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Bird Flu prevention zone set up in Dorset

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(Updated 9:52am 15th January 2018)


5:46pm 12th January 2018

More cases of bird flu are expected to be confirmed in Dorset over the coming days.

17 birds have been found to have the disease at Abbotsbury Swannery.

It's the first time Avian Flu has been identified in the UK this winter.

DEFRA have set up a prevention zone around Weymouth and Portland - with instructions issued to people who keep wild birds and poultry.

Seventeen cases of avian flu have been confirmed in wild birds on the Fleet near Weymouth in Dorset. 

A spokesperson for Ilchester Estates said: “The wild birds which were found dead have tested positive for the H5N6 strain of avian flu. We have been assured by the relevant authorities that this strain of avian flu represents a very low threat to humans, and our staff are continuing their winter duties and monitoring the wildlife on the Fleet."

“We are working with Public Health England and APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) to deal with this situation."

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months. This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds."

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

While there is no legislative requirement to put restrictions in place when this strain of virus is found in wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed local measures will be introduced to help manage the potential threat.

Current Situation

DEFRA has now introduced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone which applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in specific, targeted areas of South Dorset. All keepers in this Prevention Zone must follow our detailed legal requirements on strict biosecurity, whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock.

Click Here to check if you are within the new Prevention Zone (pink coloured) in the Weymouth and Portland areas.

There are no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions in place.

The risk to domestic poultry nationally remains low, however good biosecurity is essential and bird keepers across the country are reminded to follow our biosecurity advice which includes specific advice for keepers of backyard flocks.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

Trade should not be affected following the findings in wild birds, according to the rules of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE).

 



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