Farming News - Bird flu outbreak at Suffolk farm - all 27,000 culled

Bird flu outbreak at Suffolk farm - all 27,000 culled

11 Dec 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

Defra has confirmed a case of H5 low pathogenicity avian influenza (H5 LPAI) on a chicken farm in mid-Suffolk. A one-kilometre restriction zone has been put in place around the affected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

All birds on the premises will be humanely culled and an official investigation is underway to determine the most likely source of this outbreak.

The disease was picked up by a private veterinary surgeon who was investigating a drop in egg production in the flock, demonstrating the vital importance of disease surveillance and prompt reporting.

Public Health England has advised that the risk to public health from this H5 LPAI strain is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has emphasised 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.

Poultry keepers are advised to maintain strict biosecurity, remain vigilant about the health of their birds, and talk to their vet in case of any concerns.

Responding to the disease outbreak, BVA and the British Veterinary Poultry Association commented:

“We’d like to emphasise that this strain of avian influenza virus poses very low risk to public health and disease control actions taken to date reduce risks to poultry health.

“The quick identification of the suspected case by a private veterinary surgeon and swift precautionary measures to contain the disease also illustrate the ongoing importance of a robust veterinary surveillance system. BVA and BVPA urge all vets and poultry keepers, including keepers of backyard flocks and seasonal poultry producers, to remain vigilant to any unusual signs of disease and continue to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and biosecurity. Any suspicions of avian influenza should be reported to Defra as soon as possible.” 

Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said:
 
“Low Pathogenic Avian flu has been confirmed on a commercial chicken farm in Suffolk. Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and 27,000 poultry at the farm will be culled.
 
“Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
 
“Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.
 
“We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this strain to control and eliminate it.”
 
Dr Gavin Dabrera, Public Health Consultant, Public Health England, said:
 
“Avian flu (often called bird flu) is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. As a precaution, we are offering public health advice and antivirals to those who had contact with the affected birds, as is standard practice.”
  
A detailed investigation is in progress to determine the most likely source of this outbreak.

For further advice on avian influenza, contact the Defra Helpline on 03459 33 55 77, or look online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

Vets should report any suspicions by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 (in England), and in Wales contact 0300 303 8268. Vets in Scotland should contact their local Field Services Office.

Latest updates on the situation are available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#latest-situation