Avian influenza confirmed in poultry flock of 13,000 in Cheshire

Avian influenza (bird flu) of the H5N8 strain has been confirmed at a premises near Frodsham in Cheshire.

Further testing is now underway to determine if it is a highly pathogenic strain and whether it is related to the virus currently circulating in Europe.

All 13,000 birds at the farm, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. 3km and 10km temporary control zones have been put in place around the infected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

This case is unrelated to the H5N2 strain which was confirmed at a small commercial premises near Deal in Kent on October 2.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

‘Immediate steps have been taken’

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

Avian flu has been confirmed at a commercial farm near Frodsham in Cheshire. Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and all remaining poultry at the farm will be culled.

There are some simple measures that all poultry keepers, whether they are running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in their back garden, or rearing game birds, should take to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu.

These include:
  • Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly cleansing and disinfecting any hard surfaces;
  • Cleaning footwear before and after visits;
  • Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly;
  • Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl;
  • Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.