Infectious Diseases 2004

Infectious Diseases 2004

Dutch cull birds in 3rd find of avian influenza signs

20 March, 2004

The Dutch government has ordered some 1000 birds culled at a farm in the south, the 3rd time in a week that tests have shown signs of antibodies to a mild strain of avian influenza.
The farm in Steenbergen had links to a farm in Lopik, in the centre of the country, where the authorities on Wed, 16 Mar 2004, ordered the culling of 600 ducks, after antibodies showed up that could indicate the birds were in contact with the contagious virus.
The ministry suspected the antibodies developed after the 2 farms had imported ducks. "The source may have been 2 shipments of a total of 2500 ducks from abroad. We suspect that they may have been carriers of a low pathogenic strain of the virus," Nienke van der Zee, a spokeswoman at the agriculture ministry, said.
5 other farms, which also received ducks from the 2 shipments, are still under investigation. Test results may come on Friday or over the weekend, Van der Zee said. She declined to identify the country that had exported the ducks.
The 1st detected farm, in Eemsmond (Groningen), included (22 000) free-range chickens. No symptoms were seen; the serological test indicated an H7 avian influenza virus strain, most likely of low pathogenicity. The 2nd farm, in Lopik (Utrecht), included 800 free-range ducks. The serological test indicated an H5 avian influenza virus strain, most likely of low pathogenicity.
The samplings, which have led to the detection of the said 2 infected holdings, are part of the national Dutch surveillance programme, in which blood samples are annually taken from all poultry farms, country-wide. Free-range holdings are sampled each quarter, since they may come in contact with wild birds that are potential carriers of the low-pathogenic AI virus variants. So far, 1000 poultry holdings have been tested.
At Steenbergen, 442 ducks, 531 chickens, 5 turkeys, 9 geese, and 77 doves were culled.
Russia on Wednesday suspended poultry and poultry product imports from the Netherlands to prevent the spread of bird flu, The Netherlands has the right to export poultry meat to Russia within a 205 000-tonne quota issued to the European Union together with countries that plan to join the bloc in 2004.
The Netherlands is the European Union's largest poultry exporter (Reuters).