Nearly 6 million birds have been destroyed in the Netherlands

Bird Flu

More than 5.8 million birds have been slaughtered in the past year to stem the worst outbreak of bird flu in nearly 20 years.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has found the H5N1 variant of bird flu in 96 poultry farms since it was first detected in Zeewolde on October 26 last year.

In Heythuysen, Limburg, 300,000 birds would have to be “destroyed” in the largest outbreak in a single country so far, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

So a 10-kilometer exclusion zone has been set up around the infected poultry farm, banning 128 other farmers in the area from distributing manure, eggs and other animal products.

A total of 4.7 million birds have been killed on infected farms, while another 1.1 million have been culled to try to prevent further spread of the disease.

The real number is almost certainly higher as NVWA does not monitor small farms with fewer than 50 animals.

The H5N1 strain has been present in Europe since 2005 and is spread by wild birds.

Tourists and locals have been warned to stay away from the dead birds.

The last comparable outbreak of bird flu in the Netherlands was in 2003, when 30 million birds were killed in 255 countries.

The European Center for Disease Prevention says the current outbreak is the worst in the continent’s history, involving 37 countries from Norway to Ukraine.

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