Outbreak of bird flu confirmed in turkeys at British farm

The disease has been affecting animals across Europe

Outbreak of bird flu confirmed in turkeys at British farm

File photo. Picture by Nick Ansell PA Archive/PA Images

An outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed in turkeys at a farm in England.

The farm is located near Louth in Lincolnshire.

More than 5,000 birds have been affected with the H5N8 strain of the disease.

A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone is now in place around the farm to prevent the disease spreading.

Most of the birds at the site have died and officials say the rest will be culled.

The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed the outbreak and said the disease has been affecting animals across Europe.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said immediate steps had been taken to stop the spread and reassure the public. 

"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," he said.

PHE said Avian flu was "primarily a disease of birds", and there have never been any recorded cases of H5N8 in humans.

A "prevention zone" was set up across England, Scotland and Wales last week after a virulent strain of the virus was picked up in Europe.

All poultry and captive bird keepers were advised to house their birds.

The DEFRA said theses measures remain in place and advised people to report any suspected cases.

A detailed investigation is in progress to determine the most likely source of the outbreak.

The Irish Department of Agriculture says the situation in Europe "is being continuously monitored and reassessed by this Department and in the event of an increased risk additional measures to prevent a disease incursion will be considered". 

'Remain vigilant'

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture advised poultry farm owners to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, maintain strict biosecurity measures and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.

An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Councils with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.

"The Department continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and maintains close contact with our counterparts in DAERA on the matter," the statement reads.