Vets are urged to remain vigilant for signs of avian influenza after the H5N8 strain was confirmed in turkeys on a Lincolnshire farm.

All remaining turkeys on the farm will be culled.
All remaining turkeys on the farm will be culled.

Defra confirmed the strain had been detected on a poultry farm near Louth on 16 December. Most of the birds on the premises have died, but any remaining will be humanely culled.

Defra has put a 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone in place around the infected farm to limit the risk of disease spreading.

Be vigilant

In a statement, the BVA and the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) praised the quick identification of the suspected case and swift precautionary measures implemented to contain the disease, which, they said, illustrate the ongoing importance of a robust veterinary surveillance system.

“The BVA and the BVPA urge all vets and poultry keepers to remain vigilant to signs of the disease and heed the biosecurity advice issued by Defra,” the statement said.

“Any suspicion of avian influenza should be reported to the APHA as soon as possible.”

Very low human risk

They reiterated the risk posed to human health was very low and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had made it clear no food safety risk exists to consumers with thoroughly cooked poultry products still safe to eat.

Defra said the outbreak, affecting 5,000 birds, is not expected to have an impact on the supplies of turkeys for Christmas.

Immediate steps

CVO Nigel Gibbens said: “Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and all remaining poultry at the farm will be culled.

“Public Health England has confirmed the risk to public health is very low and the FSA said bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises. We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this farm to control and eliminate it.”

  • For more advice on avian influenza, telephone the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.


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