Suspected bird flu outbreak at St Peter farm

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BIRDKEEPERS are being urged to make sure poultry are kept indoors after a suspected bird flu outbreak at a farm in St Peter.

Jersey’s deputy chief veterinary officer Caroline Terburgh has written to the Island’s registered poultry keepers asking them to house their birds, if at all possible, until the results of test for avian influenza are known later this week.

Last month, birdkeepers were asked to step up measures to prevent the spread of bird flu after a dead herring gull found at Long Beach tested positive for the disease. At the time, it was the fourth case to be confirmed in Jersey this year.

Director of natural environment Willie Peggie said: ‘On examining the dead poultry, the clinical signs of the swelling of the head, blue discolouration of the comb and wattles, and the fact that the poultry appeared fine the previous day but mass mortalities were found the following morning, strongly suggests bird flu. Samples have been sent to the UK for testing, and we hope to have the results back this week.’

Ms Terburgh said: ‘While we await the findings, all poultry are required to be housed, if at all possible, as there needs to be clear separation from wild birds. There also needs to be a solid or impermeable roof overhead so that wild bird faeces cannot enter their housing or runs. Stringent biosecurity measures are required, including the use of DEFRA approved disinfectant baths for footwear at the entrance to flock units.’

Birdkeepers have been asked to prepare for mandatory housing restrictions which will be necessary if a positive result is confirmed within a domestic flock.

However, the UK Health Security Agency has said that the risk to public health is low as avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and advises that the risk to public health from bird flu is low.

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