completely harmless. In other European countries, there are therefore no stock killings due to this pathogen, as announced by the Working Group for Appropriate Farm Animal Husbandry.

The animals of the poultry farm concerned are pre-fattened in stables, so that, if the plumage offers enough protection, they can live in a species-free free range until slaughter. "This is the most animal-friendly type of fattening," emphasized Dr. Rosemarie Heiß, who takes care of the stock veterinarian.

Mass killings of this kind have caused massive protests not only on the part of animal rights activists in the past. This has a negative impact on the sale of poultry meat, which is why the poultry industry does not want any public. Animal rights activist Eckard Wendt from the Working Group for Appropriate Livestock Husbandry (AGfaN) was therefore not allowed to enter the site. However, he was able to observe the process from outside: the animals were quietly driven into pens and into the transport baskets by four people under the supervision of an official veterinarian, and paralyzing animals were even taken in almost gently. Only occasionally did a worker forget the unwanted observer and throw a goose into the transport container. The journey to the central gasification container was slow and therefore gentle. Wendt, on the other hand, rated the unloading into the container as absolutely contrary to animal protection. The animals were poured high above the container into a funnel with a downpipe. The killing was carried out as usual with CO2 gas (carbon dioxide). CO2 combines with the moisture in the respiratory tract to form a strongly irritating carbonic acid (H2CO3), which triggers extreme anxiety. Death occurs through oxygen deprivation, i.e. through suffocation.

Ministry of Agriculture rejects criticism
The Ministry of Agriculture rejected the criticism of animal rights activists. According to a spokeswoman, slaughter was not possible. However, the mass killing of the animals is monitored by specialists. The killing of the animals is intended to prevent the infection from spreading to other poultry stocks. The Ministry continues to believe that it cannot be excluded that the harmless virus mutates into the dangerous H5N1 virus. This could generally be the case with the virus types H5 and H7. The more animals live together, the greater the danger. In addition, they had acted according to the Animal Welfare Ordinance, which provides for killing in such cases.

In contrast, veterinarian Dr. Karin Ulich from the association "Mensch & Tier eV": "It is completely out of the question that the harmless influenza type H5N2, which was found in the Parchim district of healthy ducks and geese, mutates to H5N1. Healthy free-range animals with an intact immune system form against H5N2 protective antibodies. This natural process means that the viruses disappear from the inventory after a short time. " (PM Eckard Wendt, Sb, pm Tier & Mensch, 11/15/2010)

Also read:
Dangerous bird flu virus or harmless?
Avian flu viruses detected

Photo credits: Eckard Wendt / AGfaN

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