New bird flu outbreak as 55,000 ducks to be destroyed at farm to prevent further spread of virus

New bird flu outbreak as 55,000 ducks to be destroyed at farm to prevent further spread of virus

Officials detected avian influenza H5N8 at the farm while investigating a nearby poultry farm where chickens were found to be infected last month

BYCHRIS KITCHING
15:11, 3 MAR 2017UPDATED16:39, 3 MAR 2017

Around 55,000 ducks are to be destroyed after a bird flu outbreak was discovered at another farm in south-eastern England.

The Department of Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) announced on Friday that avian influenza H5N8 has been found on a farm near Redgrave, Suffolk.

Officials detected the highly pathogenic virus while investigating a separate poultry farm nearby where chickens were confirmed to be infected last month.

A protection zone measuring nearly two miles and a six-mile surveillance zone are already in place following the earlier case, although officials say the threat to humans is “very low”.

The farm’s name and owner were not revealed.

Public Health England has advised that the risk to humans is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk to consumers.

After tests confirmed the presence of bird flu the UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer decided that the proactive culling of around 55,000 ducks should take place due to the unacceptable high risk and to contain the possible spread of the virus.

In addition to the cull the farm will be cleansed and disinfected to reduce the risk to other birds.

Defra said: “Our investigations will continue and the restrictions already placed on the site will remain in force until cleansing and disinfection is finished and the investigation is complete.

“Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.”

n February around 23,000 chickens were destroyed at Bridge Farm, managed by Banham Poultry and used for breeding, near Redgrave after the virus was found there.

In addition to the farms in Suffolk, Defra said, the H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at a farm in Northumberland, in three linked premises on a commercial game farm in Lancashire, in three separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire, and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire.

In December the Carmarthenshire case became the first in Britain where bird flu in the wild was confirmed.

The disease was found in a dead wigeon-type duck near Llanelli Wetland Centre in South Wales, which was closed as a precaution.

The following day Defra announced that the virus was found in two wild wigeons in Somerset and Leicestershire, and a wild peregrine falcon in Scotland.

A number of prevention zones have been established around Britain, requiring poultry keepers to implement safeguards to protect their flocks from disease spread by wild birds.

The dangerous H5N8 bird flu strain has been found in poultry and wild birds in at least 14 European countries.

There have never been any recorded cases of H5N8 in humans.

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