CTSI experts are expressing serious concern about the nation’s largest outbreak of Avian Flu ever observed in the UK.
The warning comes after a large part of Essex was placed within a bird flu prevention zone from 27 September, following several additional outbreaks throughout the county since the start of 2022. Amongst those, Colchester, Maldon, Chelmsford, Rochford, Tendring, Braintree, Basildon and Castle Point were all included in the zone, along with Norfolk and Suffolk.
CTSI has been informed that the new zone introduces enhanced biosecurity measures which have to be adhered to by keepers of poultry.
Trading Standards has a vital role in the fight against Avian Influenza due to its invaluable local connections with farmers, hauliers and market staff gained through years of regular contact on the ground.
The public is advised to avoid touching infected birds, touching droppings or bedding and killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking.
CTSI Lead Officer for Animal Health and Welfare, Stephanie Young, said: “Although we are only at what would typically be considered the start of the season for Avian Influenza, we are already seeing multiple cases across the UK. There is a lot of concern of cases within backyard flocks and it is important that all owners of poultry remain vigilant for signs of the disease and follow good bio-security measures. Staffordshire just confirmed another positive case and we are in the process of setting up foot patrols. It is very resource-intensive.”
Trading Standards is collaborating with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to help contain these national outbreaks. Although Trading Standards teams conform to a national procedure, each local authority has developed a method that helps improve upon the base response for their particular region.
“It is important that any concerns over deaths or birds displaying signs of ill-health typical of that for Avian Influenza must be reported immediately. APHA officials and Trading Standards officers from across the country are working hard to monitor and control further spread of the virus in what is an unprecedented outbreak,” Young added.
In North Yorkshire, work with the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), a multi- agency forum including key emergency responders, proved helpful for joining up their response. A partnership between Lincolnshire Trading Standards and emergency services previously proved fruitful, when a fire station was set up as a forward operating base in partnership with the Fire Service. Close collaboration with the Police continues to spread the word across the region by broadcasting messages on how to stop the spread in households.
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, noted: “Avian Influenza is a seasonal risk but it is concerning to see such an unprecedented rise in cases. The adaptability, diligence and reach of our Trading Standards services places the profession in an ideal position to respond quickly; always on the frontline of protecting our communities. It is also thanks to Trading Standards’ multi-agency collaboration, we are assured of the containment of this Avian Flu’s outbreak.”