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390,000 ducks and hens in northern Europe culled over bird flu fears

The birds were culled in the space of three days in Sweden and the Netherlands following a resurgence in the virus across Europe.

Image: Shutterstock/Red On

DUTCH OFFICIALS HAVE culled 190,000 ducks on a central Netherlands farm where inspectors have confirmed the presence of a highly infectious strain of bird flu, according to officials and local media.

Last Thursday, officials announced the discovery of the virus in a farm in southwest Sweden, and that 200,000 birds would be culled to prevent the spread of bird flu, which has seen a resurgence across Europe.

The outbreak in the Netherlands was detected at a farm in Biddinghuizen, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Amsterdam, where about 180,000 ducks were put down over the weekend together with another 10,000 within a one kilometre radius, the Dutch food and safety watchdog NVWA said.

“There are three other poultry farms within a three kilometre radius and they are being monitored,” the NVWA added in a statement.

Dutch authorities have also imposed a ban on poultry and poultry product transport within a 10 kilometre radius, the statement also said.

Growing fears

Tests indicated that the birds were killed by an H5N8 variant of the disease “which is highly infectious” for poultry – killing about 30% of infected birds – but not “very dangerous to humans”, public newscaster NOS said.

The H5N8 virus has been detected in poultry and wild birds in ten European countries according to the World Health Organisation: Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and Russia.

A fortnight ago the Netherlands closed petting zoos and banned duck hunting as it stepped up measures to stem a bird flu outbreak blamed for killing scores of poultry and more than a thousand wild birds in the country.

Other bird deaths

In the western port of Rotterdam, a park closed its animal section after several aquatic birds were found to have died from the H5N8 virus. Others still not affected have been penned in.

And on the banks of Lake Markermeer, close to Amsterdam, about 1,250 wild birds were found dead earlier this month, local news reports said.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 420 people, mainly in southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003. Another strain of bird flu, H7N9, has claimed more than 200 lives since emerging in 2013, according to World Health Organisation figures.

- © AFP, 2016

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