Bird flu outbreak detected in a UK flock of 10,000 pheasants

An outbreak of bird flu has been detected in a flock of 10,000 farmed breeding pheasants at a premises in Preston, Lancahshire in the UK.

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed the presence of the H5N8 strain of the avian influenza in the flock.

A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The flock is estimated to contain approximately 10,000 birds. A number of these have reportedly died already and the remaining live birds at the premises are being humanely culled.

A full investigation is under way to determine the source of the infection.

Public Health England advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

All poultry keepers in the UK are currently required by law to house their birds or to keep them separate from wild birds.

This is because a prevention zone is currently in force across the UK, until February 28.

This prevention zone, which was declared just before Christmas, also remains in force in Northern Ireland but it has been extended until March 16.

The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs made the decision due to the continued risk of the highly pathogenic disease following recent outbreaks in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Latest Outbreak in the Republic of Ireland

The third case of bird flu was identified in Ireland on January 18, this time in a whooper swan found in Co. Tipperary, the Department of Agriculture confirmed.

It is understood that the swan was found in the Borrisokane area of the county.

This does not mean that the risk of introduction of the virus to poultry or other birds is confined to that immediate area, the Department warned.

The Department emphasises the requirement to confine poultry and other birds, and to apply strict bio-security measures to prevent the introduction of avian influenza.