Bird flu alert for Shropshire and Mid Wales as case confirmed nearby

Poultry and bird owners across the region are being urged to remain on alert after an outbreak of “highly pathogenic” bird flu was confirmed in North Wales.

There are now fears the virus could spread and affect chickens and other wild and domestic fowl in Mid Wales and Shropshire. Some experts say it could already be in the region.

NHS Choices say no humans have been infected with bird flu in the UK, although plans are in place to manage any suspected cases.

It has been confirmed a wild duck has died from avian flu at an RSPB reserve in Conwy.

The H5N8 strain of the infection was detected on December 28 and also confirmed in a back-yard flock of chickens and ducks in the Pontyberem area of Carmarthenshire, South Wales, on January 3, after the birds were culled.

It was the same strain of the virus found in an infected wild duck in Llanelli and turkeys in Lincolnshire.

And around 80 wild swans have died at the historic Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, with nine having confirmed cases of H5N8.

Chief veterinary officer Professor Christianne Glossop said: “It is extremely important bird keepers practice the very highest levels of biosecurity.

“Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds.

“The movement of poultry should be minimised and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected.”

Prof Glossop said it was quite a virulent stain of the virus and urged bird owners to get veterinary advice if they saw symptoms such as their birds appearing unwell, not laying eggs, not eating, sneezing or swelling.

Scientists stress the disease does not represent a food safety risk to the public if the eggs and meat are cooked thoroughly.

The Government’s Prevention Zone has been extended until February 28.

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