Lancashire Council today confirmed that a bird flu outbreak in Salwick poses a ‘very low’ risk to public health.Advertisement
They said they are reassuring Lancashire residents that the risk to public health from avian influenza remains low following further action to contain the spread of the virus.
However, If the public finds any sick or dead birds, they should not pick them up or handle them.
Read more: Precautionary measures after bird flu outbreak in Salwick
An outbreak can occur at any point in the year, but the UK typically faces a seasonal increase in the risk of avian influenza due to the winter migration patterns of wild birds to the UK.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: “There is no need to be alarmed by the developments over the last few days.
“The risk to public health from the virus is very low, but people mustn’t pick up sick or dead birds as this can spread the virus.”
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Karunanithi urged bird keepers to remain vigilant for any signs of avian influenza, as it is a notifiable animal disease.
Migratory birds may be infected and pass bird flu on to local wild bird populations, poultry or other captive birds.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) confirmed that a strain was found in wild bird populations in Lancashire last week.
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Since then, cases have been confirmed at commercial poultry premises near Salwick and in a small mixed poultry flock near Kirkham.
The regional UKHSA Health Protection Teams are working closely with Defra to monitor the situation and provide health advice to people at the infected premises as a precaution.
APHA will collect some of the birds and test them for avian influenza to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of birds. But they will not collect all of the birds.
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Avian influenza has been confirmed in birds at two premises in Lancashire, one near Salwick and one near Kirkham. A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone is in place around these premises.
Keepers can check the location of disease control zones and if they are in the zone on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) interactive map.
The control requires anyone who keeps poultry or other captive birds within the 3km Protection Zone to isolate and house their birds and record the name and address of any visitors.
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Poultry owners within the 10km surveillance zone do not have to house their birds but must keep detailed visitor records.
Road signs at both locations will make people aware as they arrive and leave the zones. APHA will contact residents in the affected zones with further information.
Mark McGivern, Consultant in Health Protection in the North West at UKHSA, said: “Avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds, and the risk to public health is very low.
“We are working closely with Defra to monitor the situation, and the regional health protection team will be providing the necessary public health advice to people at the infected premises as a precaution.
“We know the importance of washing hands thoroughly when it comes to reducing the risk of infections. Don’t touch any sick or dead birds, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after contact with any animal.”
Read more: Bird flu outbreak at premises near Salwick
All bird keepers must maintain high standards of biosecurity as good practice for the health of birds. Good biosecurity is an essential defence against diseases and is key to limiting the spread during an outbreak.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) is currently in place across Great Britain to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds. It is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.
Keepers with more than 500 birds must restrict access to non-essential people on their sites. Workers must change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures. Site vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
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Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry, including chickens, ducks and geese, must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.
While the risk to the general public’s health is very low, anyone who is concerned should call NHS 111 or speak to their GP.
Dead wild birds should be reported immediately to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
For more information on disease control zones, visit – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu-cases-and-disease-control-zones-in-england
For more on bird flu, visit – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
For advice for bird owners, visit – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#biosecurity
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