Urgent warning if you keep poultry

Message from Ward Councillor Roger Phillips:

There is a positive avian influenza case in Herefordshire at Knapton (near Bush Bank). The strain H5N8 is very infectious to birds. The cause is thought to be wild geese migrating over this are, and this ties in with the same variant found at Cheshire, Gloucestershire and Devon in the last day or two – the same migration flight path.

If you keep poultry, whether commercially on a farm, or as pets in your garden, or rearing game birds, you should keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your poultry, seek prompt advice from your vet. Please go to the Defra website  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#latest-situation

Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

You should register your poultry even if only kept as pets, so Defra can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.

The case is at Knapton and effects 46,000 birds in an intensive breeding unit and have been slaughtered, so there may be other sites impacted if infected eggs have been moved on – we think this likely, although that is Defra’s role to trace.

Defra have effectively created 2 zones around the farm – one at a 3km radius; and a second area  at 10km radius which includes most of my ward – the outer one has fewer restrictions.

It is estimated the inner 3km zone to have 384 houses within which our enforcement officers will need to door knock to ensure the tight restrictions prevail here. We have no idea about the number of farms or houses within the larger 10km radius, as its declaration was unexpected so early on.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, Consultant in Acute Respiratory Infections at Public Health England said: “To date, there have been no human cases of infection with influenza A(H5N8) confirmed by the World Health Organization and the risk to public health is very low.  The local Health Protection Team will continue to monitor the situation closely.”