8,000 ducks to be culled as Norfolk's third bird flu case confirmed
- Credit: Defra
A duck breeding farm near Attleborough has become Norfolk's third confirmed case of bird flu this month.
Defra says all 8,000 birds on the premises will now be humanely culled in an effort to stop the spread of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza, which has become a major threat to East Anglia's valuable poultry industry this winter.
It follows two cases confirmed earlier this month which prompted the cull of around 55,000 turkeys in the run-up to Christmas - one at a farm near King's Lynn and another at North Farm in Snetterton, which is only about 3km away from the new outbreak.
A Defra spokesman said animal health teams are "working to establish the likely source of the introduction and to establish if there is a link" between the two nearby cases, west of Attleborough.
A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have been declared around all the premises, including increased biosecurity and reporting requirements for poultry keepers including restrictions on the movement of poultry, eggs, meat and carcases.
From December 14, all poultry across the country - including free-range and back-yard flocks - have also been required to be kept indoors under a mandatory housing order announced by chief vets in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.
Gary Ford, East Anglia regional director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the latest outbreak proved the need for all poultry keepers to comply with the new rules.
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“This is more worrying news for our poultry farmers and highlights the vital need for all poultry keepers to exercise enhanced biosecurity, vigilance and prompt reporting," he said.
"They should report any signs of disease in their birds to their vet or the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the earliest opportunity.
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“I would remind everyone of the legal requirement to comply with the housing order measures that are in place, whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds. We all need to work together to tackle this disease."
Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
- Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers must report suspicion of disease to the APHA on 03000 200 301.