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LONDON – A small, backyard flock of chickens at a farm near Thornton, Wyre, Lancashire tested positive for H5N8 avian influenza, the Dept. for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) reported. An avian influenza prevention zone is in place across England until May 15 and applies to all individuals and businesses who keep poultry or captive birds.

In response to the recent finding, a 3-km protection zone and a 10-km surveillance zone were established around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. A number of birds in the affected flock have died and the remaining live birds at the premises were culled. The flock contained an estimated 30 birds. Defra has launched an investigation to determine the source of the infection.

In the meantime, a ban on all poultry gatherings remains in place across the United Kingdom until May 15. Defra said in a statement that “…We also expect this ban to be lifted on 15 May and gatherings can resume from that date, subject to some additional identity and health checks and biosecurity measures.”

Elsewhere in the UK, the avian influenza prevention zone was lifted on April 30 in Scotland. The prevention zone covering Northern Ireland was extended until the end of May. The Dept. of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, announced that a phased approach to poultry gatherings will be introduced starting May 1. The scheme will allow poultry shows, initially with single demonstration flocks, subject to there being no further avian influenza suspects or outbreaks.

“However, there continues to be a ban on gatherings (livestock fairs, auctions, shows or other events) of some species of birds until the end of May and this applies to those attending with bird species which are considered at higher risk of spreading avian influenza, including all poultry and game bird species, ducks, geese and swans,” the agency said.