The Netherlands has carried out a mass culling of chickens, after at least two poultry farms detected a highly contagious strain of bird flu.
Health workers killed around 100,000 hens at a poultry farm in a village located in the Dutch province of Utrecht. An additional 90,000 chicks were culled in the northern part of the country.
The Dutch agriculture ministry said in both cases “a highly contagious strain of the H5 variant” of bird flu was suspected. The two farms have since been cleared to continue operations.
The culling comes a month after Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten ordered an indoor containment of all animals on commercial poultry farms, following the discovery of two dead swans that tested positive for the similarly contagious H5N8 bird flu.
The Dutch are no strangers to bird flu-related cullings. In November 2016, 190,000 ducks were slaughtered at six farms, following the discovery of the virus in a village located 70km (43 miles) east of Amsterdam.
The Avian flu virus usually doesn’t infect people, but animal to human transmission has been recorded in the past. Contagious strains of the virus can spread quickly among bird species, sickening or killing the infected animal.
Like many countries, the Netherlands has become more proactive about potential public health dangers as it struggles to contain a second wave of coronavirus. The nation reported more than 6,000 new positive tests on Saturday.
Earlier this month, Danish authorities ordered the culling of the country’s 17 million farmed minks, which are raised for their fur, after a mutated version of Covid-19 was found to have spread from the animals to humans. Denmark’s agriculture minister resigned over the order, which was initially ruled to be unlawful. However, the government has moved ahead with the plans, arguing that it could seek legal grounds for the culling retroactively.
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