Authorities confirmed that a site housing nearly 500,000 birds in the Kostromskaya region of northwestern Russia was infected with highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza. The virus belongs to the Asian lineage of the high-route strain H5 that has been in outbreaks in Asia, Africa and Europe since 2014.

It follows 67 outbreaks of H5 avian influenza in various regions of western Russia this summer.

An assessment by the UK government said that if the source were wild birds, their migration routes could put farms across northern Europe at risk.

The site of this latest outbreak is overlapped by three migration routes, one of which brings birds to the UK.

Defra's assessment said: “As we approach the autumn migration season, the risk to the UK will start to increase. If all these outbreaks are caused by the H5N2 HPAI virus and if this virus is not adapted to poultry and therefore can jump to wild waterfowl, migratory waterfowl may have only partial immunity if they were exposed to H5N6 HPAI last year or H5N8 HPAI in the previous year.

In conclusion, the government agency said the risk of avian influenza remains very low, as waterfowl are not yet migrating west from Russian territories, but as fall progresses, this will change.

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