Sciensano, the Belgian institute for health, successfully completed a study on avian influenza at the end of July 2019. Sciensano is the Belgian National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for avian influenza.
From the beginning of April until the end of June 2019, the H3N1 avian influenza virus was detected in 82 farms with free range laying hens. This subtype of bird flu has a low pathogenicity and has no reporting obligation according to EU guidelines, unlike other subtypes. The affected companies are mainly located in northwestern Belgium.
The genetic information indicates that this subvirus originates from wild birds, who have passed it on to poultry. Young, healthy hens that had not yet laid eggs and to which the virus was administered did not fall ill. Adult laying hens were also tested and 2 of 6 animals died one week after infection.