Bird flu restrictions lifted at Lancashire poultry farm


Restrictions have been lifted following a case of bird flu on a Lancashire poultry farm last month.

A 10 kilometre (six mile) surveillance zone and an inner three kilometre (1.8 mile) protection zone were placed around the farm in Goosnargh, near Preston, where birds were also culled.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said movement restrictions had been lifted 21 days after the completion of an initial cleaning and disinfection of the premises.

Chief vet Nigel Gibbens said: "Protecting our country from animal disease is vital for our economy.

"Our robust, swift and intensive approach to tackling this incident, and confirming the disease was contained to a single farm, means we have been able to lift these restrictions at the earliest possible point allowed by EU law.

"The UK remains at a constant low risk of an incident of avian influenza and this latest case should serve as a reminder for the poultry industry of the importance of maintaining strict biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection.

"I also urge keepers to remain vigilant for any signs of disease and report any suspicions to their vet immediately."

Tests confirmed the incident was a high severity H7N7 strain of the disease, said Defra.

The most likely source of infection was direct or indirect contact with infected wild birds, it added.

The H7N7 strain is highly pathogenic, which means it is highly contagious in flocks and can cause death in birds.

But it is not the H5N1 strain which has led to hundreds of deaths in people worldwide.

Most types of bird flu are harmless to humans but two types - H5N1 and H7N9 - have caused serious concerns.

Other bird flu strains, including H7N7, have infected people but these have been very rare or have only rarely caused severe illness, say experts.