- Scientists are investigating a bird flu outbreak which has hit the Dorset region
- So far 17 birds have been identified with a European strand of avian influenza
- Farmers in the area have been urged to keep their flocks of birds indoor
- Members of the public have been asked to report sightings of any dead birds
Bird flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, experts from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have confirmed today.
Scientists believe more cases of the potentially disease will emerge over the coming days.
Tests have found the infected birds are carrying a form of the disease closely related to the H5N6 strain that has infected birds across Europe, however it is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year.
Scientists have found 17 wild birds in Dorset which have been infected with Bird Flu
Experts have warned bird owners to keep their stock indoors to prevent them from catching avian flu which has been identified among wild birds in the Dorset region
Public Health England said the risk to the public is very low.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said: ‘This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.’
Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease.
In response to the scare, a local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ has been introduced in the Dorset area where the outbreak was located.
Farmers will be asked to increase bio-security measures and keep their birds indoors to minimise the mixing with wild birds and reduce the chance of spreading the disease.
Also, farmers have been asked to disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of bird enclosures.
Members of the public have also been asked to report sightings of any dead birds in the area to the department so the cause of death can be investigated.