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Avian flu outbreaks continue in Europe and Asia

South Korean health officials bury chickens at a poultry farm where the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus broke out in Haenam, South Korea, November 17, 2016. Picture taken on November 17, 2016. Yonhap/via REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The highly pathogenic H5N8 virus, known as avian flu, has been reported in recent days in outbreaks on a poultry farm in the Netherlands, in wild birds in Finland and among village birds in a southwestern state of India.

Some 190,000 ducks were destroyed on Saturday at six farms in the Netherlands following an avian flu outbreak, the country's first cull of an epidemic sweeping northern Europe.

Outbreaks of avian flu, primarily the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain, have been reported in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden over the past week.

Dutch authorities did not say what strain of the virus had been discovered at a poultry farm in the village Biddinghuizen, some 70 km (43 miles) east of Amsterdam.

The cull was implemented at four other sites owned by the same company and at a sixth farm less than a kilometer from the site of the confirmed outbreak.

Officials said they were checking for bird flu at farms within three kilometers of the original site and imposed a ban on transporting poultry products within a 10-km (six-mile) radius.

The world's second-largest agricultural exporter, the Netherlands has more than 100 million hens, pigs, cows and sheep on high-intensity farms. The density makes the animals more vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

Since 1997, 40 million hens, cows, goats, pigs and sheep have been slaughtered to contain outbreaks including swine flu, foot-and-mouth and "mad cow" disease.

The first confirmed case of H5N8 bird flu has been detected in Finland amid a recent outbreak of the disease in Europe, the Finnish Food Safety authority said on Friday.

The highly pathogenic H5N8 virus was found in wild birds in the Aland islands in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden, the office said in a statement.

The government on Friday ordered poultry farmers to keep flocks indoors to avoid the disease spreading.

India has reported an outbreak of the bird flu virus in the southwestern state of Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health said on Friday, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.

The H5N8 virus was confirmed among birds in the village of Itagi, and all 1,593 of the birds at risk from the disease died or were culled, according to the report posted by the Paris-based OIE.

No details were given on the type of birds or location involved.

The H5N8 bird flu strain has been found in several countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia in recent weeks, leading some states to order poultry flocks to be kept indoors.

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