UK authorities closely monitoring bird flu outbreak

The UK government has put restrictions in place around a farm in Suffolk amid concerns over a new outbreak of bird flu.

Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of avian flu strain H5N8, which has been circulating in wild-bird populations and has caused a number of outbreaks in the UK, but it is not yet clear whether the disease is highly pathogenic— deadly to birds — or not.

The affected poultry farm, which is located near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk, England, contains around 23,000 birds, a number of which have died. A decision has been made to humanely cull the remaining birds, while an initial 10km control zone has been put in place to prevent spread of the disease.

Officials said further investigations were continuing to establish if the disease was highly pathogenic and find the possible source of the infection.

Public Health England said that the risk to public health from the virus was very low and the UK’s Food Standards Agency said it does not pose a food safety risk for consumers.

Half of the UK’s national poultry flock is freerange, by far the highest percentage of any EU member state.

The National Farmers’ Union has said a long-term order for poultry to be kept indoors would impact on consumer demand for free-range eggs, which has soared over the past 25 years. UK authorities continue to closely monitor the Suffolk farm.

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