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Dutch to cull 127,500 hens in a bird flu scare

ForexMar 25, 2011 11:20AM ET
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* More tests to show if strain was high-pathogenic

* Poultry transport banned within 1 km zone around farm

AMSTERDAM, March 25 (Reuters) - Dutch authorities said on Friday they will cull about 127,500 egg-laying hens on a farm in the south of the country after the H7 bird flu strain was detected.

The virus was reported at a farm in the village Schore in Zeeland province, around 170 kilometres south-west of Amsterdam near the border with Belgium, the Dutch ministry for economic affairs, agriculture and innovation said in a statement.

Authorities imposed a ban on transporting poultry and eggs in an area of 1 kilometre around the farm, the statement said.

The government said more tests will be conducted to indicate whether the H7 strain was low-pathogenic or a more dangerous high-pathogenic strain. The results will be available later on Friday.

The most devastating outbreak of H7N7 avian flu strain in the Netherlands was in 2003 and led to the culling of 30 million birds, about a third of the nation's poultry flock.

H7 bird flu in its highly pathogenic form can kill large numbers of birds and can occasionally infect people, although it is rarely fatal in humans.

According to 2009 government figures there are approximately 32 million egg-laying hens in the Netherlands in addition to 46 million chicken grown for meat production.

The Netherlands produces around 9.7 billion eggs annually, accounting for more than 7 percent of the total European Union production.

Its biggest export market is Germany, which buys two thirds of its total egg exports. (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac, editing by Jane Baird)

Dutch to cull 127,500 hens in a bird flu scare
 

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