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Vets respond to confirmation of avian influenza

Avian influenza of the H5N8 strain has been confirmed in turkeys at a farm near Louth in Lincolnshire on Friday.

Most birds at the premises have died and any remaining birds there will be humanely culled.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has put in place a 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone around the infected farm to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The advice from Public Health England (PHE) is that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has stated that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The Prevention Zones (housing orders) previously announced on Tuesday 6 December remain in place in England, Scotland and Wales, including within the Protection and Surveillance Zones.

Poultry and captive bird keepers should continue to house their birds, where practicable, maintain their biosecurity and remain vigilant about the health of their birds.

BVA and the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) responded: “We’d like to emphasise that the risk to public health from this strain is very low and that the Food Standards Agency has made clear that there is no food safety risk to consumers, with thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products still safe to eat.

“The quick identification of the suspected case and swift precautionary measures to contain the disease illustrate the ongoing importance of a robust veterinary surveillance system.

“BVA and BVPA urge all vets and poultry keepers to remain vigilant to signs of the disease and heed the biosecurity advice issued by Defra. Any suspicion of avian influenza should be reported to the APHA as soon as possible.”

For further advice on Avian Influenza contact the Defra Helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

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