Outbreak of Avian Influenza confirmed in Wales

A case of Avian Influenza (AI) has been confirmed on premises in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire.

The H5N8 strain of the disease was identified in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks. Before the virus was confirmed, the decision had already been made to cull the poultry, based on strong suspicion of the disease.

A three-kilometre Protection Zone and 10-kilometre Surveillance Zone has been implemented around the infected premises to prevent the disease spreading further.

This case of Avian Influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock near Pontyberem in Carmarthenshire follows the findings of infection in wild birds and a confirmed case in Lincolnshire, said Wales Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths.

It serves to reinforce the need for all bird-keepers, particularly backyard flock-keepers, to adhere to the requirements set out in the Prevention Zone, remain vigilant for signs of disease and practise good biosecurity at all times.

Advice from Public Health Wales is that the risk to public health is low, while the Food Standards Agency made it clear that AI does not pose a threat to food safety for UK consumers.

This case serves to remind us all of the risk of infection, added Wales chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop. The Prevention Zone and temporary suspension on gathering of poultry remain in place.

It is extremely important that bird-keepers practise the very highest levels of biosecurity. Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds. The movement of poultry should be minimised, and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected.

Keepers who are concerned about the health of their birds should seek advice from their veterinary surgeon. If animals are showing signs of disease, then they should immediately be reported to the local Animal and Plant Health Agency office.

Keepers are also encouraged to provide details of their flocks to the Poultry Register, enabling them to be contacted immediately in the event of an avian disease outbreak.

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