LANCASHIRE residents are being reassured the risk to public health from avian influenza remains very low, as further action is taken to contain the spread of the virus.
An avian influenza outbreak can occur at any point in the year. However, the UK typically faces a seasonal increase in the risk of an avian influenza associated with the winter migration patterns of wild birds to the UK. These migratory birds may be infected with avian influenza and can go on to infect local wild bird populations or poultry and other captive birds.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have confirmed that a strain of avian influenza had been found in the wild bird populations in Lancashire.
Since then, cases have been confirmed at a commercial poultry premises near Salwick and in a small mixed flock of poultry near Kirkham. The regional UKHSA Health Protection Teams are working closely with Defra to monitor the situation and will be providing health advice to persons at the infected premises as a precaution.
If members of the public come across any sick or dead birds it is important that they do not pick them up.
Dead wild birds should be reported to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) may then collect some of these birds and test them for the presence of avian influenza to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird, not all birds will be collected. Further information can be found in Defra’s advice to the public available on GOV.UK
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: "There is no need to be alarmed by the developments over the last few days.
“The risk to public health from the virus is very low, however it is important that people don’t pick up sick or dead birds as this can spread the virus.
"If you do find any dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds while out and about, please report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
"I would also urge bird keepers to be vigilant for any signs of disease. Avian influenza is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.”
Avian influenza has been confirmed in birds at two premises in Lancashire, one near Salwick and one near Kirkham. A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone has been in place around each of these premises. Keepers can check where disease control zones are located and if they are in zone on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) interactive map.
Further information on these cases and details of the measures that apply in the disease control zones surrounding the premises can be found on GOV.UK