Poultry cull after bird flu outbreak

Picture shows a farm in Goosnargh, Lancashire, cordoned off after a case of bird flu was confirmed at the site.'Ian Hinchliffe / Rossparry.co.uk
Picture shows a farm in Goosnargh, Lancashire, cordoned off after a case of bird flu was confirmed at the site.'Ian Hinchliffe / Rossparry.co.uk

Farmers in Ribble Valley and Wyre are on guard for bird flu after a case was confirmed in Goosnargh.

A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone were set up round the village, with restrictions on bird and animal movement, following the discovery of the H7N7 flu strain at major supplier Staveley’s Eggs of Field Foot Farm, Goosnargh.

Culling of up to 170,000 birds was continuing yesterday at the Eaves Green Lane property, with bio security and other precautionary measures imposed.

DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)had first revealed a suspected case last Friday.

It meant the bird section at the Goosnargh and Longridge Show had to be abandoned at short notice Investigations are continuing into the cause of the avian flu outbreak in Goosnargh, which has led to an extensive disease control operation and the culling of up to 170,000 birds.

The strain of flu identified swiftly kills poultry, but is deemed a low risk to human health.

The farm affected on Eaves Green Lane, Goosnargh, near Preston, is now at the centre of a 10km surveillance zone and an inner 3 km protection zone. The 10Km zone stretches from Calder Vale in the north to Higher Walton south of Preston, taking in Myerscough and Bilsborrow, Inglewhite, Claughton, Chipping, Knowle Green, Grimsargh, Fulwood and other local areas. (See map)

Staveley’s, a major producer of free range and colony cage eggs, was founded in 1970 by Ken and Mary Staveley and describes itself as “an influential player in the UK egg industry”. Its HQ is at Coppull Moor Farm on Preston Road, Coppull, Chorley. Noone from Staveley’s was available for comment.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said the restrictions and culling were “part of our tried and tested approach to dealing with previous outbreaks” adding: “Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health from this strain is very low. The Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers.”

This weekend’s Great Eccleston Show will still feature bird sections. The decision to go ahead was taken on Monday night and Show Secretary Mrs Sheila Robinson said: “We’re going to go ahead because people outside the area would like to come - the poultry, pigeon and budgerigar sections are all going ahead, but in the 10Km zone they can’t come of course.”

She added: “We’re looking forward to a very full show. We do get local entries - of course we’ll miss them and just hope they are all back next year and more besides.”

Meanwhile the Garstang Show team is also hoping to go ahead with its bird sections, with exhibitors from the 10Km zone again unable to take part. The 200th Garstang Show takes place on August 1 and Show Secretary Melissa Wood advised: “Things could change at any point. As far as we’re concerned at the moment things are still going ahead. We really feel for those who are in the exclusion zone but these things happen - for our 200th show it’s a real shame because obviously poultry, pigeons and budgerigars are such a big part of our show.”

Local vet and poultry expert Alan Pearson said: “I think the most important thing is that DEFRA and Public Health England have said at this stage there is no risk to consumers and that any poultry product will be safe at the point of sale. Nationally Lancashire has always been a heavily populated poultry area and remains so ... The modern day poultry farms tend to be larger than 20 or 30 years ago. So the unit at the centre of this outbreak is a sizeable laying unit.”

He said the disease was not necessarly an airbourne virus;”It needs to be carried so it’s not going to be coughs and sneezes and it’s not getting wafted across the whole of Lancashire in the air. It’s much more it’s going to be carried by something or somebody or on something or somebody. It needs a physical carriage to move from place to place.”

He stressed that even owners of “backyard” poultry flocks are advised to keep them indoors or net them and keep them away from wild birds.

The Zone Restrictions

In the 3KM protection zone around the farm: poultry and captive birds must be housed or kept isolated from other birds. Poultry, captive birds and animals cannot be moved except under licence, Bird gatherings are banned, game birds cannot be released and poultry meat, eggs, carcasses and waste cannot be moved except under licence. Biosecurity measures and record keeping are required for all poultry and captive bird premises. The protection zone will be in place for at least 21 days following completion of preliminary cleansing and disinfection of the infected premises.

In the 10 km surveillance zone: poultry and other captive birds cannot be moved in the zone to premises where other poultry, captive birds and mammals are kept, except under licence. Bird gatherings are banned, game birds cannot be released

Some movements of poultry meat and eggs are allowed under specific conditions e.g. table eggs can be moved direct to wholesale or retail premises. Biosecurity measures and record keeping are required for all poultry and captive bird premises.

These restrictions will be in place for at least 30 days following preliminary cleansing and disinfection of the infected farm.

Licenses are available from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

*Preston Council warned there may be some disruptions to the collection of refuse and recycling from properties within the 3Km zone.

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