Inhabitants of the little village of Tisova have been pushed to the limit in the last few days. Just hours after a local farm reported that its flock was dying from a bird flu virus, tests confirmed that the strain of bird flu in question was the H5N1 strain that can be deadly to humans. Now, not only the flock on the affected farm but all poultry in the entire village have to be culled.
Drive through the village of Tisova in eastern Bohemia and you would think that it has been the victim of a biological attack. The road leading to the village is closed off; the main gate to the affected farm is being guarded by the police. Fire fighters, soldiers, and veterinarians dressed in protective suits and inoculated with the bird flu vaccine have taken command. On Thursday and Friday, all fowl on the affected farm was culled and disposed of in airtight containers filled with deadly doses of carbon dioxide and transported to rendering plants. Now, the entire farm is undergoing disinfection. Luckily, the flock of some 6,000 turkeys was still being bred and had not been processed for consumption.
When asked how the inhabitants of Tisova are coping, the local mayor replied he had neither the words nor strength left to express how everyone is at their wit's end. But how did the bird flu virus get to a flock that was being held indoors? The source of the infection is still being determined. Zbynek Semerad is from the State Veterinary Authority:
"The most likely way that the virus was transmitted was via the bedding that was used for the flock. It was contaminated by the droppings of wild birds. That's how the virus could have hit a flock that was being held indoors."
According to Ales Cernohorsky, a member of the crisis team, all poultry bred within a protective perimeter of up to ten kilometres will also be monitored closely:
"In the next few days we will be observing a number of measures within a 3km and 10km perimeter. If anybody discovers another infected flock they are obliged to report it to their local mayor immediately. The flocks cannot be moved and their products - eggs and meat - will stay within the protective zone."
This local resident, who breeds chickens, is luckily not dependent on her flock:
"We have them locked up and we're not letting them go anywhere. But I don't know what good it will do considering that the turkeys that were infected were also locked up. So, we'll also have to cull our breed, there's simply nothing that can be done about it."
The mayor of Tisova, Vojtech Elias, says those who lose their fowl will be compensated:
"The owners of the fowl that have been culled have a right to compensation. It amounts to around 50 crowns per animal."
Fifty crowns is a mere 2.50 US dollars. The affected farm, on which 6,000 turkeys had to be culled, assesses its losses at around 2 million crowns, which is a little over 95,000 US dollars. Luckily, most poultry breeders in the area were not dependent on their flocks.