Chickens culled after bird flu confirmed in Orkney

Chickens culled after bird flu confirmed in Orkney

A flock of free range chickens from a farm in Orkney has been culled after positive cases of bird flu were found.

A six-mile (10km) control zone has been set up on the island of Sanday.

The controls include restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure and restrictions on bird gatherings.

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said the risk to human health from the H5N8 Avian Influenza was very low.

Bird keepers have been urged to comply with an order to house birds that came in to effect on 14 December.

Ms Voas said: “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 dead wild bird helpline.”

She added 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.

Because of the number of cases in Europe and in England the risk of bird flu is currently judged to be very high for wild birds, high for poultry where there is poor biosecurity and medium for poultry with protection measures in place.

A number of swans were recently found dead near the Hampshire coast and on the Isle of Wight and there were culls in Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Earlier cases have included two farms in Norfolk, East Anglia and a wildlife centre in Gloucestershire. All 10,500 turkeys at a farm in North Yorkshire were culled following an outbreak.

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said Scottish cases were not “unexpected” given the cases in wild and captive birds elsewhere in the UK.

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

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