Restriction zone set up in Kent after bird flu outbreak

Nearly 500 birds on a farm in Kent are set to be killed after a bird flu outbreak. 

A 1km restriction zone has been put in place near the town of Deal to limit the impact of the disease, with urgent enquiries underway to find out if the H5N2 avian influenza strain has spread further.

The Government confirmed on Monday that all 480 birds on the unnamed site, which is a small commercial premises, will be culled. 

Public Health England (PHE) said the risk to public health from the virus is very low, while the Food Standards Agency says bird flu does not pose a food safety risk to UK consumers. Thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat, it said. 

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: ;Avian flu has been confirmed at a small commercial premise in Kent.

‘Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and all remaining poultry and captive birds at the farm will be culled.’

There is not expected to be an impact on food supply as this business does not supply poultry meat or eggs to the commercial food chain.

She added: ‘Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.

‘We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this farm to control and eliminate it.’

Bird flu is an uncommon infection in humans and the risk to the UK population remains very low, Dr Gavin Dabrera, Consultant in acute respiratory infections at PHE said.

In late October, the bird flu threat in the UK was raised from ‘low’ to ‘medium’.

He added: ‘Do not touch any sick or dead birds and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after contact with any animal.’

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

The UK has previously seen other minor outbreaks of various strains of bird flu.

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