December 29, 2016
Avian flu outbreaks hit UK
The two confirmed findings in dead wild wigeons from Somerset and Leicestershire counties, both in England, follow confirmation of H5N8 in a dead wild peregrine falcon in Scotland on Dec.23, and the finding of the same strain in a dead wild wigeon in Wales a day before.
H5N8 is the same strain which has been circulating in mainland Europe and which was found at a poultry farm in Lincolnshire county, England, around the middle of this month, although there was no suggestion the disease had spread from that farm.
"Today's (Dec.23) confirmed findings mean that avian flu has now been found in wild birds in widely separated parts of England, Wales and Scotland", said Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens.
'Far from unexpected'
"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", he added.
He stressed that the risk to kept birds could not be eliminated by housing alone. "This virus can be carried into buildings on people and things to infect birds", he warned, adding that good biosecurity measures were essential.
Strictly enforcing high levels of biosecurity measures poultry farms in the EU was also stressed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which said this is the most effective way to prevent the introduction of H5N8 into poultry farms.
"We also need people to continue to report findings of dead wild birds so that we can investigate", Gibbens said.