Poultry producers have been warned not to relax measures to combat avian flu even though it has moved off the front pages of Britain’s newspapers.

Nigel Horrox, president of the British Veterinary Poultry Association, told delegates at this week’s Pig & Poultry Fair that there was a real risk that, as consumer anxiety lessened and media coverage waned, producers could become complacent about the risks.

“Please, please, please, don’t let biosecurity slip,” he said, adding that 1g of infected bird faeces was sufficient to potentially infect millions of commercially kept birds.

“Everything that goes into a poultry building should be clean.

Think about it.

Stop and look.”

The fact that the less virulent form of H7N3 strain had been found on three units in East Anglia recently gave cause for
concern, added Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council.

“It would be a different matter if – God forbid – H5N1 was spreading through flocks.”

Despite calls for reassurances from producers at the show, Debby Reynolds, the government’s chief veterinary officer, suggested the department was unlikely to issue more guidelines to producers ahead of the high risk autumn migration period.