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Avian flu confirmed in backyard flock in Yorkshire

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed H5N8 avian flu in a small backyard flock near Settle in North Yorkshire.

A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. The remaining live birds in the small flock of chickens and ducks are being humanely culled.

The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: "We have taken swift action to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Restrictions are now in place around the affected premises and a full investigation is underway to determine the source of the infection.

"This finding in a backyard flock shows how essential it is for all poultry owners, even those who just keep a few birds as pets, to do everything they can to keep them separate from wild birds and minimise the risk of them catching avian flu via the environment.

"This means keeping birds in a suitable building where possible, and taking precautions such as putting up netting, keeping food and water inside and disinfecting footwear and equipment after contact with birds."

The Chief Vet has issued practical advise for people with backyard poultry on how to limit the risk to their birds by complying with the prevention order which legally requires them to keep birds separate from wild birds and practicing good biosecurity.

This is the same strain which was found in a backyard flock in Carmarthenshire, Wales, earlier this month, at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire last month and in a number of wild birds in England, Wales and Scotland.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that has been in place since 6 December has been extended until 28 February. The zone requires keepers of poultry and other captive birds to continue to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate practical steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.

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