The Sciensano public health institute has detected traces of avian influenza in four black-headed gulls found dead in the Brussels municipalities of Anderlecht, Forest and Laeken.
This was reported by VRT NWS and confirmed to Belga News Agency by the capital region's environmental agency, Bruxelles Environnement.
The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) strongly recommends preventive measures to protect chickens and birds as much as possible.
The four gulls showed nervous symptoms that led to suspicions of avian flu, and the National Reference Laboratory for Avian Flu, which is part of Sciensano, confirmed the suspicions.
The avian flu virus is highly contagious to birds and in some cases can spread to mammals, such as foxes that feed on sick or dead birds.
Do not touch carcasses!
It can also be transmitted to humans when they come into contact with infected animals. Brussels Environment therefore urges its employees to wear gloves and mouth masks when touching dead animals.
People who find dead animals are asked not to touch their carcasses and to call the Influenza Call Center on the toll-free number 0800 99 777.
The FASFC said it was not surprised that the dead gulls had avian flu, as the virus has been circulating among wild birds for several months.
It recommends taking preventive measures for poultry: people who keep chickens or birds at home need to cover the runs with netting and should not place drinking troughs in the open.