Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) has confirmed yet another outbreak of bird flu in the Netherlands. In Heeten, highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 was found in ornamental waterfowl of a hobby farmer. To prevent the virus from spreading, all 665 birds at the infected location have been culled by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).
This outbreak shows that the H5 avian influenza virus is still present in the Netherlands. It is important to remain alert for symptoms in wild birds and to report dead wild birds to the NVWA. For poultry farmers, a good biosecurity status and alertness to possible infections remain of great importance.
The Dutch government has announced an immediate transport ban in a zone of 10 kilometres around the farm in Heeten. There are 36 other poultry farms in this area. A transport ban applies to poultry, eggs, poultry manure and litter, but also to other animals and animal products from poultry farms.
Overview of previous Dutch farms with bird flu
Below is an overview of previous bird flu infections on commercial poultry farms in the Netherlands in 2020/2021.
|Location||Type of farm||Number of animals||Type||Date test result|
|Weert||Turkeys||13,000||HPAI H5N8||21 May 2021|
|Sint-Oedenrode||Laying hens||35,000||HPAI H5N8||22 Feb 2021|
|Moergestel||Turkeys||18,000||HPAI H5N8||5 Jan 2021|
|Buitenpost||Breeding farm - chickens||28,000||HPAI H5N1*||15 Dec 2020|
|Sint Annaparochie||Broilers||21,000||HPAI H5N8||7 Dec 2020|
|Maasland||Chickens||500||HPAI H5N8||5 Dec 2020|
|Hekendorp||Laying hens||100,000||HPAI H5N8||22 Nov 2020|
|Witmarsum||Broilers||90,000||HPAI H5N8||21 Nov 2020|
|Terwolde||Meat ducks||20,000||HPAI H5N8||13 Nov 2020|
|Lutjegast||Laying hens||48,000||HPAI H5N8||10 Nov 2020|
|Puiflijk||Laying hens||100,000||HPAI H5N8||5 Nov 2020|
|Altforst||Broiler breeders||35,700||HPAI H5N8||29 Oct 2020|
HPAI = highly pathogenic avian influenza
The obligation to house commercially kept poultry is withdrawn. It is still very important that appropriate hygiene measures are taken to minimise the risk of infection. For keepers of laying hens, breeding animals and broilers a stricter reporting obligation stays in place. They must report the loss of animals to the NVWA sooner. This allows bird flu infections to come to light earlier and reduces the risk of spreading.
Housing requirement withdrawn
The requirement to keep commercial poultry indoors was lifted on 6 July 2021. As a result of the outbreak in Heeten, the government has asked the expert group on Animal Diseases for a risk assessment for this region and for the whole of the Netherlands. The experts conclude that the risk has not changed since the last risk assessment. The government therefore sees no reason at this time to take additional measures, such as a regional or national obligation to keep animals indoors. All parties involved, including WBVR, will keep a close eye on the bird migration season and, if necessary, tighten the requirements at a later date. The monitoring of dead wild birds is ongoing in the Netherlands, and the monitoring of live wild birds will be started.