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Netherlands

Dutch officials cull almost 200,000 ducks amid bird flu outbreak

Hundreds of thousands of ducks at farms in the Netherlands have been killed as part of measures to contain a bird flu outbreak. The disease has been blamed for killing more than a thousand wild birds in the country.

Some 190,000 ducks have been killed in the central Netherlands after inspectors confirmed that birds at several farms had died from avian flu, officials and local media said on Sunday, confirming an announcement the day before by the Economy Ministry.

Public newscaster NOS said tests had indicated that the dead ducks had been killed by an H5N8 variant of the disease, "which is highly infectious for poultry," but not "very dangerous to humans."

 The H5N8 variant kills some 30 percent of infected birds, making it a scourge for poultry farmers.

The overwhelming majority of the ducks were killed at a farm in Biddinghuizen, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, with another 10,000 birds located within a 1-kilometer radius also put down, the Dutch food and safety watchdog NVWA said.

Vogelgrippe in den Niederlanden (Symbolbild) (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Sauer)

Authorities have also imposed a ban on poultry and poultry product transport within a 10 kilometer radius of the affected area

It said in a statement that three other poultry farms within a 3-kilometer radius were being monitored for the disease.

Widespread outbreak

Earlier this month, Dutch authorities closed down petting zoos and banned duck hunting amid an outbreak that has also affected a number of other European countries, including Germany.

About 1,250 wild birds were found dead on the banks of Lake Markermeer, near Amsterdam, earlier this month, according to local news reports.

A 2003 outbreak of the disease in the Netherlands, a major poultry-producing country, saw health authorities putting down some 30 million birds in a bid to control the disease.

tj/jlw (dpa, AFP)

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