Dutch authorities have found antibodies of a low-pathogenic strain of bird flu in a pullet rearing farm in the province of Gelderland.
They discovered the farm as a result of a mandatory monitoring program, which has been in place since the major bird flu outbreak that hit the Netherlands in 2003. PCR testing diagnosed the farm positive, and a serology test will conclude what strain infected the birds.
The ministry said in a statement that it was an H7 virus, but a much less hazardous variety than the H7N7 strain found in 2003. As yet, no relationship to wild bird populations has been established.
Sampling and testing of nearby farms has not uncovered any further evidence of a spreading of the virus. All pullets on the suspect farm have been culled, while three contact farms have been quarantined.
The Netherlands is a world top poultry exporter and Europe’s second biggest producer after France.
Dutch authorities have never reported any cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain found in several European Union countries.
The Netherlands was hit by the H7N7 avian flu strain in 2003, leading to the culling of around 30 million birds, about a third of the Dutch poultry flock.