Seventeen wild birds confirmed with bird flu in Dorset

Seventeen wild birds have been found in an area west of Weymouth with a virus closely related to the H5N6 strain.

Public Health England said the risk to the public is very low.

Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease. Defra, via the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), has confirmed High Path Avian Influenza in Abbotsbury, Dorset. The strain, however, is the European strain, as opposed to the Asian strain, which is not associated with humans.

Tests have found the infected birds are carrying a form of the disease closely related to the H5N6 strain that has infected birds across Europe, however it is a different strain to the one which infected people in China a year ago.

The risk of bird flu to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency said it did not pose a risk to United Kingdom consumers. In 2008, Defra put in place a wild bird prevention zone because that was H5N1. In terms of a risk assessment, poultry farms in the local area are at slightly increased risk.

Poultry farmers in the South Dorset area of the United Kingdom have been put on high alert for bird flu.

He said an "avian influenza prevention zone" would be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found. What to do if you keep poultryIf you keep poultry - whether that's a few birds in your garden or a large commercial flock - you should take steps now to review your biosecurity, register your birds with APHA, sign up for disease alerts and report any sick birds.

Different strains of bird flu can spread to people when they have direct contact with the infection.

This means it will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place such as feeding and watering birds indoors - to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures.

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