Dutch authorities will kill 168,000 chickens after discovering what they suspect is the highly-contagious H5N1 strain of bird flu, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Almost a million chickens have been killed in the Netherlands this year after bird flu outbreaks. Dutch authorities recently killed 216,000 baby chickens after finding bird flu at two farms.
At the beginning of the year, authorities killed 411,000 chickens. “And the mass destruction of chickens continues,” Dutch animal welfare organization Eyes on Animals said on Twitter when authorities announced the killing in the first week of January.
Governments in Europe and Asia are struggling with bird flu outbreaks, and their only solution is mass killing, usually by gassing the animals.
The Dutch government ordered farmers last October to keep their animals inside to control the virus. Since then, the animals have been in ‘lockdown’ and haven’t been allowed to roam outside, not even free-range chickens.
The highly pathogenic, sickening form of bird flu (H5N1) emerged due to intensive bird farming, virologist Thijs Kuiken of Erasmus University Rotterdam told Dutch media.
“Normally, wild birds only carry the low-pathogenic variant. In intensive poultry farming, this mild flu mutated into a serious variant,” Kuiken said.
“We have to realize that the intensive way of raising animals, with a huge number of animals huddled together in one spot, is no longer sustainable for many reasons,” Kuiken added.
“This is the largest outbreak ever,” politician Tjeerd de Groot told Dutch media. The current bird flu variant worries him. “We see that the variant now also affects mammals. Every time the virus mutates, the risk for humans changes with it. Just like with COVID-19.”
Seals, foxes, otters and humans have been infected with bird flu in Europe.
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