Bird flu cases discovered in United Kingdom; flock keepers asked to remain alert

Experts have warned bird owners to keep their stock indoors to prevent them from catching avian flu which has been identified among wild birds in the Dorset region

Bird flu cases discovered in United Kingdom; flock keepers asked to remain alert

In 2008, Defra put in place a wild bird prevention zone because that was H5N1.

It's the first time the disease has been found in the United Kingdom this winter.

Scientists believe more cases of the potentially disease will emerge over the coming days. Tests have shown the variant is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months - different to the strains which affected people in China previous year. The national risk remains "medium" for wild birds.

United Kingdom chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: "As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise".

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The British Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for consumers.

Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease.

"They should familiarise themselves with DAERA guidance on good biosecurity and how to report suspicion of disease appropriately".

Action has been taken to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas and fencing off wet or boggy areas.

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Seventeen wild birds have been found in an area west of Weymouth with a virus closely related to the H5N6 strain.

Gibbens confirmed that a local "avian influenza prevention zone" will be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found. This means wild birds carrying the disease can infect domestic poultry, so the best way to reduce the risk of your poultry catching bird flu is to minimise chances for them to come into contact with wild birds or their droppings by practising good biosecurity.

There are no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions in place.

Last year, The World Health Organisation confirmed that 840 people had been infected by the H6N1 virus worldwide by May 2015 and 447 of the cases were fatal.

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