spraying lorry at bird flu site© Geoff Robinson/REX Shutterstock

The UK could be officially declared free from avian influenza in mid-February following the successful completion and sign off of secondary cleansing and disinfection (C&D) at Staveley’s Eggs, Goosnargh, Lancashire.

Owner David Staveley said secondary C+D had been signed off by the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 19 November.

The following day (20 November) the UK’s chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens sent details to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris.

See also: Staveley’s outbreak, epidemiological report

Dr Gibbens said in the report: “No further cases have been identified to 20 November 2015. Final cleansing and disinfection of the single premises was completed on 19 November.

“This event is now closed. Epidemiological investigations indicate that the most likely source of infection was via wild bird species.”

The OIE stipulates that a country cannot be officially AI free until 90 days after secondary C&D, which will be 18 February.

The high pathogenic H7N7 outbreak was confirmed on 13 July and led to nearly 200,000 cage and free-range birds dying or being culled. The outbreak is believed to have cost the firm more than £1m, of which half has been spent on secondary C&D.

An industry fund of over £200,000 was also assembled to pay for a second cleaning team.

US now AI-free

Meanwhile, the OIE has said the US can now declare itself free of the high pathogenic H5N2 strain, having not seen a case for more than five months.

It added that the US had completely fulfilled the necessary actions and surveillance requirements to self-declare itself free of the disease.

The outbreak first struck the US in December 2014, when it was confirmed in wild pintail ducks in Whatcom County, Washington.

It spread to affect farms in 15 states and 48 million birds, including some of the largest poultry farms in the country in Iowa and Wisconsin. The final case was discovered in June in a lay flock of one million birds in Iowa.