LONDON – The H5N8 strain of avian influenza recently was found at a turkey farm in Louth, Lincolnshire, England, the Dept. for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) reported.
Defra said most of the birds on the farm have died, and any surviving birds will be humanely culled. More than 5,000 birds at the farm were affected.
In response to the finding, the agency implemented a 3-km. protection zone and a 10-km. surveillance zone around the affected premises to limit the spread of the disease. This means that movement of birds, mammals, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure, on or off premises where poultry is present and out of the zones are banned without a license. Additionally, no gatherings of poultry or the release of game birds are allowed in the zones.
“This is the same strain that has been affecting poultry in Europe,” Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said in a statement. “Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and all remaining poultry at the farm will be culled.
“…Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.”
Defra implemented prevention zones in England, Scotland and Wales on Dec. 6. The Scottish government urged poultry producers to maintain strict biosecurity protocols including keeping birds housed and separated from wild birds. Lincolnshire is about six hours away from Scotland.
The Food Safety Standards Agency emphasized that the virus does not pose a food safety risk to UK consumers, and expects no impact on the supplies of turkeys or other birds over the Christmas holidays. Defra estimated UK consumers would eat approximately 10 million turkeys over Christmas.