Up to 170,000 birds at a large poultry farm in northern England are to be culled following a suspected case of bird flu, the British government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced Friday.
Defra has also established a 10 km temporary control zone around the farm near Preston in the county of Lancashire. The order bans the movement of all animals from the farm and other poultry farms in the zone. The farm at the centre of the suspected outbreak has not been named.
Government Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens issued a statement saying the risk from the suspected outbreak to the public was very low, while the country’s Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers.
The ban will hit exhibitors at a large countryside show taking place Saturday in the locality. It means exhibitors travelling from many parts of England and Wales will be unable to exhibit their birds.
In a statement issued Friday, Defra said: “We are investigating a case of suspect avian flu (bird flu) near Preston Lancashire and movement restrictions have been put in place. A temporary control zone has been imposed at a poultry farm in Lancashire.”
“All birds at the premises will be humanely culled as a precautionary measure to limit the risk of disease spread,” Defra added.
The agency said the decision to take precautionary action has been taken based on the clinical symptoms displayed by birds at the farm and emerging laboratory findings.
“The investigation into the suspect case and laboratory tests are ongoing. We have a strong track record of controlling and eliminating previous outbreaks of avian flu in the UK. Outbreaks in Yorkshire last year and Hampshire in February were both successfully contained, allowing restrictions to be lifted at the earliest opportunity,” added Defra.
Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens added: “We have taken swift precautionary action to limit the risk of disease spreading. These measures to control the movement of poultry and humanely cull birds at the farm are part of our tried and tested approach to deal with such incidents.”
“Poultry keepers should remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain the highest levels of biosecurity at all times,” Gibbens added. Enditem