King Charles will today (Thursday, March 9) visit the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in Weybridge to congratulate its staff for their response to the avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak.

The bird flu outbreak, which is the largest ever experienced in the UK, saw 330 cases confirmed in the country since October 2021.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said APHA’s scientists and staff played a vital role in supporting bird flu diagnostics and disease control.

Today, King Charles III will undertake a full tour of APHA, which will involve briefings on animal health disease like bird flu and bovine tuberculosis (bTB), as well as plant health challenges.

He will also visit dedicated specialist research labs to see genome mapping and a mosquito laboratory where he will learn about APHA’s vector-borne disease (VBD) programme.

Chief executive of APPA, David Holdsworth, said the agency’s staff “work tirelessly” to protect the UK, its people and economy from the growing biosecurity threats it faces.

“They have faced a relentless battle against avian influenza over the last two years,” he said.

“So I am pleased to welcome His Majesty The King to Weybridge to meet with APHA staff from Scotland, Wales and England and see first-hand the incredible work they do. 

“I am proud to showcase our world-leading scientists, field teams and staff and the role they play in protecting the country.”

Speaking ahead of The King’s visit, chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “Today’s visit really is about recognising the last 18 months of remarkable work and the APHA staff who have worked day in and day out to help control and manage the spread of avian influenza. 

“The scale of avian influenza outbreaks across the UK and Europe has been unprecedented and our response has been underpinned by the world-leading science and disease control work carried out at Weybridge.”