Bird flu confirmed in chickens on island farm

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·2-min read

Bird flu has been confirmed in a free range flock of chickens from a farm on a Scottish island.

The Scottish Government said the remaining birds at the premises on Sanday in Orkney have been humanely culled and a six-mile (10km) temporary control zone has been set up.

A range of controls are in place in this zone, including restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure, and restrictions on bird gatherings.

Authorities said appropriate restrictions have been imposed on the premises and any identified contact premises to limit spread of the disease, H5N8 Avian Influenza, after birds in a free range laying flock of chickens tested positive.

Thirty-nine birds in the flock died and the remaining 11 were put down.

Scotland’s chief veterinary officer, Sheila Voas, said: “This case of H5N8 in a flock of birds on Sanday confirms that avian influenza is present in Scotland.

“We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch to protect their birds from disease and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds.

“Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office will also be able to provide practical advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.

“Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, falcons or other birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, should be reported to the Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) dead wild bird helpline.

“Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.”

The Scottish Government said in light of evidence from the Continent and ongoing high numbers of findings among wild bird populations in England, the risk of incursion of avian influenza has been increased to very high for wild birds, medium for poultry with high biosecurity, and high for poultry with poor biosecurity.

Scottish rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said: “With the recent disease confirmations in wild and captive birds in the UK, it is not unexpected for avian influenza to be found in birds here in Scotland.

“We ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds.”