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Avian influenza (bird flu) confirmed in wild birds in England & Scotland

: News & Articles : Defra News : Avian influenza (bird flu) confirmed in wild birds in England & Scotland
Posted on: 2016-12-23

H5N8 strain of the disease found in two dead wild wigeons in England

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed two wild birds in England have tested positive for H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza.

The two confirmed findings in dead wild wigeons from Somerset and Leicestershire follow confirmation of H5N8 in a dead wild peregrine falcon in Scotland today, and the finding of the same strain in a dead wild wigeon in Wales yesterday.

This is the same strain which has been circulating in mainland Europe and which was found at a poultry farm in Lincolnshire last week, although there is no suggestion the disease has spread from that farm.

The advice from Public Health England (PHE) remains that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made it clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said:

  • Today’s confirmed findings mean that avian flu has now been found in wild birds in widely separated parts of England, Wales and Scotland.
  • This is far from unexpected and reflects our risk assessments and the measures we have taken including introducing a housing order for poultry and a ban on gatherings. We’ll continue to work with ornithological groups to further strengthen surveillance and our understanding of the extent of infection in wild birds.
  • The risk to kept birds cannot be eliminated by housing alone. This virus can be carried into buildings on people and things to infect birds. Good biosecurity measures are essential. We also need people to continue to report findings of dead wild birds so that we can investigate.
  • It is important to reiterate Public Health England’s advice that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

The Government continues to closely monitor the situation in Europe and has implemented a series of other measures to limit the threat of spread to poultry. These include the declaration of a Prevention Zone on 6 December, requiring all kept birds to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, and a temporary ban on poultry gatherings announced earlier this week.

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Any further findings of Avian Flu in wild birds will be published online.

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