More than 40,000 chickens to be culled at Fife bird flu farm

A mild strain of the H5N1 avian flu was discovered at Craigies Poultry Farm near Dunfermline.

Cull: Around 40,000 chickens will be humanely killed.
Cull: Around 40,000 chickens will be humanely killed. STV

More than 40,000 chickens are to be humanely killed at a poultry farm in Fife after the Scottish Government confirmed a strain of bird flu has been found there.

A 1km protection zone remains in place around Craigies Poultry Farm in Dunfermline.

The "mild strain" of H5N1 avian influenza was identified among chickens and further tests are being carried out.

The birds are to be culled on Tuesday and Wednesday and poultry producers have been urged to be vigilant, however, Scotland's chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas said the strain is less serious than other forms of the virus that have caused concern in recent years.

The risk to human health in this case is considered "very low", according to Health Protection Scotland.

Restrictions in the Fife control zone have been imposed, including on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure and restrictions on bird gatherings.

The discovery comes after a number of cases of avian influenza across Europe in recent months.

Three cases were found in the UK last year.

Control zone: A 1km restriction is in place around the farm.
Control zone: A 1km restriction is in place around the farm. STV

Ms Voas said: "All the evidence so far suggests we are dealing with a very mild form of H5N1 avian influenza, which is not the same as the strain that has been causing problems in Asia and north Africa. Further tests are currently being carried out to confirm this but, in the meantime, we are taking no chances.

"As a precaution to prevent the spread of disease, and in line with our robust procedures for dealing with avian flu, we have already put in place movement restrictions around the farm and all birds on the premises will be humanely culled.

"Consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry given the expert advice about food safety and human health.

"We are looking into possible sources of this infection in Scotland but it is normal for such viruses to circulate among wild bird populations, especially waterfowl. However, it is important that poultry keepers remain vigilant for any signs of disease and to ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises."

Rita Botto, head veterinarian of Food Standards Scotland, said: "On the basis of current scientific evidence, Food Standards Scotland's advice is that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers."

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