Bird flu at Friesland poultry farm takes cull total to 800,000

Some 177,000 chickens have been culled in the latest outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu strain at a poultry farm in Blija in Friesland.

Another 45,000 chickens at a farm 100 metres away and owned by the same farmer, were also killed as a preventive measure by Dutch food safety authority NVWA.

Three poultry farms within three kilometres of the stricken farms are being monitored and all movements to and from 10 other farms within a 10 kilometre range have been banned.

The outbreak started at an organic poultry farm in Zeeland in October last year and was preceded by reports of a rise in dead wild birds. Outgoing agriculture minister Carola Schouten then initiated national measures to prevent the disease from spreading.

Officials had hoped that by keeping poultry indoors wild birds would not be able to transmit the disease to other farms. Zoos, petting zoos and people who keep birds as a hobby also had to make sure there was no contact with wild birds and their faeces.

However, the current epidemic is the worst that has ever struck Europe. In the Netherlands alone some 800,000 birds have been killed so far, including those that were put down as a precaution, according to government figures.

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