Following on from the news of Avian Influenza confirmed at the Abbotsbury Swannery on Friday, Defra has confirmed that the total of dead waterfowl in Dorset, as a result of High Path AI H5N6, has increased to 17, with more expected over the coming days. This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months. Defra believe that the disease has been introduced into the UK by migratory birds. This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
There are currently no plans to carry out any culls or restrict movements though the risk level is clearly increased in the area. The official risk level of incursion into wild birds in the UK is maintained at a ‘medium.’
In response, Defra have established an AI Prevention Zone (AIPZ) which imposes additional biosecurity measures on poultry keepers in the area. A formal Declaration has been issued detailing the area covered by the AIPZ (see map) and the additional biosecurity requirements that apply. Click here to view the Declaration. We are contacting/have contacted clients who are in this AIPZ.
Trade should not be affected following the findings in wild birds, according to the rules of the World Animal Health Organisation. With disease in the country, the key message is to maintain enhanced biosecurity, be vigilant for signs of disease and be prompt in reporting of suspicion of disease.
We will keep you informed of any developments or you can visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu with the latest on the Avian Influenza situation. If you have any questions regarding this update, please contact your vet or the practice on 01392 872932.