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17/11/14 18:07

Avian influenza vigilance urged

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary comments after English case confirmed.

Scottish poultry producers are being urged to stay vigilant following the outbreak of avian influenza in England.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has commented following the confirmation of a case of avian influenza on a duck breeding farm in East Yorkshire.

He said:

“The Scottish Government is closely monitoring the case of avian influenza on a duck breeding farm in East Yorkshire, and I note the immediate and robust response by the authorities in England to prevent any potential spread of infection.

“My officials have been liaising closely with Defra who have made it clear the public health risk is very low - and that they have ruled out the H5N1 strain that is infectious for humans. Furthermore, the latest Food Standards Agency advice is that avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Although avian influenza has been confirmed in England only, I urge Scottish poultry producers to stay vigilant for any signs of disease – and my officials have this afternoon updated industry representatives and other key stakeholders with the latest information and veterinary advice.

“The Scottish Government is continuing to work closely with our counterparts and delivery partners across the UK and we stand ready to take appropriate action as required.”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Sheila Voas, said:

“As always, all poultry keepers should continue their efforts to maintain high levels of biosecurity and monitor their birds for any signs of disease. Avian influenza is a notifiable disease, and so any suspicion should be reported immediately to the nearest Animal Health office.

“As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are undertaken in incidents where five birds are found dead in the same location and at the same time. Members of the public are asked to report any such incidents by calling the Defra national helpline on 08459 33 55 77. Scottish Government advice is not to handle dead wild birds where possible.”

Notes to editors

Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Animal Plant & Health Agency (formerly AHVLA) office. Contact details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency/about/access-and-opening#scotland

More information about Avian Influenza – including biosecurity guidance – is available from the Scottish Government website http://www.scotland.gov.uk/avianinfluenza

As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are undertaken in incidents where five birds are found dead in the same location and at the same time. In Great Britain, members of the public are asked to report these incidents to Defra’s national helpline (Tel: 08459 33 55 77, Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm).