Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Reported in Netherlands, UK

THE NETHERLANDS & UK - Over the weekend, two outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian flu were announced, one each in the Netherlands and East Yorkshire in the UK.
calendar icon 17 November 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

Authorities in the Netherlands have banned the transport of all poultry throughout the country after the bird flu was detected at a farm south of Amsterdam, according to Deutsche Welle. Officials say this particular strain can be transmitted to humans.

The Netherlands' Ministry for Economic Affairs said on 16 November that while testing was still being conducted to determine the exact strain, it was already clear that this was a form of the virus that could pose a danger to people.

"This highly pathogenic variant of avian influenza is very dangerous for bird life," a government statement said. "The disease can be transmitted from animals to humans."

The virus was first detected at a poultry farm in the village of Hekendorp, 65km south of Amsterdam late on 15 November. The authorities said they were in the process of slaughtering all 150,000 birds at the farm. It was not immediately clear how birds at the farm had become infected.

The report adds that the Dutch government has imposed a 72-hour ban on the transport of all poultry products including eggs, manure and used straw to and from all poultry farms in the country.

A subsequent report from Deutsche Welle adds that Dutch authorities have determined that the bird flu detected at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands is the highly contagious H5N8 strain.

This is the same virus that caused an outbreak of bird flu in a flock of turkeys in northern Germany recently.

In the United Kingdom, the Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that highly pathogenic avian influenza is present in England, according to a Defra statement.

A case of avian flu has been confirmed on a duck breeding farm in Yorkshire on 16 November 2014. Immediate action has been taken, including introducing a 10-km restriction zone and culling all poultry on the farm to prevent any potential spread of infection.

On the risk to human health, Defra says some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans but this is very rare. It usually requires very close contact between the human and infected birds.

The Food Standards Agency advises that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The British Poultry Council chief executive, Andrew Large said: "Wide and ongoing surveillance of housed and wild birds in the UK, particularly susceptible waterfowl species, is key. We hope this outbreak has been quickly contained.

"Avian influenza is a disease of birds and the risk to the general public is judged by health experts to be negligible.

"The rapid containment and culling of this outbreak has proved how effective partnership between government and the poultry sector can be. DEFRA, the other agencies involved, and the industry, have dealt with the situation in a rapid and effective way and the controls in place are proportionate to the risk poultry farmers faced."

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

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