Dead birds are collected following a bird flu outbreak in Finnmark, Norway, on 20 July 2023. The Finnish Food Authority has decided to inspect all of Finland’s roughly 400 fur farms over bird flu concerns. (Öyvind Zahl Arntzen – NTB / AFP)


THE FINNISH Food Authority will conduct inspections at all of the roughly 400 fur farms in Finland, according to YLE.

“The avian influenza is a dangerous disease at fur farms because it can mutate into a disease that can transmit to people. This hasn’t happened yet, but the risk does exist,” Terhi Laaksonen, the director of animal health and welfare at the Finnish Food Authority, stated to the public broadcasting company on Monday.

“We want to make sure that no virus that’s capable of mutating is left brewing.”

YLE wrote that the decision to inspect all fur farms was not made due to the situation deteriorating, pointing out that the number of infections detected in fur-bearing animals has levelled off since July. Presently fur farms are inspected on a case-by-case basis, with veterinarians dispatched to collect samples at farms where infections are suspected, that are connected to a farm with a confirmed infection or that are located in a region with a high number of infections.

The avian influenza has to date caused infections at 24 fur farms. Half of them have been issued an order to put down some number of fur-bearing animals, nine are under monitoring and three are being assessed for the need to issue a culling order.

The inspection regime is set to be expanded in September. The inspectors will simultaneously also look into the measures farms have adopted to protect against communicable diseases, such as whether the farm animals are able to come into contact with wild birds.

The undertaking will be conducted mostly by local and regional veterinarians, but a more detailed plan has yet been finalised.

Laaksonen said the undertaking will take time because the inspections have to be carried out such that the laboratories analysing the samples are not overwhelmed and because the same inspector cannot visit more than a single farm in a day due to the risk of transmission.

Ideally the bird flu will have been eradicated from fur farms by early October. The regular influenza typically starts spreading around that time, increasing the risk of rapidly spreading mutations if the avian influenza continues to circulate at fur farms. It is unlikely that all farms will have been inspected by then, admitted Laaksonen.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT