First bird flu outbreak this winter confirmed in Britain

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Bird flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset county, the first outbreak in Britain this winter, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed Friday.

“This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months,” said Defra, adding more cases are expected over the coming days.

The British Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for consumers.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: “While the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds. It is vital that anyone who keeps birds — whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm — is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.”

Gibbens said measures will be introduced to help manage the potential threat.

A local “avian influenza prevention zone” will be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found, which means it will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place.

Defra said there are no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions.

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