Outgoing minister Carola Schouten (Agriculture, CU) will immediately introduce a national confinement obligation for all companies that keep commercial poultry. The reason is an outbreak of bird flu at an organic poultry farm in Zeewolde in Flevoland, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality reported on Tuesday. It concerns the highly contagious variant H5. The company’s 36,000 laying hens are culled by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to prevent the virus from spreading.
Recently, according to the ministry, more and more dead wild birds have been found in the north of the Netherlands. Infected wild birds were also found in Germany. Zoos, petting zoos and owners of hobby birds and chickens are required to shield their birds so that they cannot come into contact with sick wild birds or their droppings.
Schouten has imposed a transport ban on nine poultry farms located within ten kilometers of the affected farm in Zeewolde. This applies not only to poultry, but also to other animals and animal products from these companies. Investigations are underway at six poultry farms within three kilometers of the outbreak to determine whether bird flu has also broken out here.
The last time a national confinement obligation was in force in the Netherlands was in February of this year following an outbreak at a turkey farm in Moergestel (North Brabant). This obligation to stay in cages remained in force until 5 July. Also in October 2020, an outbreak led to a national obligation to cage. This started after the highly contagious variant was found in wild mute swans in the Utrecht region.
When deciding in July to discontinue the pens, Schouten emphatically stated that she looked at both animal welfare and the financial situation of the poultry farmers. Last year, the obligation to keep free-range eggs meant that fewer free-range eggs were sold. If the obligation lasts longer than sixteen weeks, an egg may no longer be sold as ‘free range’ according to European rules, but can still be sold as free-range eggs.
Avian flu is spreading rapidly because large groups of wild birds travel long distances. They spread the virus through respiratory tract, eye fluid and their faeces.
In rare cases, people can also get sick from the bird flu virus. This usually only happens after intensive contact with birds and leads to the same complaints as a normal flu, such as headache, fever and cough. If bird flu is found at a poultry farm, the poultry farmers and clearers involved are checked to see if they develop symptoms of the flu.
Chairman Bart-Jan Oplaat of the Dutch Union of Poultry Farmers (NVP) told ANP news agency on Tuesday that he was “hugely shocked” by the discovery of bird flu at the company in Zeewolde. “A cull is a horror for the animals and the company.” Oplaat agrees that a national confinement obligation has been set up by the ministry. Agricultural umbrella organization LTO Nederland agrees with the NVP.
Also read this article: You can’t be too careful with viruses. So how do you predict a bird flu outbreak?
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of October 27, 2021
Outbreak of highly contagious bird flu variant: compulsory indoor confinement for all poultry farms
Source link Outbreak of highly contagious bird flu variant: compulsory indoor confinement for all poultry farms