Dutch authorities cull 190,000 ducks to contain bird flu outbreak

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Dutch authorities have culled 190,000 ducks in a farm in the central Netherlands where inspectors have confirmed the presence of a highly infectious strain of bird flu.

Officials and local media said on Sunday that the outbreak was detected at a farm in Biddinghuizen, located about 70 kilometers west of Amsterdam.

The Dutch food and safety watchdog NVWA said in a statement that about 180,000 ducks were put down together with another 10,000 within a one-kilometer radius.

“There are three other poultry farms within a three-kilometer radius and they are being monitored,” the statement said.

The statement added that authorities had imposed a ban on poultry and poultry product transport within a 10-kilometer radius.

Meanwhile, public newscaster NOS said tests indicated that the birds were killed by an H5N8 variant of the disease “which is highly infectious” for poultry, killing about 30 percent of infected birds, but not “very dangerous to humans.”

Earlier this month, the Netherlands banned duck hunting and shuttered petting zoos as it stepped up measures to stem a bird flu outbreak.

The outbreak has been blamed for killing more than a thousand wild birds across the European country.

A park in the western port of Rotterdam closed its animal section after several aquatic birds were found to have died from the H5N8 virus.

Local news reports said about 1,250 wild birds were found dead on the banks of Lake Markermeer, close to Amsterdam, earlier this month.

Health authorities destroyed some 30 million birds in an effort to quash an outbreak after avian flu severely hit the Netherlands in 2003.

The H5N8 virus is highly contagious in birds but it has never been found in humans. In 2014, the virus led to massive poultry culling in the European Union.

Since first appearing in 2003, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 420 people, mainly in southeastern Asia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), another strain of bird flu, the H7N9, has claimed more than 200 lives since its outbreak in 2013.