Medicine

First bird flu outbreak this winter confirmed in Britain

First bird flu outbreak this winter confirmed in Britain

Seventeen wild birds have been found in an area west of Weymouth with a virus closely related to the H5N6 strain.

Last year, The World Health Organisation confirmed that 840 people had been infected by the H6N1 virus worldwide by May 2015 and 447 of the cases were fatal. This strain has already been identified in dead wildfowl found recently in Holland and Germany.

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 previous year.

The risk of bird flu to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency said it did not pose a risk to United Kingdom consumers.

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise".

The disease is highly contagious among birds and bird owners and farmers have been warned to be vigilant and maintain good biosecurity.

The swannery is the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans
The swannery is the world's only managed colony of nesting mute swans

A Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) spokesman said: "We strongly recommend that all poultry keepers - including backyard keepers - review their biosecurity measures and business continuity plans now, as the risk level may well increase in the coming weeks".

It will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place. The GB Poultry Register shows that there are some 40 premises keeping poultry within 10km of the swannery, although only 5 have more than 5k birds (i.e. commercial). The Abbottsbury site is now closed, although the Fleet estuary is not. The national risk remains "medium" for wild birds.

Defra intend to put in place a local solution in the form of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ).

Also, farmers have been asked to disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of bird enclosures.

Different strains of bird flu can spread to people when they have direct contact with the infection.

"They should familiarise themselves with DAERA guidance on good biosecurity and how to report suspicion of disease appropriately".

Callum Smith v Jurgen Brahmer set for Germany
The final for the super-middleweight tournament is set to be held during May in a location yet to be confirmed by the WBSS. Those wishes have been ignored by the WBSS organisers who will put on the fight in Nuremberg.


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