Herefordshire farm staff given medication after bird flu found

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ALL chickens, geese and geese at a Herefordshire farm can be killed after bird flu was found at the location.

Farm staff who’ve been in touch with the birds have also been given a course of medication as there may be a small risk that folks can catch the disease.

But health officials have said the chance to the general public is low.

Two latest control zones were thrown around Ross-on-Wye last week after the flu was found at a farm on the outskirts of the town.

It means latest rules for bird keepers inside a 3 and 10-kilometre radius of the location, near the A40.

OTHER NEWS:

Herefordshire Council has now confirmed that the flu – the H5N1 strain – was present in a small flock of chickens, geese and geese.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) confirmed the bird flu on Thursday.

Since then, Herefordshire Council has been talking with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and there appears to be no wider risk, a spokesperson said.

But a spokesperson added that bird keepers must follow government requirements.

“The council acted quickly as soon as receiving information from Defra. The result’s a lack of livestock to the farmer, whose premises will undergo a complete disinfection under Defra and APHA supervision,” the spokesperson said.

“Herefordshire Council is currently within the technique of writing to or visiting every household inside a three-kilometre protection zone of the affected premises, to make sure that poultry keepers are taking the obligatory precautions in keeping with Defra guidance.”

It’s the third site in Herefordshire where bird flu has been confirmed this winter, with the opposite farms in Shobdon, near Leominster, and Clifford, near Hay-on-Wye.

Dr James Chipwete, consultant in communicable disease control with the UKHSA within the West Midlands, said: “The A(H5N1) strain is very pathogenic to poultry and other birds, which is why it essential that poultry owners follow the Defra guidance.

“While the chance to human health is taken into account very low, it is feasible for humans to catch the virus through close contact with an infected bird, dead or alive.

“Due to this fact, it is rather essential that folks don’t touch birds infected with avian flu, their carcasses, droppings, bedding or eggs – and infection control measures could also be obligatory in the event that they do.

“As a precaution, the farm staff who’ve been in touch with the infected birds have been given a course of antiviral medication and are undergoing close monitoring for 10 days from last contact with infected birds.”

OTHER NEWS:

Marc Willimont, head of public protection at Herefordshire Council, said: “While any outbreak of avian flu is a priority, we don’t expect this relatively minor incident to adversely affect others.

“I can reassure the general public that we acted as soon as we were made aware of the incident by Defra and that we’ve got followed all the federal government department’s guidelines to assist minimise the chance of any potential spread of the virus in the encompassing area.

“Residents in Ross-on-Wye can expect to receive a letter with further details from the council inside the subsequent week.

“Other rural premises inside the three-kilometre zone are more likely to receive a visit to make sure all poultry keepers have put precautions in place and are complying with the federal government’s protection zone.”

Bird flu has been found at 69 English sites this winter, with the chief veterinary officers of England, Scotland and Wales declaring an avian influenza prevention zone (AIPZ) across the entire of Great Britain, to mitigate the chance of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.

The Government has also introduced mandatory housing measures for all poultry and other captive birds to limit the spread of avian influenza within the UK.

Anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds also needs to take extra precautions including keeping their birds indoors or taking appropriate steps to maintain them separate from wild birds the RSPCA has provided a straightforward guide to assist backyard flock keepers to guard their birds from bird flu.

“It will be important to be vigilant for any signs of disease, in the event you are concerned about your birds’ health or suspect avian influenza, please contact your vet immediately,” the council spokesperson said.

“Herefordshire Council and the UKHSA desires to remind residents not to the touch or pick up any dead or sick birds. In case you find dead swans, geese, geese or other dead wild birds, akin to gulls or birds of prey, you need to report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.”

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