According to the Lower Saxony Ministry of Agriculture, the highly contagious bird flu virus H5N1 has been detected in foxes in Germany for the first time. The Friedrich Loeffler Institute, as the national reference laboratory, has confirmed the infections of a total of four animals, the ministry said in Hanover.

There is no changed risk situation for people. However, the recently increased H5N1 evidence in mammals would have to be closely monitored. The ministry therefore called on counties with an increased number of infected wild birds to send in more mammals that have been found dead or killed and have them checked.

Avian influenza, also known as avian influenza, is an infectious disease that mainly affects waterfowl and other birds. Experts fear that the virus is adapting more and more to mammals and could therefore also become more dangerous to humans. Infections had also been detected in other mammals such as seals, raccoons, bears, martens and mink in the past few months. According to the ministry, there has been evidence of foxes in Sweden and Finland since 2020.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, predators such as foxes, raccoons and maggots have been monitored for influenza viruses since last year in order to record the spread of the virus. In the 179 investigations so far, the first evidence has now been found in foxes. It is likely that the foxes were infected through contact with infected wild birds.