HIGHLY PATHOGENIC H5N8 avian influenza has been discovered in wild birds in the Netherlands.

The Dutch ministry for agriculture confirmed that two wild mute swans tested positive for the virus in Kockengen, a village in the province of Utrecht in the North West of the country.

See also: Warning over avian influenza returning to Europe this winter

It announced the finding late on Wednesday, 21 October.

Minister Carola Schouten said she had asked the country’s animal diseases expert group to assess the risk to poultry producers in the country.

She would then decide whether follow up steps were necessary.


The finding confirms the fears of European authorities that outbreaks in western Russia and Kazakhstan this summer could mean migrating birds brought the disease back to the continent.

Several studies have demonstrated that cold weather conditions led to the rapid westward expansion of the HPAI virus by infected migratory birds during the 2005-2006 and 2016-2017 waves of HPAI.

It has not been confirmed to date, however, that is the case with this latest outbreak.


Last week Defra launched its seasonal awareness campaign, encouraging smallholders commercial poultry producers alike to step up biosecurity.

Daniel Dring, of PD Hook Hatcheries, said at the time: “Having had first-hand experience of avian influenza, I know all keepers must maintain the highest standards of biosecurity to keep disease off premises.

“The impact of avian influenza financially and on the people looking after their birds can be devastating; it is a very stressful time for all affected who have to deal with the culling of the birds and the cleaning of the farm afterwards.”

Constant threat

And a joint statement by the four Chief Veterinary Officers in the UK said: “Avian flu is a constant threat to all poultry, and with winter approaching there will be an increasing risk of disease making its way into the UK from migrating birds.”