Thursday 29 September 2022 01:11 PM UK's biggest ever bird flu outbreaks leaves farmers 'terrified' trends now

Thursday 29 September 2022 01:11 PM UK's biggest ever bird flu outbreaks leaves farmers 'terrified' trends now
Thursday 29 September 2022 01:11 PM UK's biggest ever bird flu outbreaks leaves farmers 'terrified' trends now

Thursday 29 September 2022 01:11 PM UK's biggest ever bird flu outbreaks leaves farmers 'terrified' trends now

Traditional Christmas dinners could be at risk as bird flu rips through poultry farms in England and Wales, farmers have warned.

Britain is currently grappling with its biggest ever outbreak of avian influenza, with over 3million birds like chickens, turkeys and ducks culled to halt the spread of the highly infectious disease. 

Devon, Cornwall, Suffolk, Norfolk, as well as parts of of Somerset and Essex, have been declared avian influenza prevention zones meaning strict biosecurity measure have been imposed on all bird keepers. 

This includes housing and isolating birds away from wild populations and restricting access to farms by visitors.

Stricter curbs could be on the way, with warnings of another uptick in cases when flocks of migratory birds arrive in the UK with one farmer confessing they were 'terrified' of the weeks ahead. 

Another said many Christmas dinners 'have already gone' following turkey culls after birds were infected with the virus despite already being held in enclosed buildings. 

Almost 65,000 turkeys were culled at farm in Attleborough in Norfolk by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in recent days, according to Farming UK.

Britain's turkeys were sent into a full-blown lockdown last winter to control the spread.

This map shows the parts England currently under extra biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of bird flu

This map shows the parts England currently under extra biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of bird flu 

BIRD FLU: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

What is it? Bird flu is the source of all human flus, as far as we know.

It often passes through another animal, such as a pig, in the process of mutating and adapting to infect us.

Wild birds are carriers, especially through migration.

As they cluster together to breed, the virus spreads rapidly and is then carried to other parts of the globe.

New strains tend to appear first in Asia, from where more than 60 species of shore birds, waders and waterfowl, including plovers, godwits and ducks, head off to Alaska to breed and mix with various migratory birds from the Americas. Others go west and infect European species. 

What strain is currently spreading? H5N1. 

So far the new virus has been detected in more than 22million birds and poultry globally since September 2021 — double the previous record the year before. 

Not only is the virus spreading at speed, it is also killing at an unprecedented level, leaving some experts to say this is the deadliest variant so far.

Millions of chickens in the UK have been culled and last November our poultry industry was put into lockdown, heavily affecting the availability of free-range eggs.

Can it infect people? Yes, but just 860 people have been infected with H5N1 globally since 2003 from 18 countries.

The risk to people has been deemed 'low'.

But people are strongly urged not to touch sick or dead birds because the virus is lethal, killing 53 per cent of people it does manage to infect. 

Should I be concerned? Not particularly.

Poultry farmers and people who handle wild birds are most at risk.

Scientists say there is a tiny chance a double infection of avian and seasonal flu could allow the current bird flu strain to adapt to be

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