THE NETHERLANDS has once again extended its housing order for free-range poultry.

It has now been in place since late October last year, with the minister for agriculture saying that the risk of avian influenza (AI) infections on poultry farms remains too high to let birds out.

See also: France to consider avian influenza vaccines

The situation will be reviewed weekly, and government officials are set to meet with stakeholders to explore ways that the housing order might be brought to an end.

There have been two outbreaks on commercial poultry farms in recent weeks, and the virus is still being discovered in wild birds, particularly in the north of the country, where the risk of incursion into poultry farms is considered high.

It was also isolated in a fox, prompting a warning that dog owners should keep their pets on a lead to reduce the risk of infection in areas where the virus is prevalent.

Wild birds

The latest risk assessment says that, while most migratory birds have now left the Netherlands, dead barnacle geese are being discovered with the virus present.

There is a fear that young birds with no resistance to avian influenza could become infected, further extending the AI season.

Last week the French government announced it was preparing a ‘roadmap’ to becoming more prepared for avian influenza outbreaks after one of the worst winter seasons on record for the disease. 

Elsewhere in Europe, infections remain relatively low, although Poland recorded close to 20 new cases on farms in the second half of May.