A case of bird flu has been confirmed at a Lancashire farm, prompting a mass cull of poultry to prevent the spread of the disease.
The strain of avian flu was H7N7, with officials subsequently setting up a three-kilometer (two-mile) perimeter around the farm in Goosnargh, Preston. All birds at the unnamed farm are being “humanely killed.” Farms within a larger surveillance area of ten kilometers (six miles) are not allowed to move any poultry at the moment.
Public Health England has said that the risk to the public from the strain is very low, while the Food Standards Agency said that there was no food safety risk to consumers.
The case had been suspected last Friday, but was not confirmed until June 13. “Restrictions put in place last week will continue and the humane culling of all birds at the site is progressing,” Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said in a statement. “These actions are part of our tried and tested approach to dealing with previous outbreaks.”
He added: “Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspect disease to their nearest APHA [Animal and Plant and Health Agency] office immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.”
This particular strain, H7N7, can infect people and is highly contagious in flocks of birds. However, it is not as dangerous as the H5N1 strain, which has caused hundreds of deaths in humans. The chance of H7N7 causing severe or fatal illness in humans is very small.
The Food Standards Agency noted that the risk of getting bird flu through the food chain is “very low.” It adds: “Some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans, but this is very rare. It usually requires close contact between the human and infected live birds. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.”
Recent outbreaks, including one in Hampshire in February and another in Yorkshire last year, have quickly been contained.