Environment secretary George Eustice announced in parliament on Thursday that the UK has been hit particularly hard by avian influenza this year.
“Each year, the UK faces a seasonal risk in the incursion of avian influenza associated with migratory wild birds. This year we are seeing the largest-ever outbreak of avian influenza in the UK,” Eustice said.
Eustice added that the outbreak comes as a blow to the poultry industry, which is already facing inflationary cost pressures and labor shortages due to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, officials said the risk to human health is low, and there is no link to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we should not touch infected birds.
“It has huge human, animal, and trade implications,” Britain’s Chief Vet Christine Middlemiss said, adding that “the absolute key” was biosecurity.
Middlemiss said that chicken sheds should be kept “as clean as a surgical theatre”, which would reduce the chance of wild birds either directly or indirectly coming into contact with kept birds.
On Wednesday, reports confirmed that 38 premises were infected in the UK, 31 in England, three in Wales, two in Scotland, and two in Northern Ireland.
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