BIRD FLU UPDATE: Yorkshire bird flu strain identified

Defra has confirmed the bird flu outbreak at a Yorkshire farm has been identified as the highly contagious H5N8 strain found recently in the Netherlands.

The outbreak was discovered in ducks at the Cherry Valley Foods in Nafferton, East Yorkshire. The process of culling all 6,000 susceptible birds began earlier today, and is expected to be completed later this evening, according to a Defra spokesperson.

A 10km surveillance zone is also in place around the site, which includes another poultry farm run by 2 Sisters Food Group.

The H5N8 strain of avian influenza was identified earlier this week at a farm in the Netherlands, and earlier this month in Germany.

Defra said the danger to public health remained low, as humans could only be infected through very close contact with an infected bird. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also advised there was no risk to the food chain.

However, the strain is very dangerous to bird life, killing 1,000 of a flock of 150,000 layer and breeding hens at the Utrecht province farm, veterinary authorities said in a report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

2 Sisters said in a statement: “The birds at this facility are 20 days old, and will be on-site for another 12 days. No birds have been taken from this site for the past 27 days.

“As our protocols dictate, we are suspending all farm visits, including audits and farmer meetings, for the next seven days. All deliveries onto farms will be kept to an absolute minimum.”

Defra officials said the most likely source of the virus was birds migrating south for the winter.

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