Poultry owners told to take biosecurity measures after bird flu outbreak near Melton
Poultry owners in the Melton Mowbray area are being urged to be extra vigilant following a new outbreak of bird flu just a few miles west of the town.
The discovery of a case of avian influenza at a poultry farm near Barrow upon Soar, in Charnwood, has prompted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to put 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones in place surrounding the infected premises.
This takes in villages such as Wymeswold, Old Dalby, Grimston, Shoby, Ragdale, Seagrave, Frisby, Thrussington, Rotherby, Rearsby, Ratcliffe-on-the-Wreake, East Goscote, Queniborough and Gaddesby, among many others.
It is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in these affected areas to follow increased biosecurity measures to limit the risk of the disease spreading, Movement of domestic poultry and other captive birds is not allowed, and all birds kept by people living within the control zone must be housed in enclosures which do not allow birds to fly in and out or have any contact with wild birds.
Councillor Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “We are working closely with DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to help reduce the spread of the disease.
“Our Trading Standards officers will be visiting all properties within the control zone to identify bird owners, provide advice and ensure all flocks are identified for inspection by the APHA.”
Information signs are being put up on roads into and out of the 10km surveillance zone to inform drivers of the restrictions that are in place to reduce the spread of bird flu.
This control zone is in addition to new national measures which are due to come into force across the UK on Monday, which will mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.
The new regulations mean that, from Monday, all poultry 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;
These new housing measures will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks.
The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked eggs and poultry are safe to eat.
In a joint statement, the UK’s four Chief Veterinary Officers said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday November 29 onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.
“We have not taken this decision lightly, taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
People are being warned not to touch or pick up any dead or sick birds they find. Anyone who finds dead swans, geese, ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.
Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in captive birds to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200301.