Dutch check other farms after bird flu outbreak

17th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Dutch officials were on Monday checking poultry farms for a highly infectious strain of bird flu following an outbreak in a central village of the virus which could infect humans.

Public health authorities on Sunday banned the transport of poultry nationwide after the discovery in Hekendorp village of the "highly pathogenic" form of avian influenza that is very dangerous to birds and can contaminate humans.

The destruction of around 150,000 chickens at the farm in Hekendorp, near Utrecht, should be completed on Monday, said Lex Denden of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

"We're checking another 16 poultry farms in around a 10-kilometre (six mile) radius," he told AFP.

"No other cases have so far been detected and we hope to complete the tests today.

"Dutch media reported that the birds would be gassed.

Hekendorp mayor Pieter Verhoeve issued an emergency ordinance closing off the village to all traffic except officials and residents during the cull.

Officials have identified the flu as being the H5N8 strain, previously detected only in Asia, but which was identified on a German farm in November.

Avian influenza is fatal for chickens, and poses a health threat to humans, who can become sickened by handling infected poultry.

But Dutch authorities have said human infection can only occur following "intense and direct contact" with infected birds.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 400 people, mainly in Southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003.

Another strain of bird flu, H7N9, has claimed more than 170 lives since emerging in 2013.

The Dutch transport ban is to last a maximum of 72 hours from Sunday and includes moving poultry, eggs and bird manure.

However, in a 10-kilometre ring around the affected farm the ban could last up to 30 days.

Hunting has also been banned for now across the country.

According to Dutch media, the H7N7 strain of avian flu severely hit the Netherlands in 2003 with health authorities destroying some 30 million birds in an effort to quash an outbreak.

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© 2014 AFP

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