World Bulletin/News Desk
Dutch authorities said on Sunday they had found a highly contagious strain of bird flu at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands and set about destroying 150,000 chickens.
The strain, H5N8, has never been detected in humans, but an outbreak in South Korea meant millions of farm birds had to be slaughtered to contain the outbreak. Cases have also been reported in China and Japan, although the strain was first reported in Europe, on a German farm, in early November.
The Netherlands imposed a 72-hour ban on transportation of poultry products, including birds, eggs, dung and used straw to and from poultry farms across the country, which is the world's leading egg exporter.
The European Commission said it expected to adopt urgent interim protective measures on Monday to contain the outbreak, including a ban on selling poultry products from the affected areas to EU and third countries.
Between them, Dutch poultry farms sell more than 6 billion eggs abroad every year, though it is not known how many of the 697 farms are exporters. Germany is the largest destination, at 75 percent of all exports, figures published by Rabobank showed. The Netherlands is also a leading poultry exporter.
Agricultural inspectors started destroying the 150,000 chickens at the farm in the village of Hekendorp, and banned poultry transport across the whole of the Netherlands.
"It's a highly pathogenic strain for birds," said Dutch Economics Ministry spokesman Jan van Diepen. "For people it's not that dangerous: you'd only get it if you were in very close contact with the birds."
The farm at Hekendorp sold eggs rather than poultry, another spokesman said.
Produce from the farm was sold primarily in the Netherlands, the farm's owner Piet Wiltenburg said, with some also exported to Germany. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with that produce," he told Reuters.
Some 10,000 chickens were destroyed in March after bird flu was found at a farm in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland, but the country has not had cases of any of the highly contagious H5 or H7 strains of bird flu in the past 10 years, according to data from the World Organisation for Animal Health.
The transportation ban will remain in force for 30 days for the 16 poultry farms within a 10 kilometre radius of the site of the outbreak, and all of them will be subject to enhanced security measures for visitors and regularly checked for signs of bird flu.
The Commission's decision to ban the selling of poultry products from the affected areas identified by the Dutch authorities to other countries is a standard procedure in the case of bird flu outbreaks, it said.
In September, Russia reported the first cases of H5N1, another dangerous strain, in nearly two years.
The head of the Venezuelan Supreme Court and the chief of the intelligence agency are also blacklisted, diplomatic sources said, making them subject to asset freezes and travel bans.
Army frequently carries out sweeping arrest campaigns in occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem
Icy roads contribute to at least 4 fatalities, fifth death attributed to exposure
Republican leadership eyes Thursday vote on stopgap bill, but passage is uncertain without Democratic support
Border patrol also harasses and uses violence against volunteers, who provide aid, reports say
Pentagon and U.S.-led coalition contradicted with each other on function of PYD/PKK-led SDF forces in Syria
Lee, a naturalized US citizen also known as Zhen Cheng Li, was arrested late Monday after he arrived at JFK International Airport in New York.
Israeli forces first detained al-Tamimi on Dec. 19 during an overnight raid
If France recognizes Palestine as a state, more countries will follow it, says Luxembourg FM
U.S. said Tuesday it was suspending a total of $65 million in aid to Palestine
Reason for crash not yet known, defense minister says
Electoral coalitions in Iraq are often formed based on sectarian and ethnic lines
Al-Aqsa officials are warned not to carry out any renovation work at flashpoint holy site, local official says
Rescue team has not ruled out possibility of locating more bodies
Israeli officials say Gaza economy was “like from zero to below zero”