THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch poultry farmers, already left reeling by a contaminated egg scandal, were in a new flap Friday (Oct 13) over an outbreak of bird flu with thousands of hens to be destroyed.
"An outbreak of a variant of H5 bird flu has been detected in a poultry farm in Zeeland province," Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp said.
All 42,000 egg-laying hens in the southern Netherlands farm will have to be culled "to stop the disease spreading" in accordance with European regulations, he added in a statement.
"A mild pathogenic variant of H5 can mutuate into a very contagious and deadly strain for chickens, therefore in all such cases the animals have to be put down."
The ministry also ordered an immediate ban on the transportation of poultry, eggs, meat and manure within a 1km zone around the farm located in the village of Sint Philipsland, although there are no other poultry farms in the area.
It is a new blow for the Dutch poultry industry which since August has been at the centre of a tainted egg scandal that spread across several European countries and even as far as Hong Kong.
Millions of eggs were dumped, and some 3.2 million chickens were killed after the banned insecticide fipronil was found to have been used in poultry farms to combat lice, but had made its way into eggs.
Some 267 Dutch poultry farms are still closed, awaiting the all-clear from health officials to resume production.