After the death of 50 hens at an egg farm in the district of Emsland in the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) in northwest Germany, and confirmation of the avian flu virus, all 10,000 remaining birds on the farm have been destroyed. Cleaning and disinfection of the premises is now underway.

In the official notification to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the federal Chief Veterinary Officer reports that the virus involved is the H7N7 variant and it is highly pathogenic.

Following European and federal procedures, the affected farm was immediately placed under veterinary restrictions, and controls in the surrounding area have been put in place, including the pre-emptive culling and disposal of 60 birds from two nearby hobby flocks. No live birds or poultry meat from the affected area are thought to have left the region, and eggs have not been moved outside the state.

A protection zone has been established within 3 kilometers of the farm, surrounded by a 10-kilometer surveillance zone, into or out of which no poultry or poultry products can be moved, according to the ministry of agriculture in Lower Saxony.

The avian influenza virus was last detected in Germany in March 2015. The most recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian flu in Lower Saxony were in December 2014, when the cause was the H5N8 subtype of the virus, affecting farm in the regions of Cloppenburg and Emsland. In March and June this year, a low-pathogenic form of the H7N7 caused outbreaks of the disease in the regions of Cuxhaven and Emsland in Lower Saxony, according to the ministry .

Germany’s poultry farmers have been warned to step up biosecurity measures.