Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed on a turkey farm near Ludlow, Shropshire, by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Shropshire Council yesterday (June 1).

As per protocol, a 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone were put in place around the premises. In addition, all poultry on the premises will also be humanely culled.

The most recently confirmed bird flu case prior to this was on May 19; HPAI H5N1 was confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire. This followed another case in Nottinghamshire on May 7.

Earlier that month, on May 2, the mandatory housing measures introduced across the UK to help stop the spread of bird flu were lifted.

At that that time, the UK's chief veterinary officers urged the people not to become complacent as the disease threat - now evidently - was still at large.

 "It’s vital that bird keepers remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity," they said.

Biosecurity standards

Shropshire Council has issued some "simple measures" that all poultry keepers should take to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu. These include:

  • Keep the area where birds live clean and tidy, control rats and mice and regularly clean and disinfect any hard surfaces;
  • Keep chickens and turkeys completely separate from ducks and geese;
  • Conduct regular maintenance checks on their sheds;
  • Clean moss off the roofs, empty gutters and remove vegetation between sheds where birds are kept;
  • Draw up contingency plans for storing bedding and dealing with pests;
  • Place birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly;
  • Put fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl;
  • Clean and disinfect footwear before and after entering premises where birds are kept;
  • Avian influenza is not air-borne, except over very short distances. It is spread by movement of infected birds or contact with respiratory secretions and in particular faeces, either directly or through contaminated objects, clothes and vehicles.