Three outbreaks of bird flu confirmed in the South West

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely culled. Credit: PA Images

A new outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed in Devon.

Highly-pathogenic bird flu was found at a premises near Tedburn St Mary on Wednesday 13 April, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely culled.

Defra also said that a 3km (1.8m) protection zone and a 10km (6.2m) surveillance zone has been put in place around the premises.

This is the second case of bird flu confirmed in Devon. The first was confirmed at a site near Newton St Cyres on 6 April.

A further case in the South West has been confirmed in Ilminster in Somerset.

It comes as the UK is experiencing its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu. There are 95 recorded cases in England alone.

As a result, free-range eggs can no longer be bought in supermarkets, as hens are being held in lockdown amid the outbreak.

Elsewhere in the South West, a number of herring gulls were found dead on beaches in Cornwall in February and then tested positive for bird flu.

They were the first confirmed cases of the disease ever to be recorded in Cornwall Wildlife Trust's marine strandings database.

There are currently 95 cases of bird flu in England. Credit: PA

In January, a person in the South West contracted a strain of bird flu - the first recorded human to get the virus in the UK.

This person got the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time.

What is bird flu and how does it spread?

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is a type of influenza which spreads among birds. The UK has recently seen a large number of outbreaks and incidents of avian influenza in birds across the country of the H5N1 strain and Animal and Plant health Agency (APHA) and the UK’s chief veterinary officer have issued alerts to bird owners. 

Some strains of bird flu can pass from birds to people, but this is extremely rare. It usually requires close contact with an infected bird, so the risk to humans is generally considered very low. Human-to-human transmission of bird flu is very rare.

The case was detected after APHA identified an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian flu in the infected person's flock of birds.

UK Health Security Agency (HSA) swabbed the person and detected low levels of flu. Further laboratory analysis revealed the virus was the ‘H5’ type, found in birds. At this point it has not been possible to confirm this is a H5N1 infection (the strain which is circulating in birds in the UK).

The World Health Organisation has been notified and the infected birds have all been culled.