Dutch kill 8500 ducks after bird flu outbreak

Yellow baby ducks and one darker duck lying close together on wood chirps, animal news
Baby ducks, photo: Hodag Media via Canva

At a farm in Lunteren in the Netherlands, 8,500 ducks were killed after bird flu was found in some animals, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) said on Wednesday. 

There are 49 other bird farms in the immediate vicinity, which are closely monitored, the NVWA said.

Since the government ordered farmers to keep their birds inside to prevent bird flu from spreading in October, all chickens, turkeys, ducks and other farm birds have been kept indoors; the animals, including free range, have not been allowed any fresh air for almost six months.

According to the NVWA, the variant of bird flu found in Lunteren is probably the highly pathogenic variant of bird flu. It is highly contagious and deadly to birds. 

Bird flu can also make people sick. The NVWA recommends taking measures and wearing protective clothing in the vicinity of infected animals: “Especially mouth caps are important so that you do not breathe contaminated air”. 

Intensive farming and bird flu
Industrial chicken, turkey and duck factories are why bird flu has become deadlier and spread faster through Europe and Asia, environmental organizations and experts said.

“There [industrial bird farms], the conditions are ideal for the proliferation of these viruses,” environmental organization Greenpeace said. “Large farms are a source of infection for these birds.”

Dutch virologist Thijs Kuiken also said that the highly pathogenic, sickening form of bird flu (H5N1) emerged due to intensive bird farming: “Normally, wild birds only carry the low-pathogenic variant. In intensive poultry farming, this mild flu mutated into a serious variant.”

“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.

The Animal Reader is a small independent animal news platform based in the Netherlands. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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