A highly contagious strain of bird flu has killed 500 ducks on a Dutch poultry farm.
Scientists at Wageningen University confirmed that the dead birds, which were discovered on Friday, had succumbed to the H5N8 strain. The disease is not dangerous to humans but has a fatality rate of around 30% in chickens.
Around 190,000 ducks at the farm in Biddinghuizen, a neighbouring farm and two associated businesses in Ermelo and Hierden will be slaughtered in an attempt to contain the disease.
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Agency (NVWA) is carrying out tests to see if the disease has spread to other farms in the area, but decided to take preventive action in Biddinghuizen. ‘If we have to wait for the results of an investigation it will take us days,’ a spokesman told NOS.
In the last major outbreak of the disease, in 2003, one-third of the entire Dutch poultry stock had to be destroyed.