Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Netherlands Reinstates Nationwide Poultry Lockdown Following Two H5N1 Outbreaks



Less than two weeks ago the Netherlands revoked the last of their avian flu poultry restrictions after reporting no outbreaks since last July and few reports of the virus in wild birds across Europe.  Their Animal Diseases Expert Group estimated the risk of contamination of a poultry farm to be low.

Three days ago (Nov 11th) avian flu was detected in Renswoude ( province of Utrecht) resulting in the immediate culling of 65,000 birds, followed by the announcement today of a second, smaller outbreak in Middelie (province of North Holland).

These two outbreaks have forced the nation to reinstate many of their recently relaxed restrictions. A translation of today's announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality follows:

Bird flu diagnosed in Middelie, national lockdown requirement reinstated

News item | 14-11-2023 | 5:00 PM

In Middelie (municipality of Edam-Volendam, province of North Holland), bird flu has been diagnosed on a care farm. To prevent the spread of the virus, the 180 chickens at the location are being culled by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Due to this second outbreak in a short period of time, the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) has decided to impose a containment and shielding obligation at a national level.
Storage duty

Given this is the second infection in the Netherlands in a short period of time and the increase in the number of infections in the European Union, the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality has decided to reinstate the containment and shielding obligation for the whole of the Netherlands. The cage obligation applies to all commercially kept birds and the shielding obligation applies to non-commercially kept risk birds (for example chickens kept as a hobby). The shielding and enclosure obligation is an effective preventive measure to prevent new infections and reduce the chance of contact between wild infected birds and kept birds.

This second infection in a short period of time is a major setback given the recently assessed low risk. Low risk does not mean zero risk and risk assessment always has a degree of uncertainty. In recent years it has become apparent that the course of the bird flu epidemic is unpredictable. This outbreak fits into that unpredictable pattern. The outbreaks in Renswoude and Middelie show that the virus is apparently circulating in wild birds in certain places in the Netherlands.
Transport ban

There are no other poultry farms within the 1, 3 and 10 kilometer zone. A transport ban applies immediately within the 10-kilometer area. Where exactly this is can be seen on the animal diseases viewer of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

A transport ban applies to all birds and breeding and consumption eggs from a location with birds. The ban also applies to bird manure and used litter, and to other animals and animal products from poultry farms.
Other national measures

National measures apply, such as a ban on visiting bird habitats of risk birds, unless this is necessary. Risk birds include domesticated gallinaceous birds (such as chickens), waterfowl and flightless birds.

Due to the outbreak in Renswoude on November 11, the containment and shielding obligation was reinstated for regions 7 and 10. The containment and shielding obligation now applies again to the whole of the Netherlands.
Traceability research

In the context of the contamination at this location, a tracing investigation into high-risk contacts is being conducted as usual. If necessary, additional measures will be taken based on the results of the investigation. These possible additional measures will be reported via an update in this press release and via the online channels of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).

Today's announcement - along with recent increases in poultry farm outbreaks across Europe and in North America (see chart below) - is a reminder of just how much HPAI H5 there is in the environment, being carried by both migratory and non-migratory birds. 

This fall return of avian flu also raises the risks to non-avian species, including household pets like dogs and cats, who may encounter infected birds (or contaminated environments) outside the home. 

While the risks of pet owners contracting avian flu from their cat (or dog) remains low, it is not zero.  The CDC maintains a website for pet owners which has the following advice. 

If your domestic animals (e.g., cats or dogs) go outside and could potentially eat or be exposed to sick or dead birds infected with bird flu viruses, or an environment contaminated with bird flu virus, they could become infected with bird flu. While it’s unlikely that you would get sick with bird flu through direct contact with your infected pet, it is possible.

For example, in 2016, the spread of bird flu from a cat to a person was reported in NYC The person who was infected [2.29 MB, 4 pages] was a veterinarian who had mild flu symptoms after prolonged exposure to sick cats without using personal protective equipment.

If your pet is showing signs of illness compatible with bird flu virus infection and has been exposed to infected (sick or dead) wild birds/poultry, you should monitor your health for signs of fever or infection.
Take precautions to prevent the spread of bird flu.

As a general precaution, people should avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe wild birds only from a distance, whenever possible. People should also avoid contact between their pets (e.g., pet birds, dogs and cats) with wild birds.
Don’t touch sick or dead birds, their feces or litter, or any surface or water source (e.g., ponds, waterers, buckets, pans, troughs) that might be contaminated with their saliva, feces, or any other bodily fluids without wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). More information about specific precautions to take for preventing the spread of bird flu viruses between animals and people is available at

Additional information about the appropriate PPE to wear is available at Backyard Flock Owners: Take Steps to Protect Yourself from Avian Influenza