On-going Surveillance is Key says BPC

Maintaining a high level of surveillance of wild birds in the UK is key to helping contain the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI) says the British Poultry Council (BPC).

Disinfection procedures are underway at the Bernard Matthews turkey farm in Suffolk following the cull and rendering of 160,000 turkeys under direction from the State Veterinary Service.

BPC chief executive, Peter Bradnock said: "Wide and ongoing surveillance of wild birds in the UK, particularly susceptible waterfowl species, remains key. This outbreak has been contained and the risk to the general public is judged by health experts to be negligible.

"We are pleased that shoppers are supporting British poultry meat, assured that there is no risk in eating cooked poultry, and that is a message being echoed by the Food Standards Agency and the World Health Organisation".

Bradnock added that the apparent containment and culling of this outbreak had proved how effective partnership between government and the poultry sector could be.

He said DEFRA, the SVS, the Health Protection Agency, and others had dealt with the situation in a rapid and effective way and the controls in place were proportionate to the risk poultry farmers faced.

A protection zone of 3km radius around the area and a surveillance zone of 10km have been in place since Saturday 3 February.

A wider restricted zone is also in place, covering east Suffolk and South East Norfolk bounded to the west and the north by the A140 and A47 respectively, an area of approximately 2090sqkm. It requires the housing of all poultry or, if that is not possible, the complete separation of poultry farms from wild birds. Movement of all poultry and poultry products within these zones is controlled under licence.

The Great Britain Poultry Register has been used to issue text alerts to all those registered and poultry farmers are maintaining high vigilance and bio-security.

All hobbyist bird gatherings have been banned nationwide until further notice.

Epidemiological investigations into the source of the outbreak are continuing and the British Poultry Council is liaising closely with DEFRA.

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