Avian influenza of the H5N2 strain has been confirmed in at a small commercial premises near Deal in Kent today, according to an official statement released by the Department of Rural Affairs.
All 480 birds on site will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease, and a 1km Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) Restricted Zone has also been put in place around the infected farm to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
“Avian flu has been confirmed at a small commercial premises in Kent. Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and all remaining poultry and captive birds at the farm will be culled,” chief veterinary officer for Defra Christine Middlemiss commented, adding that public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low
A Food Standards Agency spokesperson confirmed that, on the basis of the current scientific evidence, this strain of avian influenza does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
The Defra statement said a detailed investigation is in progress to determine the most likely source of this outbreak, saying a probable cause was birds migrating from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.
It also advised some measures that all poultry keepers should take to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu, including:
- Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly cleansing and disinfecting any hard surfaces
- Cleaning footwear before and after visits
- Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly
- Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl
- Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.
The UK has remained free of highly pathogenic avian influenza since September 2017.