The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has confirmed avian influenza H5N1 in two fox cubs found in the province of Groningen.
The two cubs were observed behaving abnormally, displaying neurologic signs, blindness and aggressive behaviour. As this kind of abnormal behaviour could be caused by an infection with rabies, the two cubs were tested by NVWA at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR). The tests result for rabies came back negative.
The two cubs were also tested for avian influenza on recommendation of the DWHC. Avian influenza has occasionally been reported in mammalian wildlife, with the H5N8 strain detected in Scotland in a fox as well as three seals that died at a wildlife rehabilitation centre. The WBVR tested the two cubs from the province of Groningen for avian influenza and diagnosed them with avian influenza H5N1. The fox cubs are likely to have caught the virus by eating infected birds, similarly to how birds of prey are considered to become infected with avian influenza.
Since the confirmation of avian influenza in the two foxes, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality advices to keep dogs on a leash in the provinces of Friesland and Groningen, where birds are found dying due to avian influenza virus. This to prevent dogs from coming into contact with infected dead birds.