A total of 19 people in the Netherlands have been diagnosed as having been infected with minor forms of avian influenza since the outbreak began in the country two weeks ago.

Eighteen agricultural workers who were involved in slaughtering poultry from infected farms, plus one relative of a worker, have caught eye infections from the virus, health ministry spokeswoman Ellen Timmer told Reuters.

The strain of the virus is thought to be relatively harmless, and is unlike the strain that killed a man in Hong Kong last month.

Avian influenza can be dangerous to humans who are already infected with human influenza. The Dutch health ministry has made human influenza vaccines available to all people who may have come into contact with avian influenza.