Bird flu found in 5,000 birds poses ‘no safety risk’

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Bird flu was found in 5,000 turkeys at a farm in Lincolnshire (Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Bird flu was found in 5,000 turkeys at a farm in Lincolnshire (Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Related tags Bird flu Influenza Avian influenza

Bird flu poses no food safety risk for consumers, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) insists, after avian flu (H5N8) was found in 5,000 turkeys at a farm near Louth, Lincolnshire on Friday (December 16).

Most of the birds at the farm had died, and any remaining birds would be culled, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed.

The FSA has insisted that thoroughly cooked poultry was safe to eat, even though meat from the affected flocks was condemned.

DEFRA chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbons confirmed the bird flu strain found in Lincolnshire was the same strain affecting poultry in Europe.

“Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and all remaining poultry at the farm will be culled,”​ Gibbons said.

Limit the risk of the disease spreading

“Public Health England ​[PHE] has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.”

Bird keepers must remain vigilant to any signs of the virus, and suspected disease should be reported immediately, urged Gibbons.

A 3km protection zone around the farm was announced by DEFRA on December 16, as well as a 10km surveillance zone.

Risk to humans is very low

A PHE spokesman said: “Avian flu is primarily a disease of birds. We continue to work closely with DEFRA throughout this investigation.

“Despite the risk being very low, we will offer health advice to those people who may have been exposed on the farm as a precaution.

Farmers were told to keep poultry indoors for 30 days by DEFRA on December 7 in a bid to protect the industry from a “devastating”​ outbreak of bird flu that had been found in eight European countries. DEFRA confirmed the 30-day housing order remained in place.

Meanwhile, the last strain of bird flu found in the UK was recorded at a poultry farm in Dunfermline on January 13 2016. The virus was contained at the farm and eradicated “very quickly”​, DEFRA claimed.

Bird flu threat – at a glance

  • Bird flu strain found in 5,000 turkeys at Lincolnshire farm
  • Remaining birds culled and 3km protection zone enforced
  • FSA and PHE claim the virus poses little threat to humans

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