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Avian flu found in dead birds in three new areas of UK

Dead wild birds in three different areas of the UK have tested positive for the dangerous H5N8 strain of bird flu.

A wigeon on the water Credit: PA

On Friday, chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens confirmed cases of the H5N8 bird flu in Somerset and Leicestershire, while the Scottish Government confirmed the disease was found in a wild peregrine falcon in Dumfries and Galloway.

It comes after the Welsh Government on Thursday confirmed a case of the virus in a dead wild wigeon in Camarthenshire. And on December 16, Defra confirmed H5N8 had been identified in turkeys on a poultry farm near Louth in Lincolnshire. Those birds which had not already died were culled to limit the spread of disease.

A temporary ban on events involving gatherings of poultry, such as auctions and livestock fairs, has been imposed across England, Scotland and Wales.

A prevention zone is also in place, meaning anyone who keeps poultry and other captive birds must keep them inside or take other steps to ensure they do not interact with wild birds.

Experts have said the threat to public health from the virus is very low.

Mr Gibbens urged members of the public to report any findings of dead birds.

Today's confirmed findings mean that avian flu has now been found in wild birds in widely-separated parts of England, Wales and Scotland.

This is far from unexpected and reflects our risk assessments and the measures we have taken including introducing a housing order for poultry and a ban on gatherings.

We'll continue to work with ornithological groups to further strengthen surveillance and our understanding of the extent of infection in wild birds.

– Nigel Gibbens, chief veterinary officer
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