November 18, 2014


After Netherlands, bird flu outbreak hits British duck farm


An outbreak of bird flu whose strain is believed to be H5N8-the same as that reported to have infected a chicken farm in the central Netherlands earlier on Sunday-hit northern England Monday, authorities said.


The British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said a duck breeding farm in Yorkshire had been shuttered,butdescribed the risk posed by the avian flu to public health as "very low."


"The public health risk is very low and there is no risk to the food chain," Defra saidin a statement.


Some 6,000 ducks in the infected farm were to be culled and a 10-kilometre restriction zone was created around the farm located near Driffield in Yorkshire, which meant any movement of poultry or products in or out of thezone was prohibited.


An Agence France-Presse(AFP) report quoted bird flu expert Ron Fouchieras saying that British authorities had told European authorities that the Yorkshire virus was the same H5N8 strain found in Germany and the Netherlands.


H5N8 wasfirst detected in a farm in Germany's northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on November 4. And then on Sunday, November 16, Dutch authorities announced bird flu had been discoveredin a farm in Hekendorp and that some 150,000 chickens would be destroyed to prevent the spread of the virus.


Lex Denden of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) said, according to the AFP, that the destruction of the 150,000 hens was to be completed on Monday.


In the Netherlands,which is Europe's biggest egg and poultry exporter, authorities imposed a 72-hour ban, starting Sunday, November 16, on the transport of poultry,eggs and bird manure. The bancould last up to 30 days in a 10-kilometre ring around the affected farm, the authorities added.


Theysaid 16 other farms in the area would be tested for the bird flu strain. On Monday Denden said two farms had already been declared disease-free.


The AFP cited a source who said "more outbreaks" could be possible in other countries like France, Spain and Italy as the "disease might have come from swans migrating from north to south."


Some strains of avian flu are fatal for chickens, and humans can fall sick after handling infected poultry.