A THIRD commercial poultry farm in the Netherlands has been hit by avian influenza.

Authorities say it is an H5 variant and is likely to be highly pathogenic.

The layer farm in Lutjegast, Groningen, will now have all 48,000 birds on the site culled to prevent the spread of the virus.

There are 21 other poultry farms within 10km, but none within 3km, according to the Dutch government.

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research says that wild birds that have tested positive for avian influenza have now been found in more than 20 locations.

Germany has reported 45 cases of HPAI H5N8 in wild birds, six reports of HPAI H5 in wild birds, and one outbreak of HPAI H5N8 in domestic poultry in a backyard flock.

There have been two other outbreaks on commercial farms, as well as one outbreak on a smaller ‘hobby farm’.