Suffolk Bird flu outbreak leads to 27,000 chicken cull

11 December 2019, 06:01

Around 27,000 chickens will be culled
Around 27,000 chickens will be culled. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A chicken farm in Suffolk has been struck by bird flu with authorities imposing an exclusion zone and warning tens of thousands of chickens will have to be culled.

A one-kilometre exclusion zone is in place around a chicken farm in Athelington after the Government confirmed a strain of "low pathogenic avian flu" had been detected.

All 27,000 birds at the commercial farm will be humanely destroyed after a number were found to have the H5 strain of avian flu.

The restricted zone is in place as authorities attempt to stop the disease spreading,

Public Health England has said the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said food safety is not at risk.

The British Poultry Council said there was no link to the Christmas turkey market, which was "unaffected" by the case.

Suffolk poultry farmer Alaistaire Brice, who farms near to the exclusion zone, said the outbreak was a concern for bird farmers but not the wider public.

He said: "It is a difficult one to take, especially at this time of year. We know it is always in the background but last year was quite an easy year for us with regards to the risks of managing birds."

The exclusion zone
The exclusion zone. Picture: DEFRA

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: "Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.

"We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this strain to control and eliminate it."

Dr Gavin Dabrera, a public health consultant at Public Health England, added: "Avian flu (often called bird flu) is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public's health is very low.

"As a precaution, we are offering public health advice and antivirals to those who had contact with the affected birds, as is standard practice."

A detailed investigation is underway to determine the most likely source of the outbreak.