Roundup: Britain issues nationwide ban on bird shows following avian flu outbreak

A nationwide ban on bird shows was announced Tuesday by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) following an outbreak of avian flu in a flock of turkeys.

The temporary ban, aimed at reducing the spread of the disease, will apply to other events across England, Scotland and Wales, following a case of highly pathogenic avian flue of the H5N8 strain at a farm in Lincolnshire.

The ban will apply to gatherings of birds at higher risk of avian flu, including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as livestock fairs, auctions and bird shows.

Since the disease was declared on Dec. 16 by Defra, it has been confirmed all 2,500 birds at the farm in Lincolnshire have been culled. There have been no subsequent cases reported, though restrictions around the site remain in place.

The ban is part of government measures to tackle the disease and reduce the risk of the virus spreading. It includes a requirement to keep all poultry and captive birds housed or otherwise separated from contact with wild birds and advice urging farmers and poultry keepers to ensure strict bio-security standards.

A spokesman for Defra said: "The ban on gatherings does not apply to pigeons or aviary birds which are at much lower risk of passing the disease to domestic poultry. It will be kept under review and may be lifted or amended if the risk level changes."

Public Health England said the risk to public health from the virus is very low, while Britain's Food Standards Agency said bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for British consumers.

With an estimated 10 million turkeys due to be eaten in Britain over the Christmas holiday, the Defra spokesman added: "There is not anticipated to be any impact on the supplies of turkeys or other birds over Christmas."

Defra's chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: "This ban on gatherings is a proportionate step that will help protect our farmers and bird keepers from seeing their flocks infected with this disease that can have a devastating impact on poultry."

"The risk to human health continues to be very low and there is no impact on the food chain, but infection at a gathering could lead to rapid dispersal of infection to kept birds in many locations," he added.

A three km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone remain in place around the infected farm in Lincolnshire to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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