LONDON – The H5 strain of avian influenza has been confirmed at a commercial chicken farm in Mid Suffolk in the United Kingdom, the Dept. for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) reported.

Christine Middlemiss, Chief Veterinary Officer, said a 1 km restriction zone was established around the infected farm, and 27,000 birds will be culled to prevent disease spread. Defra has launched an investigation to determine the most likely source of the outbreak.

“Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers,” Middlemiss said. “Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.

“We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this strain to control and eliminate it,” she added.

The Food Standards Agency said bird flu does not present a food safety risk. Gavin Dabrera, public health consultant with Public Health England, emphasized that avian influenza presents a very low risk to public health as it is primarily a disease of birds.

“As a precaution,” Debrera said, “we are offering public health advice and antivirals to those who had contact with the affected birds, as is standard practice.”