Chickens and turkeys in lockdown in the UK, alarm for the boom in bird flu cases

Chickens and turkeys in lockdown in the UK, alarm for the boom in bird flu cases

In the United Kingdom, farmers’ fears are growing over the spread of avian flu in chicken coops, where hundreds of infections have been recorded in the last year. The British authorities have ordered the birds to be kept in cages from November 7th.

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“All poultry and captive birds in the UK will have to remain strictly caged from 7 November.” They communicated it through a joint note on Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) andAnimal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) of the country.

The confinement measure for chickens and backyard birds was introduced by the London government following the massive spread of bird flu in His Majesty’s reign, the largest ever recorded in the history of the country: beyond 200 confirmed cases from the end of October 2021 to todayof which 30 at the beginning of October 2022 alone. At the moment, the British authorities classify the risk of infection from wild birds as “extremely high”.

“We are seeing a rapid escalation in the number of cases in backyard birds and commercial farms across England,” he said. Christine Middlemisshead of the UK government’s veterinary authority – the risk that caged birds could be exposed to disease has reached a level that justifies the government’s measure until further notice.”

Particularly affected by the epidemic were the eastern regions of England. Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex above all: there were 14 outbreaks recorded on farms in the last month alone in this part of the country.

Consumer food safety: risk is low

Based on the recent measures approved by Downing Street as early as 17 October, with the establishment of the “Avian Influenza Prevention Zone” (AIPZ), breeders in the Kingdom who own more than 500 birds are obliged to limit entries in their activities only to company personnel. Furthermore, the rules require changing clothing before entering the pens and providing for regular cleaning and disinfection of the breeding areas.

“Right now the situation is terrifying. Our whole business depends on the Christmas markets. If we were to be hit by the virus we would lose everything – farmer Tom Copas, who has hosted around 60,000 birds on his farm, told the BBC – I know two seasonal producers who have had outbreaks on their farms and have lost about half of their turkeys.”

However, the UK’s Health Security Agency has warned citizens that the risk of contagion to public health remains “very low”. The same applies to the food safety of consumers of poultry products (when cooked correctly), including eggs.

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The emergency in Europe: record cases, Italy in second place for the number of infections

The spread of bird flu it doesn’t just concern the UK, but all of Europe. At the beginning of October theEuropean Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have communicated the numbers (updated to 3 October 2022) of what was “the largest avian flu epidemic ever seen in the Old Continent”, with almost 2,500 outbreaks, 47.5 million birds culled on farms and more 3,500 cases among wild specimens recorded from October 2021 to today.

L’Italy it is currently the second country for the number of outbreaks in farms (317) after France (1,383). Just beyond the Alps, one of the most dramatic effects of the epidemic was witnessed: ldeath of more than 1,200 seabirds belonging to protected species. This was announced at the beginning of September by the French Regional Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Forestry (DRAAF).

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