Herefordshire Council is supporting an outbreak of avian flu at a poultry farm in the Shobdon area near Leominster, following confirmation of the presence of the virus by the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) last night (Thursday).
The council is working with the APHA, DEFRA and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) West Midlands to respond to the incident.
Immediate steps were taken by the APHA to limit the risk of the disease spreading. The council is working with the APHA and DEFRA to further limit the spread, with officers visiting properties in the surrounding area to inform and engage with residents who keep birds, to assess and report any risks that might exist.
Dr Rebecca Howell-Jones, Acting Director of Public Health at Herefordshire Council, said:
“Members of the public should not be alarmed; the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK Food Standards Agency advises that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, remain safe to eat.
“Council officers are working with DEFRA and the APHA to prevent the spread of Avian Flu. The most important thing is that keepers of poultry and captive birds in the county continue to follow the guidance to keep birds inside and to be vigilant for any signs of disease. Please maintain good biosecurity on your premises and if you have any concerns, seek prompt advice from your vet.”
Kate James, Lead Health Protection Practitioner at UK Health Security Agency West Midlands, said:
“UKHSA has been notified of an outbreak of avian flu influenza at a poultry farm in Herefordshire. Avian flu (often called bird flu) is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is low. As a precaution, we are offering public health advice to those workers who had contact with the affected birds, as is standard practice.
“It is important to add that Avian Influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is not carried in poultry.”
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) is in place countrywide and it is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures.
The national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone means that it is a legal requirement that bird keepers across the country must:
- House or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds
- Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
- Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
- Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
- Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
- Minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds
Bird keepers should visit the gov.uk website for full details of the AIPZ and updated biosecurity guidance.
Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find. If you find dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the DEFRA helpline on: 03459 33 55 77
Keepers should report any suspicion of disease to Animal and Plant Health Agency on: 03000 200 301.