Bird flu has been confirmed on a chicken farm in Suffolk, making it the first case of avian influenza affecting poultry or kept birds in the UK since June 2017.
Defra confirmed on Tuesday night (10 December) a case of H5 low pathogenicity avian influenza (H5 LPAI) on the broiler farm in mid-Suffolk.
A one-kilometre restriction zone has been put in place around the affected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
All birds, totalling 27,000, will be culled and an official investigation is underway to determine the most likely source of this outbreak.
The disease was picked up by a private veterinary surgeon who was investigating a drop in egg production in the flock, demonstrating the vital importance of disease surveillance and prompt reporting.
Public Health England has advised that the risk to public health from this H5 LPAI strain is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has emphasised that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
Thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
Poultry keepers are advised to maintain strict biosecurity, remain vigilant about the health of their birds, and talk to their vet in case of any concerns.
Responding to the disease outbreak, the British Veterinary Association and the British Veterinary Poultry Association said the virus poses 'very low risk' to public health.
“The quick identification of the suspected case by a private veterinary surgeon and swift precautionary measures to contain the disease also illustrate the ongoing importance of a robust veterinary surveillance system.
“BVA and BVPA urge all vets and poultry keepers, including keepers of backyard flocks and seasonal poultry producers, to remain vigilant to any unusual signs of disease and continue to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and biosecurity.
“Any suspicions of avian influenza should be reported to Defra as soon as possible.”
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is a less serious strain of H5 avian influenza.
It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection. The last confirmed case of LPAI in the UK was in Dunfermline in January 2016.
Since June 2017, there have been no detection of avian influenza in poultry or kept birds in the UK.
The UK has retained its OIE country freedom status since September 2017.
For further advice on avian influenza, contact the Defra Helpline on 03459 33 55 77.