Bird flu hits: all Dutch poultry to be caged

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All poultry farmers in the Netherlands were ordered on Wednesday to cage and guard all their birds intended for the production of meat and eggs. This precautionary measure was implemented by State Secretary Martijn van Dam of Economic Affairs after highly pathogenic bird flu H5N8 was found in wild birds in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland, NOS reports. 

About 10 dead grebes and tufted ducs were also found in the Netherands, near Monnickendam. They died of bird flu, though further study will reveal whether it was subtype H5N8. 

Van Dam called on poultry farmers and companies to urgently take extra hygiene measures. Limit the number of visitors and warn the NVWA if you notice symptoms of the disease. This could involve finding several dead water birds in one place. Farmers and hikers are strongly advised not to touch the dead birds - there is no evidence that people can be infected by H5N8, but it can't be completely ruled out, Van Dam wrote to parliament. 

The main reason for the caging order is to prevent this contagious variant of bird flu from spreading from wild animals to poultry. In 2014 there was a massive outbreak of bird flu in the Netherlands. Bird flu is very dangerous for chickens - about 30 percent of infected chickens die from it.

The Dutch poultry union NVP is satisfied with the measures Van Dam announced. A spokesperson told NOS that the union is confident indoor confinement will be effective and expect all poultry farmers to take the instructions seriously.