Bird flu confirmed at site in Mid Suffolk

Broilers in a shed

Poultry keepers have been on high alert against bird flu since November of last year - Credit: PA

Birds at a site near Elmswell are set to be humanely culled following an outbreak of bird flu.

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) officials have confirmed that the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza has been confirmed at a site near Finningham, Wyverstone and Westhorpe.

The government has to date confirmed 82 cases of the H5N1 strain in England over this winter.

"Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Elmswell, Mid Suffolk, Suffolk on the 26 February 2022. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises. All birds on the infected premises will be humanely culled," DEFRA said.

It's the latest in a series of outbreaks confirmed across East Anglia over the past few months. 

There is currently a disease control zone in force around a site near Fakenham as well.

The disease has been discovered at sites including at Wells-next-the-Sea, North Fambridge near Maldon and Frinton-on-Sea in November and Great Cornard, near Sudbury, in December. Disease control zones around these sites are no longer in place.

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The last few months have been an anxious time for poultry farmers across the region as the winter wild bird migration season got under way.  They have been on high alert  - even before the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said all poultry must be housed from November 29 last year.

That meant that free-range birds had to brought indoors.

In December, UK chief vet Christin Middlemiss said the department had taken "swift action" to limit the spread of the disease including housing measures.

"However, we are seeing a growing number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country.

"Many poultry keepers have excellent biosecurity standards but the number of cases we are seeing suggests that no enough is being done to keep bird flue out.

"Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands you must take action now to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease."