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Bird flu has hit Germany, the Netherlands and now the UK...are we next?

The Agriculture Minister said poultry owners need to be vigilant.

Image: Steve Parkin via Press Association Images

A RESTRICTION ZONE has been set up around a duck breeding farm in England and culling has begun following an outbreak of bird flu.

It comes after Dutch officials earlier banned the transport of poultry in the Netherlands after discovering a highly infectious strain of bird flu which could jump to humans.

Commenting on the recent outbreaks across Europe, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney said,

My Department has a full range of contingency plans in place and, should an outbreak occur measures will be initiated immediately, to prevent the spread of the disease.

There are two types of avian influenza virus – low pathogenic (LPAI) and highly pathogenic (HPAI) -depending on the severity.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 400 people, mainly in Southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003. Another strain of bird flu, H7N9, has claimed more than 170 lives since emerging in 2013.

H5N8 is the causative agent in Germany and the Netherlands. The disease in the UK has also been confirmed as highly pathogenic.

Bird flu outbreak Source: Steve Parkin

The Minister said “this is an animal health disease, which normally results in high mortality rates in flocks and its spread is normally controlled by the killing of the affected flocks and the destruction of the carcases.

There is no known food safety risk associated with the strain of the disease (H5N8) confirmed in Germany and the Netherlands.

The likely source of the outbreak of the disease in Europe is wild migratory birds but this has not been confirmed.

Bird flu outbreak Staff in protective clothing with a police officer on a farm in Nafferton, East Yorkshire, where measures to prevent the spread of bird flu are under way. Source: Steve Parkin via Press Association

Minister Coveney emphasised the need for on-going vigilance by flockowners and said “it was important that poultry flockowners followed the bio-security advice issued by the Department”.

Avian Influenza is notifiable to the Department and it is a legal requirement to notify any unusual increase in mortalities or any suspicion of the disease to a veterinary practitioner and to the Department.

Read: Remember bird flu? It’s back and it’s in Britain>

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