Bird flu concerns mount in poultry sector

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The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs implemented extra measures to prevent bird flu spreading from wild birds to the poultry sector in the Netherlands. Agricultural and horticultural organization LTO supports the extra measures, but worry that they will be in place for months.

After highly pathogenic bird flu H5N8 was found in wild birds in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland last week, the Ministry ordered all Dutch poultry caged. Now the Ministry decided that only the necessary people are allowed to enter poultry stables. And owners of petting zoos, zoos and hobby bird keepers must ensure that visitors do not come into contact with the birds, NOS reports.

The Ministry also banned the exhebition of ornamental poultry and waterfowl. This particularly affects the Friesland poultry- and rabbit breeding association Burgum and surroundings, who has an exhebition starting later this week. According to board member Johannes Dijkstra, the measure halves the number of animals on display. Despite losing out on revenues, he understands the measure. "Prevention is better than cure", he said to the broadcaster. 

The increased measures follow the discovery of dead, infected birds around IJsselmeer and Rotterdam. In Gouwzee and Monnikendam alone more than 1,250 dead birds were found in recent days.

Eric Hubers of LTO believes the chances of the disease spreading to poultry farms is now so big that these measures are absolutely necessary, he said to NOS. With the outbreak in 2014 the authorities had to go look for bird flu in the feces of wild birds. "Now the birds fall dead. This indicates that the virus is very contagious", Huber said. He expects that the indoor confinement measure will be in place for months.

According to Hubers, all Dutch poultry farmers are taking the measures very seriously - the bird flu outbreaks in the Netherlands in 2013 and 2014 showed the impact it can have. "Therefore everyone is taking these extreme measures", he said. 

The measures will remain in place for as long as there is a risk, State Secretary Martijn van Dam of Economic Affairs said to NOS. Should the disease spreaad to commercial poultyr, further measures will be implemented. "Then we can, for example, temporarily halt all transports of poultry in the Netherlands. Then we can set up areas subject to additional restrictions. But I hope of courset that it won't be necessary."



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