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BPC seeks to reassure poultry farmers after outbreak of bird flu

The British Poultry Council and animal health authorities in the UK move to reassure poultry farmers after two separate outbreaks of bird flu were reported this week.

4 November 2020, at 8:15am

Following the confirmation of low pathogenic Avian Influenza of the H5N2 strain at a small commercial premises near Deal, Kent, a further unrelated case has been confirmed at a site near Frodsham in Cheshire. APHA has recently confirmed that the cases in Frodsham are highly-pathogenic H5N8 bird flu.

All birds on both sites will be humanely culled to limit the spread of disease. Control zones have also been put in place around the infected sites to limit the risk of spread; a 1km Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) Restricted Zone has been enforced at the Deal site and a temporary 3km and a 10km control zone has been put in place around the Frodsham premises to limit the spread of the H5N8 strain.

Public Health England (PHE) has declared that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency have stated that bird flu poses a minimal food safety risk for UK consumers; thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products are safe to eat.

Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, Richard Griffiths, said:

“Two unrelated cases of Avian Influenza have been confirmed at different sites in the UK. Immediate action has been taken to limit the risk of spread, including plans to cull the remaining poultry and captive birds at the farm. Bird keepers must remain vigilant and report any signs of the disease, whilst ensuring that good biosecurity is practiced onsite.

We are working with Defra and are remaining vigilant on poultry sites to minimise the risk to the national flock. We will closely follow this and provide an update over the coming days.”

The UK Poultry Health and Welfare Group, chaired by BPC’s Technical Director, Maire Burnett, held a live webinar to promote awareness of Avian Influenza and the risk it poses to the domestic wild bird population.

Informative presentations made by key speakers – including the UK Chief Veterinary Officer, the Poultry Club of GB, Defra, the British Poultry Council Veterinary Advisor and a key exporter of high value breeding stock – meant that the 500 registered viewers were assured of what to look out for, who to contact and how to implement the necessary biosecurity measures to ensure the protection of the health of the national poultry flock, the environment and the wider rural economy.

Whilst speaking at the event, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss declared that “our main priority is to protect your animals,” which is why “swift reporting is necessary.” “Bird flu is constantly out there in the world…just because it is far away, doesn’t mean it isn’t there!”

Similarly, after presenting a discussion on what bird owners should look out for and biosecurity tips, BPC Veterinary Advisor, Daniel Parker, said that “it is better to report it and get advice than harbour and spread it” and cause disruption.