November 3, 2020


UK vets advise continued vigilance after bird flu cases confirmed in England


The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) are urging vets and poultry keepers to remain vigilant and practise strict biosecurity measures after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed on November 2 two cases of avian influenza in England, the United Kingdom.


One case of H5N2 low pathogenicity avian influenza was discovered at a small commercial premises near Deal, Kent.


A second case, of H5N8 avian influenza, was reported at a larger hatching egg premises in Frodsham, Cheshire.


The two outbreaks do not appear to be linked.


According to the BVA, all birds on the premises will be humanely culled while an official investigation is underway to determine the most likely sources of these outbreaks.


Movement restrictions are also in place on the affected premises. A one-kilometre restriction zone (Kent) and three- and 10-kilometre restrictions zones (Cheshire) have been established around the affected sites to limit the risk of the disease spreading.


Poultry keepers are advised to maintain strict biosecurity, remain vigilant about the health of their birds and talk to their vet promptly in case of any concerns.


Public Health England has advised that the risk to public health from either the H5N2 or the H5N8 strain is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has emphasised that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.


Responding to the disease outbreaks, BVA and BVPA said: "While the detection of two outbreaks of avian influenza might cause some concern, we'd like to emphasise that these strains of virus pose very low risk to public health and the swift disease control actions that have been taken so far reduce risks to poultry health.


"The quick identification of the cases and precautionary measures to contain the disease demonstrate the importance of robust veterinary disease surveillance and prompt reporting.


"BVA and BVPA urge all vets and poultry keepers, including keepers of backyard flocks and seasonal poultry producers, to remain vigilant to any unusual signs of disease and continue to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and biosecurity. Any suspicions of avian influenza should be reported to Defra as soon as possible."


- British Veterinary Association