Essential measures to contain the highly contagious H5N8 strain of bird flu are set to be adopted by the European Commission. The virus has been detected on a Dutch poultry farm and a British duck breeding facility.
The European Commission is expected to meet on Monday in Brussels to discuss immediate measures to contain the highly contagious H5N8 strain of bird flu. The virus was confirmed on a poultry farm south of Amsterdam in the Netherlands on Sunday.
"The Commission is expected to adopt … a decision with urgent interim protective measures in relation to this outbreak," said Commission spokesman, Ricardo Cardoso.
The decision will describe the zones established by the Dutch authorities around the infected poultry farm where it will be forbidden to sell live poultry, eggs, poultry meat and other poultry products to other European Union member states and third countries.
The Dutch government has already implemented their own stringent measures by imposing a 72-hour ban on the transport of all poultry products across the whole country and a 10-kilometer (six mile) transport ban on the affected farm, which will last 30 days. All 150,000 chickens on the farm in the village of Hekendorp will also be slaughtered by agriculture inspectors.
Despite the particular strain of the virus being highly pathogenic for birds, a spokesman for the Netherlands' Ministry for Economic Affairs, Jan van Diepen, has played down the risks to human health. "For people it's not that dangerous: you'd only get it if you were in very close contact with the birds," he said.
Virus on British duck farm
Later on Sunday, the same strain of bird flu was also detected at a duck breeding farm in the northern English county of Yorkshire. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it had set up a restriction zone around the farm and was culling all poultry on the facility to prevent any spread of infection.
The UK's Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said on Monday that the detected virus was not the deadly H5N1 strain.
"On the basis of what we know of the strain to date, Public Health England has said that this strain does not present a threat to public health," Gibbins added.
Earlier this month, 30,000 German turkeys were also destroyed after the H5N8 strain of bird flu was detected on a farm in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Previously, the H5N8 strain of bird flu had mainly been found in South Korea, where its discovery led to the slaughter of thousands of birds in four separate culls.
According to Reuters, around 10,000 chickens were also put down in March after a less contagious strain of bird flu was detected at a farm in the east of the Netherlands.
ksb/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa)