Chief vet urges Suffolk poultry keepers to step up efforts in fight against Bird Flu outbreaks

Bird flu outbreak in Suffolk Credit: The UK is facing its largest ever outbreak of the disease, which affects both poultry including chickens, ducks and geese, and wild birds, with more than 100 cases confirmed since the start of November

Poultry keepers in Suffolk are being urged to step up their efforts in the fight against bird flu in the face of a spike in cases in the county.

The call from the chief vet comes in the face of five new premises confirmed as being infected with highly pathogenic bird flu in Suffolk in the last month alone.

The UK is facing its largest ever outbreak of the disease, which affects both poultry including chickens, ducks and geese, and wild birds, with more than 100 cases confirmed since the start of November.

The outbreak was first reported in our region last November. Earlier this month thousands of ducks were culled after a bird flu outbreak in Suffolk.

A farm near Redgrave was found to have the HN51 strain of disease, which is highly infectious to many birds.

Farmers and other livestock owners are being told to keep up measures against the disease, including disinfecting clothing, washing hands, keeping poultry away from wild birds and only allowing visitors who are “strictly necessary”.

As wild birds can spread the disease to poultry, the Government has required commercial farms and people who keep birds as pets or in their gardens to keep them indoors and to follow strict “biosecurity measures”.

According to the NHS, Bird flu is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans. Credit: PA

As a result, free range eggs are no longer available for shoppers in the UK, after a 16-week grace period for producers ended on Monday, and eggs now have to be labelled as “barn eggs”.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease including by introducing housing measures.

“However, we are still seeing a number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across Suffolk.

“Many poultry keepers in Suffolk have excellent biosecurity standards but the number of cases we are seeing suggests that not enough is being done by all bird keepers to keep bird flu out.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you must take action now to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

Bird flu can be spread by migrating wild birds.

She said keepers must continue to regularly clean and disinfect footwear and clothes before entering enclosures, stop birds mixing with any wild birds and only allow visitors that are strictly necessary.

Poultry keepers are also being told to thoroughly clean and disinfect housing on a continuous basis, and house or net all poultry and keep their food, water and bedding away from wild birds.