Bird flu at Dutch poultry farms in 2020

Published on
November 22, 2020

Bird flu (H5) has been diagnosed at a laying hen farm in Hekendorp (municipality of Oudewater, province of Utrecht). It is probably a highly pathogenic variant of bird flu. This is being further investigated by Wageningen Bioveterinary Research. There are no other poultry farms within a radius of 1 kilometer around the company. To prevent the virus from spreading, the company is culled. In total, this concerns approximately 100,000 animals in the laying and rearing stables of the company. The culling is carried out by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

There is 1 other poultry farm in the area of ​​3 kilometers around the infected farm in Hekendorp. This company is empty and is therefore not sampled and screened.

There are 10 other poultry farms in the 10 kilometer zone around this farm. The transport ban applies to this zone. A transport ban covers poultry, eggs, poultry manure and used bedding, as well as other animals and certain products from commercial poultry companies.

Overview of previously infected poultry

Below is an overview of previous bird flu infections on commercial poultry farms in the Netherlands.

Location Type of farm Number of animals Type Date test result
Witmarsum Broilers 90,000 HPAI H5N8 21 November
Terwolde Ducks 20,000 HPAI H5N8 13 November
Lutjegast Laying hens 48,000 HPAI H5N8 10 November
Puiflijk Laying hens 100,000 HPAI H5N8 5 November
Altforst Broiler breeders 35,700 HPAI H5N8 29 October


All current national measures, such as the obligation to house commercially kept poultry, will remain in full force. In addition, zoos, petting zoos and hobby bird owners are required to shield their poultry and waterfowl so that these animals do not come into contact with wild waterfowl and their droppings. This can be done, for example, by keeping the animals in an aviary or by placing them in a run. The zoos and children's farms can be visited. The existing hygiene protocol for visitors to visit commercial poultry farms is being expanded. This means, among other things, that visitors are only allowed to enter the stable or yard after taking strict hygiene measures.

Furthermore, a ban has been imposed on the display of ornamental poultry and water birds.

With the measures taken, wild birds are separated from commercially reared poultry as far as possible to prevent further spread of the virus as best as possible.

Multiple types of avian flu in the Netherlands

Highly pathogenic avian influenza type H5N8 was found on all farms. The majority of dead wild birds were also infected with the H5N8 virus. However, highly pathogenic H5N1 or H5N5 viruses were detected in a few birds. These viruses are related to the H5N8 virus and are the result of exchange of genetic material with low pathogenic avian flu viruses. The H5N1 virus in the Netherlands is therefore not related to the H5N1 virus that infected people in Asia. The risk to public health from the viruses in the Netherlands is estimated to be low.

Wild birds

In particular in the north and west of the Netherlands, many sick or dead wild birds are currently found that test positive for avian flu. These birds are sent and examined. The advice is not to pick up dead birds yourself, but to report this to the Dutch Wildlife Health Center or the NVWA. Every week the NVWA places an update on the website where dead wild birds are found that are infected with the virus. Or see the overview map by WBVR elsewhere on this page.