25 May 2017 | Online since 2003

3 January 2017

H5N8 found in backyard flock in Wales


Highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Wales.

Welsh authorities have confirmed that the strain involved in the outbreak, in Carmarthenshire, is the same H5N8 strain of bird flu found on a turkey unit in Lincolnshire shortly before Christmas and the same one that has been circulating in continental Europe. H5N8 was also found in a wild duck in Carmarthenshire in December.

The Ranger understands that five chickens and 19 ducks have been culled at the outbreak site in Wales. A three-kilometre protection zone and 10-kilometre surveillance zone are in force around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs in the Welsh Government, Lesley Griffiths said, “This case of avian influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock near Pontyberem in Carmarthenshire follows the findings of infection in wild birds and a confirmed case in Lincolnshire." She said, "It serves to reinforce the need for all bird keepers, particularly back yard flock keepers, to adhere to the requirements set out in the prevention zone, remain vigilant for signs of disease and practice good biosecurity at all times."

The chief veterinary officer, Christianne Glossop, said, “This case serves to remind us all of the risk of infection. The prevention zone and temporary suspension on gathering of poultry remain in place.

“It is extremely important that bird keepers practice the very highest levels of bio-security. Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds. The movement of poultry should be minimised, and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected," she said.

Shortly before the Lincolnshire outbreak - on a farm near Louth - a housing order had been put in place across the United Kingdom as a precautionary measure. The H5N8 virus has also been found in wild birds in Somerset, Leicestershire and Scotland, as well as in Wales. It is understood that poultry industry leaders are now pressing for the country-wide housing order to be extended.

NFU Cymru President, Stephen James said: “Poultry producers in Wales will understandably be concerned with this confirmed case of Avian Influenza in Carmarthenshire. NFU Cymru remains in close dialogue with Welsh Government on this issue and are keeping our members informed with the latest information.

“The prevention zone across all of Wales, which requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate, and protect them from wild birds, still remains in place, as does the temporary suspension on gatherings of poultry.

“NFU Cymru is reminding everyone who keeps poultry, no matter the size of the flock, to continue to practice good biosecurity, remain vigilant and report any suspected cases to their local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office.

“It is worth reminding people that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has also made it clear that Avian Influenza does not pose a food safety risk for people.”

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

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

If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. If you suspect that your birds are showing signs of the disease you should immediately report it to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office.

Poultry keepers are encouraged to provide details of their flocks to the Poultry Register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately in the event of an avian disease outbreak so that they can take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.


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