Farm forced to cull 30,000 turkeys after bird flu outbreak in Norfolk

Bronze free-range turkeys
The H5N8 strain of avian influenza was discovered among the turkeys. (Getty)

Around 30,000 turkeys are being culled on a farm in Norfolk after an outbreak of bird flu, the government has said.

Documents published on the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website show that the H5N8 strain of avian influenza was discovered on a farm near the village of Snetterton.

Although the farm was unidentified in the documents, it was confirmed that 30,000 birds would have to be culled to stop the outbreak.

A DEFRA spokesperson said: "A veterinary investigation is on-going on this site to identify the likely source of infection and establish how long the disease may have been present on the infected premises.

"The strain of HPAI H5N8 which has been confirmed in several poultry premises in England appears closely related to the virus currently circulating in wild and captive birds in Europe."

The sign at Defra headquarters in Smith Square, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 18, 2013. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire   (Photo by Nick Ansell/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Defra spokesperson confirmed the outbreak. (PA)

The spokesperson added: "Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises."

Read more: Bird flu outbreaks spark order for all captive flocks to be kept indoors

It comes after more than 10,000 birds were culled on a farm in North Yorkshire after a bird flu outbreak in that county last month.

Around 500 birds also had to be culled on a Kent farm in early November and over 13,000 in Cheshire after H5N8 outbreaks just days apart.

Watch: Bird flu outbreak sweeps across Belgium

A recent spate of swan deaths across the UK are also reportedly being investigated amid concerns they could be connected to a wave of avian flu from Europe.

Bird flu can spread to humans, but only on very rare occasions, and an H5N8 case has never been recorded.

Most other strains have also never infected humans, experts say, but there are four that have caused some concern in recent years, according to the NHS.

Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Standards Agency also moved to reassure meat-eaters that avian influenzas pose a very low risk to people, and that properly cooked poultry products including eggs are safe.

Watch: China reports bird flu outbreak in Hunan province