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Bird flu strain found on Scottish farm

Culling of the birds is underway and a 1 km control zone has been put in place following the discovery of bird flu in Fife.


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Restrictions are in place around the farm in Dunfermline
Restrictions are in place around the farm in Dunfermline

Scottish poultry producers have been warned to remain vigilant following a suspected case of avian influenza in Fife.

 

The Scottish Government said initial tests results on chickens at a farm in Dunfermline indicated a presence of a notifiable strain of Avian Influenza (H5).

 

The birds at the premises will be culled and a 1 km Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) put in place around the farm.

 

It comes after a number of recent cases of avian influenza across continental Europe over the last few months, including three cases in other parts of the UK in 2015.

 

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: “We have taken immediate action to contain this case as part of our robust procedures for dealing swiftly with avian flu.

 

"Evidence suggests this is a low severity form of the virus however we are taking action to ensure that the disease does not spread or develop into a more severe form.

 

“I would urge poultry keepers in the surrounding area to be vigilant for any signs of disease and to ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.”

 

NFU Scotland’s vice president Andrew McCornick said the outbreak was ‘worrying but not unexpected’, given the number of cases of low pathogenic avian influenza linked to migratory birds and wildfowl across the UK and Europe.

 

He said high health was something Scottish poultry producers had always taken great pride in, but reminded all poultry keepers – large and small – of the need for vigilance.

 

“Given the growing number of people keeping backyard hens, it is worth restating that avian influenza is a notifiable disease and that all poultry keepers have an obligation to notify the authorities if they suspect disease," said Mr McCornick.

 

“Backyard hens can often be at higher risk because of their closer contact with wild birds.”

 

BVA president Sean Wensley said the suspected outbreak was evidence of the ’vital’ surveillance role played by front-line vets in protecting animal and human health.

 

"We commend the veterinary surgeon involved in detecting the outbreak in Fife, which has enabled a swift and effective response by the Scottish Government and all other organisations involved," he said.

 

“We urge poultry keepers and vets working in the area to remain vigilant and to report any concerns to their local Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) office."

 

Dr Jim McMenamin, consultant epidemiologist and respiratory infection lead for Health Protection Scotland said the risk to human health in this case was considered ‘very low’.

 

Food Standards Scotland added there was no food safety risk for UK consumers.

 

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead added: "Livestock owners and the general public should be assured that we are doing everything we can to control and prevent the spread of the disease.

 

“Any poultry producers who are concerned should immediately seek veterinary advice.”


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