Avian Influenza in The Netherlands

Several outbreaks of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) have recently (2013) been reported from the north of The Netherlands. The most interesting aspect of these outbreaks in poultry was that the disease causing agent was varied and this year alone the country experienced Influenza A(H7N7), Influenza A(H7N1) and Influenza A(H5N3).

The cause is officially unclear but The Netherlands are part of an important route for migrating birds. The Wadden Sea is an official World Heritage Site and millions of birds rest and feed there an route to and from the chilly northern Russian plains and the warmer climes of southern Europe or the sub-Sahara.
[Foto: www.wageningenur.nl]
The excrement of infected birds is most likely the direct cause of the outbreaks, simply because these outbreaks always seem to occur in the spring and in the autumn. These are the exact periods when large flocks migrating birds pass over The Netherlands.

Because Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) can easily mutate into Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), the authorities rightfully decided to cull all chickens in the affected poultry farms.

But the Dutch will remain vigilant because these outbreaks of Influenza A are an accident waiting to happen. Consumers increasingly want to have meat from free-range chickens and pigs on their menu. Both are excellent mixing vessels for a new and potentially lethal Influenza virus.

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