Scotland urged to be vigilant after bird flu found in Fife

By Laurence Gibbons contact

- Last updated on GMT

A farm in Dunfermline is on lockdown and planning a cull after a suspected case of bird flu was found
A farm in Dunfermline is on lockdown and planning a cull after a suspected case of bird flu was found

Related tags: Bird flu, Avian influenza, Influenza

A suspected case of bird flu has been identified on a farm in Scotland, causing the country’s government to issue a warning to nearby poultry processors.

The suspected case of avian influenza was identified in chickens on a farm in Dunfermline, Fife.

A temporary 1km control zone has been put in place around the farm and a “humane cull”​ will take place at the site in a bid to limit the spread of the disease, the Scottish government said.

It warned all Scottish poultry producers to stay vigilant following the identification of avian influenza.

‘Be vigilant’

“We have taken immediate action to contain this case as part of our robust procedures for dealing swiftly with avian flu,”​ Scotland’s chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas said.

“I would urge poultry keepers in the surrounding area to be vigilant for any signs of disease and to ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.”

Evidence suggests this is a low severity form of the virus, however action to ensure that the disease does not spread or develop into a more severe form has been taken, she added.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans.

Two particular strains have caused serious concern in recent years:

  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)

Source: NHS

Initial tests suggest it is a low pathogenic strain of avian influenza known as H5.

A range of different controls are in place which include restrictions of the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure and restrictions on bird gatherings.

Low risk to human health

Dr Jim McMenamin, consultant epidemiologist and respiratory infection lead for Health Protection Scotland, said: “Based on what we know about this strain of avian influenza and the actions that have been taken, the risk to human health in this case is considered very low.

“Health Protection Scotland continues to work closely with Animal Health throughout this investigation"

On the basis of current scientific evidence, bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers, Rita Botto, head veterinarian of Food Standard Scotland said.

Cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said: “Livestock owners and the general public should be assured that we are doing everything we can to control and prevent the spread of the disease. Any poultry producers who are concerned should immediately seek veterinary advice.”

Bird flu fears in recent years

  • Feb 2015: ​Three workers tested negative for avian influenza after showing flu-like symptoms at a Upham farm
  • Nov 2014: ​Bird flu found on Yorkshire duck farm
  • April 2013: ​Bernard Matthews’ Suffolk site put on lockdown after bird flu detected

 

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