Bird flu: EU announces emergency measures to contain outbreak in the UK and the Netherlands

The outbreak has hit farmers amid the busy Christmas season

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The Independent Online

The European Commission has introduced emergency measures to contain outbreaks of bird flu in the UK and the Netherlands.

The announcement comes after a private vet in Nafferton, near Driffield, East Yorkshire, raised the alarm over a duck believed to have avian flu at a farm on Friday – a suspicion that was later confirmed by Government tests.

Meanwhile, Dutch authorities first reported the outbreak of bird flu at a chicken farm in the central province of Utrecht, and H5N8 bird flu was confirmed yesterday.

The transport of poultry and eggs throughout the Netherlands is now banned, and officials believe that the disease may have spread to the UK via Dutch or German links.

A 10km (six-mile) restriction zone has also been established around the Yorkshire farm, and all poultry on the farm is being culled to prevent the disease from spreading.

But the public have been told not to panic, as although this is the first serious case of bird flu since 2008, the outbreak does not involve H5N1 - which can be fatal to humans.

 

In a statement released this evening, a European Commission spokesman said the measures aimed at “quickly bringing the disease under control” and preventing the spread of the “highly pathogenic” avian flu within Britain and the Netherlands, as well as to other countries.

He added the measures were designed to minimise the disturbance to trade, as the busy Christmas season approaches.

"The measures include the culling of the poultry on the affected holding, the establishment of protection and surveillance zones, the introduction of sanitary measures (cleaning and disinfection), the prohibition of movements to sell live poultry, eggs, poultry meat and other poultry products to other EU countries and non-EU countries and the culling of affected flocks only in the restricted zones,” he explained.

"The Commission is also informing other EU member states and non-EU countries, as well as international organisations, about the disease situation and on the measures taken,” he added.

In a Parliamentary address, Environment Secretary Liz Truss stressed that the chief medical officer and Public Health England had confirmed the risk to public health of the virus was very low. She added that the Food Standards Agency has said that the British public are not at risk, and chicken and turkey are safe to eat.

“We have taken immediate and robust action to control this outbreak and prevent any potential spread of infection,” Ms Truss said.

Additional reporting by PA

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