Bird flu confirmed at Northumberland poultry farm

Defra has confirmed a further case of H5N8 avian flu in a small flock of chickens at a farm near Haltwhistle in Northumberland.

UK chief veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone had been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The flock contained about 35 birds. A number had died from the disease and the remaining live birds are being humanely culled. A full investigation is under way to determine the source of the infection.

See also: Egg producer hits back at Defra’s bird flu control plan

The case is the first to be confirmed in commercial poultry since 23,000 birds were culled at Banham Poultry’s farm at Redgrave, near Diss on the Suffolk/Norfolk border 10 days ago.

It comes just a day after the chief vet said that biosecurity had been an issue in all nine previous domestic cases in the UK over the past few months.

Risk level

Speaking at the NFU conference, Mr Gibbens said that no part of England was low risk and that it was imperative that poultry keepers realised that the area differentiation is between high and higher.

“For those who are outside the higher risk areas the onus has been placed on poultry keepers to assess their own risk level and make a responsible decision as to whether or not to allow their poultry access to the range after 28 February.”

Charles Bourns, newly elected Chairman of Copa and Cogeca’s Poultry and Eggs working party and NFU poultry board member, said the Northumberland outbreak underlined the gravity of the chief vet’s comments.

“There is clearly no such thing as a low risk area at the moment. We have been remarkably lucky in the number of cases we have had compared with other countries in Europe, such as Hungary, Germany and France,” he added.

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