The movement of poultry, eggs and bird manure has been halted throughout the Netherlands for 72 hours following the discovery of a highly infectious variant of bird flu at a chicken farm in Hekendorp, south of Utrecht.
The virus is of the type H5N8 which can infect humans who have intensive contact with the birds and give them flu-type symptoms, junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijsma said in a briefing to MPs on Sunday evening.
Poultry farmers have been ‘surprised and shocked’ by the outbreak, national farming association LTO chairman Eric Hubers said. However, the area where the disease has been found has relatively few poultry farms, reducing the chance of it spreading, Hubers said.
The 150,000 battery chickens at the factory farm are being destroyed and health checks are under way at two neighbouring companies. Those results are expected later on Monday.
The last time the Netherlands was hit by this infectious variant of the disease was in 2003.
According to news agency ANP, Brussels may also take measures to stop the spread of the disease. The Netherlands exports some six billion eggs a year, ANP says. The virus has also been identified at a duck farm in northern England and in Germany.
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