Avian influenza identified at Cheshire broiler breeder unit

Avian influenza of the H5N8 strain has been confirmed at a premises near Frodsham in Cheshire on 2 November.

Further testing is underway to determine if it is a highly pathogenic strain and whether it is related to the virus currently circulating in Europe.

All 13,000 birds at the farm, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. 3km and 10km temporary control zones have been put in place around the infected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

This case is unrelated to the H5N2 strain which was confirmed in at a small commercial premises near Deal in Kent on 2 November.

All 480 birds at the Kent site will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. A 1km Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) Restricted Zone has also been put in place around the infected farm to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “A detailed investigation is in progress to determine the most likely source of this outbreak.”

Wild birds migrating from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds. There are some simple measures that all poultry keepers, whether they are running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in their back garden, or rearing game birds, should take to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu.

These include:

  • Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly cleansing and disinfecting any hard surfaces
  • Cleaning footwear before and after visits
  • Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly
  • Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl
  • Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.

Defra said it was urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this farm to control and eliminate it.

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