Italy reports bird flu outbreak near Rome

Italy records outbreaks in Veneto and now Lazio.

An outbreak of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, has been reported on a poultry farm at Ostia Antica near Rome.

The Lazio regional authorities have ordered a 3-km protection zone and a 10-km surveillance zone around the premises, described as a "non commercial" farm.

The outbreak came to light after 50 chickens at the farm died in the space of two days, according to Rome newspaper Il Messaggero.

The order is effective from 9 November and will affect around 35 small farms in the area, said Lazio health councillor Alessio D'Amato who added that the situation is "under control."

Lazio governor Nicola Zingaretti stressed that authorities have intervened in "rapid manner" to deal with the "serious strain", identified by Italian public health institute IZSVe as subtype H5 HPAI.

A task force has been set up to oversee the required measures which include a ban on the movement of "poultry, captive birds or domestic mammals" without the authorisation of the veterinarian. 

Anyone entering or leaving a farm must comply with the necessary protocols. All bird carcasses must be destroyed immediately and the transport of poultry between farms has been banned.

Symptoms of the disease in birds include decreased activity or vocalisation, eating and drinking less and producing fewer eggs.

In addition to Ostia Antica, about 20 cases of avian influenza have been reported over the last few weeks at commercial hen and turkey farms in the Verona area of the northern Veneto region.