'Bird flu in Holland is a question of when'

17th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

17 February 2006, AMSTERDAM — Dutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman was pessimistic on Friday about the chance the Netherlands could escape an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

17 February 2006

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman was pessimistic on Friday about the chance the Netherlands could escape an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

"We are steeling ourselves," Veerman said after the Cabinet meeting on Friday. He said it was no longer a question of if the bird flu would come to the Netherlands, but when.

There was some good news later on Friday when the results of tests on the bodies of dead swans found in the Flevopolder and near Kampen established they had not died from bird flu.

The government launches a campaign on Monday to inform the public about the threat posed by bird flu. Farms are obliged to keep poultry indoors and isolated from wild birds from Monday. Fairs and exhibitions for poultry and homing pigeons are also banned.

Veerman emphasised it was important private owners of hobby poultry have their birds vaccinated.

His ministry hopes to have a full vaccination service for all poultry organised before the end of the spring, though this is dependent on approval from the European Commission (EC). Discussions with the EC about this are set to begin next week. 

Vaccinated animals receive two injections but it takes three weeks before they are immune and they cannot be introduced into the food chain.

Veerman said the EU's non-vaccination policy had been the subject of discussion in the Netherlands for several years. "There is a growing interest in and understanding for vaccination," he said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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