Battle to contain Melton bird flu intensifies

The battle to clampdown on an outbreak of bird flu at a site near Melton has intensified this week with trading standards officials making contact with bird owners in the area.

Friday, 27th November 2020, 6:05 pm
Updated Friday, 27th November 2020, 6:20 pm
The bird flu temporary restriction zones placed around the Melton area following an outbreak of the disease locally EMN-201123-085328001

The Leicestershire County Council officers are knocking on doors to identify everyone who owns birds within 3km of the affected site.

A temporary control zone, set up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), covers a 10km radius of the location where the infected birds were identified, understood to be Twinlakes Theme Park.

It is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in the affected area to follow increased measures in an attempt to reduce the risk of spreading avian flu in the bird population.

Councillor Blake Pain, deputy leader of Leicestershire County Council and cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “We are working closely with DEFRA to help reduce the spread of the disease.

“Our trading standards animal health officers will be visiting properties within 3km of the confirmed avian flu case to identify anyone who has birds, to provide advice and guidance and to ensure that all flocks are identified for an inspection by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).”

The Leicestershire trading standards team is working with teams from Rutland County Council and Nottinghamshire County Council to enforce the restrictions and they are all working with the Local Resilience Forum, who are coordinating the response.

There is an inner 3km protection zone – where the door-knocking will be carried out – and a wider 10km surveillance zone.

This includes parts of Melton and Whissendine and straddles the county borders with both Rutland and Nottinghamshire.

Councillor Oliver Hemsley, leader of Rutland County Council, said: “It is really important that bird keepers in Rutland, particularly in Whissendine, adhere to the additional requirements to protect their flock.”

Within the control zones there are further recording requirements, movement restrictions requiring a licence, and birds within the protection zone need to be housed in enclosures.

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The UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease.

“It is important that bird keepers ensure they are doing all they can to maintain and strengthen biosecurity measures on their premises to prevent further outbreaks.”

Bird keepers and members of the public are being asked to report any dead wild birds to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 335577 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200301.

Public Health England 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.

The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review.

Poultry keepers and members of the public who live in the Melton Mowbray area can check whether they live in the protection zone or the surveillance zone on the map at the top of this article.