Trading Standards battling largest ever UK outbreak of avian influenza

UK experiences largest outbreak in history
calendar icon 20 October 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

Experts at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) have expressed serious concern about the nation’s largest outbreak of avian influenza ever observed, according to a press release from the institute.

The warning comes after a vast portion of Essex was placed within a bird flu prevention zone from September 27, following several additional outbreaks throughout the county since the start of 2022. Amongst those, Colchester, Maldon, Chelmsford, Rochford, Tendring, Braintree, Basildon and Castle Point were all included in the zone, along with counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. CTSI was informed that the new zone introduces enhanced biosecurity measures which have to be adhered to by keepers of poultry.

The public is advised to avoid:

  • touching infected birds
  • touching droppings or bedding
  • killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking

“Although we are only at what would typically be considered the start of the season for avian influenza, we are already seeing multiple cases across the UK," said CTSI lead officer for animal health and welfare Stephanie Young. "There is a lot of concern of cases within backyard flocks and it is important that all owners of poultry remain vigilant for signs of the disease and follow good bio-security measures. Staffordshire, just confirmed another positive case and we are in the process of setting up foot patrols. It is very resource intensive."

Trading Standards is diligently collaborating with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to help contain these national outbreaks. Although Trading Standards teams conform to a national procedure, each local authority has developed a method that helps improve upon the base response for their particular region.

“It is important that any concerns over deaths, or if birds display signs of ill-health typical of that for avian influenza, it must be reported immediately. APHA officials and Trading Standards officers from across the country are working hard to monitor and control further spread of the virus in what is an unprecedented outbreak,” Young added.

Trading Standards continues to prove its vital role, among others due to its invaluable local connections with farmers, hauliers and market staff that have been gained through years of regular contact on the ground. In North Yorkshire, work with the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), a multi- agency forum including key emergency responders, proved helpful for joining up their response.

Elsewhere, at Lincolnshire Trading Standards a partnership with emergency services previously proved fruitful, when a fire station was set up as a forward operating base in partnership with the Fire Service. Close collaboration with the Police continues to spread the word across the region by broadcasting messages on how to stop the spread in households.

"Avian Influenza is a seasonal risk but it is concerning to see such an unprecedented rise in cases," said CTSI chief executive John Herriman. "The adaptability, diligence and reach of our Trading Standards services places the profession in an ideal position to respond quickly; always on the frontline of protecting our communities It is also thanks to Trading Standards’ multi-agency collaboration, we are assured of the containment of this avian fmilu’s outbreak."

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