'Highly pathogenic' bird flu detected in Skelmersdale

The strain of flu was found in two captive peregrine falcons Credit: Liverpool Echo

A "highly pathogenic" strain of bird flu has been found in two captive birds of prey at a private property in West Lancashire.The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced that avian influenza had been confirmed in two peregrine falcons at a residential premises in Skelmersdale after testing on March 31.DEFRA confirmed the disease to be "Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N8)".The disease has been causing concern in the poultry industry after DEFRA imposed a housing order for poultry and captive birds in December following several cases.

The notice about the new bird flu outbreak on the GOV.UK website Credit: GOV.UK

The order required farmers and breeders to keep their poultry under cover and away from places where they may share food and water with wild birds.The measures expired on March 31, although "enhanced biosecurity" remains in place.However, in the past few days, cases of the H5N8 strain were detected in broiler chickens in Uttoexter, Staffordshire, with a less pathogenic strain H5N3 being detected at a turkey farm in Winsford, Cheshire.

No evidence of transmission from bird to humans - WHO Credit: PA Pictures

H5N8 has been described as a "particularly nasty" strain of avian flu which can be deadly in birds.The H5N8 strain has been known to jump from infected birds to humans, as happened in Russia in February to workers at a poultry plant, all of who recovered.However, there has been no evidence so far of human to human transmission, according to the World Health Organisation.