Highly pathogenic bird flu has been detected in Lancashire – Lancs Live

Housing measures put in place to stop the spread of bird flu after a string of outbreaks have been lifted, but enhanced biosecurity requirements will remain in place.

Restrictions on letting birds out were initially put in place in December to stop the spread of avian influenza following a number of cases across the country.

The most recent outbreak in a string of 20 incidents, has been reported in West Lancashire.

According to the Department for Enviroment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the H5N8 (highly pathogenic) strain was confirmed in captive birds near Skelmersdale on Wednesday (March 31).

Defra, the Scottish Government and Welsh Government have been working closely with industry and bird keepers to ensure that there are strict biosecurity measures in and around poultry premises to help keep flocks safe.

Measures put in place have been successful in helping to contain the disease. While the risk of bird flu in poultry with good biosecurity has reduced to ‘low’ it remains at ‘medium’ where there is poor biosecurity and the risk of outbreaks is likely to persist for several weeks.

As a result, the enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November will remain in place and additional mandatory biosecurity measures have been introduced.

Good biosecurity is the most effective measure of disease control available. The most recent confirmed cases of avian influenza emphasise that high standards of biosecurity remain essential as infection may still be present in the environment

While it is essential to ensure effective biosecurity when there is an increased risk of bird flu, it is advised that poultry keepers apply enhanced biosecurity measures at all times to prevent and mitigate future outbreaks.

Bird keepers are reminded to prepare the ranges and outdoor areas for release of the birds or when moving to a new outdoor area. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.

In addition, now that birds are allowed outside, all poultry and captive bird keepers will need to keep taking extra precautions, such as cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and workers changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures.

Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the H5N8 virus strain is low and from the H5N2, H5N5 and H5N1 virus strains is very low.

Food standards bodies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.

In a joint statement, Britain’s three chief veterinary officers said: “This will be welcome news for poultry keepers across the country who have put great effort into keeping their flocks safe this winter.

“We have taken swift action to contain and eliminate this disease and all bird keepers – whether they have just a few birds or thousands – must continue do their bit to maintain strict biosecurity measures on their premises so that we do not lose the progress that we have made over the past few months as low risk does not mean no risk.”

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

– Fencing off ponds, streams, boggy areas or standing water and draining them where possible

– Netting or covering ponds

– Removing any wild bird feed sources

– Deterring wild birds by regularly walking through the area or by using predator decoys

– Cleansing and disinfecting concrete or other permeable areas

– Putting down wood shavings in wet areas

– Limit the number of people who come onto the site

– Use disinfectant foot dips when entering and exiting enclosures or houses

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