Bird flu cases a body blow as Christmas looms
- Credit: Stuart Anderson
Norfolk's poultry industry has been hit by two crushing blows in the crucial countdown to Christmas as a pair of turkey farms were confirmed to have bird flu.
Up to 55,000 turkeys will be humanely culled across the two sites, one near King's Lynn and the other near Attleborough.
Late on Friday, an outbreak of the highly-pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza was confirmed in rearing turkeys at an unidentified farm close to Snetterton.
Yesterday, a similar outbreak was revealed at a farm in East Winch, near King's Lynn. The cases are not believed to be linked.
Over the next couple of days, 25,000 and 30,000 turkeys will be culled at each location.
NFU Norfolk county adviser John Newton said: “These outbreaks are extremely worrying news for poultry farmers during a crucial stage in the run-up to Christmas.
“East Anglia is a hugely important region for poultry farming. We would urge all poultry keepers, including members of the public with pet birds, a backyard flock or smallholding, to continue practicing mandatory, enhanced biosecurity measures at all times and prepare for the introduction of housing measures on 14 December.
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“It’s crucial everyone remains vigilant and reports any signs of disease in their birds to their vet at the earliest opportunity. The risk to public health from this virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has also made it clear that it does not pose a food safety risk."
Public health officials were at both farms over the weekend, A Winch Farm there was evidence of vehicles being sprayed as they entered.
A Defra spokesman said veterinary investigations were on-going to identify the likely source of infection and establish how long the disease may have been present on the infected premises.
A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around both sites to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
There have been a growing number of bird flu cases across the country this year, but this is the first time the "highly pathogenic" strain has been confirmed in Norfolk since 2017.