Dutch poultry ordered indoors after bird flu outbreak

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The Hague (AFP)

The Dutch government on Friday ordered poultry farmers across the country to keep their livestock indoors after an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu on a duck farm led to 16,000 birds being slaughtered.

"Because it possibly involves a highly contagious variant (of bird flu), a containment order has been instituted," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

The measure "is being taken as a precaution to avoid further contamination" after a case of highly contagious type H5 bird flu was discovered at a farm in central Netherlands.

Zoos and pet owners should also avoid contact between their birds and wild water birds and bird waste, the department said.

It has also put in place a 10-kilometre (six-mile) transport ban around the farm, including the movement of poultry, eggs and waste.

Dutch poultry farmers, already reeling from a contaminated egg scandal, were dealt a new blow in October over an outbreak of bird flu which saw thousands of hens destroyed.

Since August the Dutch poultry industry has been at the centre of the egg scandal, which has 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 made its way into eggs after being used in poultry farms to combat lice.