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Bird flu outbreak in Dorset as officials do door-to-door testing and set up 3km exclusion zone

A bird flu outbreak has been confirmed in Dorset today as 39 domestic ducks are culled after a case of the ‘highly pathogenic’ H5N1 strain is found.

The strain of avian influenza was detected at a premises in Southbourne, Bournemouth.

To contain its spread, Government and local health officials are doing door-to-door testing in the area to check for any further cases. 

They have also constructed a 3km temporary exclusion zone centred around Castlemain Avenue to prevent animal movements.

Elsa Hatton, of Southbourne, said a case of the avian influenza H5N1 strain had been found in her flock of 39 domestic ducks. 

The domestic ducks were kept to sell eggs to the local community and have since been culled. 

Elsa Hatton, of Southbourne, said a case of the avian influenza H5N1 strain had been found in her flock of 39 domestic ducks (pictured)

Government and local health officials have constructed a 3km temporary exclusion zone centred around Castlemain Avenue to prevent animal movements

Government and local health officials have constructed a 3km temporary exclusion zone centred around Castlemain Avenue to prevent animal movements

WHAT IS BIRD FLU?

Also known as avian influenza, bird flu is an infectious disease of birds caused by a variant of the standard influenza A virus. 

Bird flu is unique in that it can be transmitted directly from birds to humans. 

There are 15 different strains of the virus. It is the H5N1 strain which is infecting humans and causing high death rates. 

Humans can catch bird flu directly through close contact with live infected birds and those who work with infected chickens are most at risk. 

‘We sold eggs to local people for five years in Christchurch and have made many new connections and forged some wonderful friendships through selling eggs here in Southbourne for five years,’ she told Dorset Live.

‘We are truly heartbroken as ducks are such happy characters and were very much a part of our family.

‘We’ll get some more ducks in due course, probably in the Spring.’

Mrs Hatton has shared a tribute to the ducks along with a photo before they were culled. 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed the case in birds at the premises and the area is currently undergoing testing.

Other birds that pose a direct risk will be culled.

A BCP Council spokesperson said: ‘Trading Standards Officers from BCP Council are working alongside officers from the Government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) with measures to prevent the spread of the disease. 

‘These measures include a cull of the birds who pose a direct risk, as well as further investigation over the weekend into premises in the area who are breeding or keeping birds.

‘Please be advised that a 3km Temporary Control Zone has been constructed around an area centred on Castlemain Avenue at this time with regard to animal movements. 

‘APHA and BCP Council officers will be knocking on doors in the zone from tomorrow to check for potential further cases. Please note that these officers will be carrying ID.’

Peter Haikin, Regulatory Services Manager, said: ‘Avian Influenza predominantly affects only birds and is not considered to be an illness which poses a risk to the general public.’ 

All bird keepers in Great Britain are now required by law to undergo certain biosecurity procedures following an outbreak of Avian Flu being declared to help prevent further spread.

Bird flu cases have also been reported in Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Essex, Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Derbyshire. 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed the case in birds at the premises and the area is currently undergoing testing (stock image)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed the case in birds at the premises and the area is currently undergoing testing (stock image) 

Last week, people in Lancashire were warned not to pick up any sick or dying birds after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed at a poultry farm.

A temporary control zone was declared around the affected site in Salwick, near Preston.

Elsewhere, a protection zone was also set up in North Yorkshire after birds there were identified to have the H5N1 virus, the BBC reported.

Defra confirmed the strain of bird flu was found at a property near Leeming Bar, Hambleton, and that testing was underway. 

Earlier this month, a bird flu prevention zone was declared across the country after a number of cases of the virus were detected in captive and wild birds in England, Wales and Scotland.

Farms and bird keepers were ordered to toughen their biosecurity measures after the avian influenza was spotted in poultry at multiple sites across the UK.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will see keepers with more than 500 birds have to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites.

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