UK, NETHERLANDS, GERMANY - In the UK, the culling of birds at the outbreak farm in Yorkshire has been completed, while the control measures are causing difficulties for nearby free-range egg farmers. Ukraine has banned poultry imports from the three EU countries that have reported outbreaks.
H5N8 avian influenza virus
A summary of current knowledge on the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus has been published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
It explains the differences between low- and highly-pathogenic forms of the virus, the global spread of this particular virus from Asia to Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom this month.
Control measures are reviewed and it is stressed that the virus currently poses a minimal risk to the general public.
For the OIE's Questions and Answers on Highly Pathogenic H5N8 Avian Influenza, click here.
As part of our robust action in response to the confirmed case of avian flu, the culling of 6,000 ducks has now been completed on the affected farm in east Yorkshire, Defra reports.
Its statement continues: "The cull is to prevent the spread of potential infection, and has been carried out in a safe and humane manner by fully trained APHA staff. Our response to this outbreak follows tried and tested procedures for dealing with avian flu outbreaks.
"Additionally, our animal health laboratory at Weybridge has confirmed that the outbreak in East Yorkshire is the H5N8 strain. The advice from the Chief Medical Officer and Public Health England remains that the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency have said there is no food safety risk for consumers."
The BBC 'Farming Today' programme today included an interview with a free-range egg farmer in the restriction zone around the outbreak farm in east Yorkshire who has been unable to move eggs off his farm due to the control measures. He is also required to keep the hens confined to their houses, which is causing additional work in the removal of manure and risks an outbreak of feather-pecking, he said.
Within the restriction zone around the duck breeding farm near Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire, movements of all poultry, products and waste have been banned, according to the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA). The restrictions have impacted on egg producers in the zone, who are currently unable to ship their eggs off to packing stations.
A packing station belonging to egg cooperative, Eggsell, is outside the exclusion zone but its spokesperson, Stewart Elliott, said it has producers inside the restricted area. “We have been talking to DEFRA every day. We need a special licence from them to move eggs out of the zone. As long as we can get that we should be OK but I don’t know how long it will take. If we can shift the eggs by Friday they will be able to go as class A. Otherwise they will have to be downgraded.”
Robert Gooch, BRFEPA's director of policy, told The Ranger that the association is pressing for licences to be issued as soon as possible.
The government in Wales is advising poultry owners are being urged to be vigilant for signs of avian influenza following the outbreak in England.
Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans, said: “Although the disease has only been confirmed in England, I encourage all poultry owners in Wales to remain vigilant and to report any signs of the disease to their local Animal Health and Plant Agency (formerly AHVLA) office.”
She added that her department is working closely with other UK governments and agencies over contingency planning arrangements.
Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said: “Poultry owners need to keep a look out for any signs of the disease. These include respiratory distress, diarrhoea, fewer eggs being laid, loss of appetite and blue discolouration of neck and throat.
“As always, all poultry keepers should continue their efforts to maintain high levels of biosecurity and monitor their birds for any signs of disease. Avian influenza is a notifiable disease, and so any suspicion should be reported immediately.”
Ukraine bans poultry meat imports
On 18 November, the veterinary department of the Ukraine government announced a ban on imports of poultry and poultry products to Ukraine from Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
ThePoultrySite News Desk
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