AI returns to the UK

by Erica Shaffer
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LANCASHIRE, England – A cull of 170,000 chickens and turkeys is underway at a poultry farm in the county of Lancashire in the northwest of England. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) officials confirmed the presence of H7N7 avian influenza.

Local media have identified the farm as Staveley’s Eggs. Avian influenza was suspected at the farm on July 10, but Defra confirmed the outbreak on July 13. Defra imposed a 10-km surveillance zone and an inner 3-km protection zone around the affected farm. The agency said all poultry farms within the 10-km control zone around the infected premises are not allowed to move poultry, captive birds or other mammals except under license.

“Final tests results have confirmed a case of avian flu at a farm in Lancashire,” Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said. “Restrictions put in place last week will continue and the humane culling of all birds at the site is progressing. These actions are part of our tried and tested approach to dealing with previous outbreaks.”

Public Health England confirmed that the risk to the public from H7N7 is very low, Gibbens added. Humans have been known to become sick from the strain, but human infections are very rare and very rarely become serious illnesses. The Food Standards Authority said there is no food safety risk to the public.

“We have a strong track record of controlling and eliminating previous outbreaks of avian flu in the UK,” Gibbens noted. “The outbreaks in Yorkshire last year and Hampshire in February were both successfully contained, allowing restrictions to be lifted at the earliest opportunity.”
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