Monday, March 8, 2021

Turkey cull to kill bird flu at British Christmas fattening farm

Avian influenza can spread to captive birds when wild birds migrate from mainland Europe during winter.

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All 10,500 turkeys will be culled at a farm in North Yorkshire after bird flu was confirmed at the site on Saturday, reports the BBC.

The H5N8 strain of avian influenza was found at the farm where the turkeys are being fattened for family Christmas dinner tables.

The birds will be humanely culled to stop the disease spreading, the Department for Rural Affairs (Defra) said, as it investigates the source. The disease can spread to poultry and other captive birds when wild birds migrate from mainland Europe during winter.

Risk to public health from the virus is very low, Public Health England (PHE) added.

A temporary control zone is currently in place: a 3km protection zone immediately around the location of the outbreak and a 10km surveillance zone around that.

Defra’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said, “We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this farm to control and eliminate it. Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease on their premises.”

Health advice is being offered to people working on the farm.

H5N8 is the same strain that was also found earlier this month at a non-poultry farm in Gloucestershire, as well as farms in Cheshire and Kent.

Middlemiss said a nationwide avian influenza prevention zone is in place to ensure the disease can be eradicated “as quickly as possible”.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, consultant in acute respiratory infections at PHE, said the World Health Organization has never confirmed any cases of H5N8 in humans to date.

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