Avian flu H5N1 strain confirmed, but for now no GB-wide poultry housing order

The chief vets of Scotland and the UK have decided that, for the moment, there is no need to house all poultry in Great Britain.

The decision is despite confirmation of the UK’s first case of the H5N1 avian flu virus.

The Scottish Executive confirmed on Thursday afternoon (6 April) that samples taken from a swan found in Fife had been found to be infected with the highly pathogenic form of the virus.

A statement from the chief vets said that Scottish and UK officials were in the process of undertaking an urgent veterinary risk assessment.

They were also consulting ornithological experts to consider the specific circumstances of the case and determine the level of any risk it may pose to poultry and other kept birds.

“However, on the basis of a preliminary risk assessment it has been concluded that a GB-wide poultry housing requirement would be disproportionate,” said the statement.

“We are urgently considering whether there is a need for any regional measures in addition to those that have already been put in place in the Protection and Surveillance Zones.”

The Scottish Executive has already placed a protection zone of 3km kilometres radius around the site where the bird was found. It has also established a surveillanze zone of 10km.

In their statement, the chief vets said further advice will be available once the full veterinary assessment is complete and the situation will be reviewed on a daily basis.

But they stressed that there was no reason for public health concerns.

Avian influenza was a disease of birds and while it could pass to humans this required extremely close contact with infected birds, they said.

uk avian flu map