Second case of bird flu found in Essex

Turkeys are a common sight in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and they're not just for christmas

Two premises in Essex have now suffered outbreaks of avian influenza - Credit: Melanie Brighton

A second outbreak of bird flu has been found in Essex - about 35 miles from the first case identified.

Government officials said avian influenza had been confirmed in birds at premises near North Fambridge, Maldon.

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain.

"Three km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises."

The first case was found at an animal sanctuary at Kirby Cross, with the outbreak exclusively in birds, with no human infections yet reported.

People in contact with the animal sanctuary have been offered suitable preventative treatment. 

Nationally, the Government has announced four outbreaks - the other two are  in premises near Silecroft, Cumbria, where a Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have been set up, and near Mouldsworth, Cheshire, where further testing is underway.

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An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across Great Britain with gatherings of poultry and other birds currently not permitted.

The Kirby Cross outbreak response is being led by Essex County Council, Tendring District Council, the Department for Environment and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. 

Avian influenza is a disease which mainly affects birds, but in rare cases can also infect mammals, including humans. However, Essex County Council has reassured the public that the risk posed to their health is very small. 

Chickens are vulnerable to bird flu, which is in Essex

People have been asked to not move poultry in or out of a 3km wide area around Kirby Cross - Credit: Timothy Bradford

A precautionary letter has been sent to homes and businesses within three kilometres, approximately 19,000 properties, detailing actions to be undertaken, and who to report suspected cases to. 

Residents will need to report any poultry they have on the property to Essex County Council, and avoid moving any poultry in or out of the affected 3km zone. 

In addition, anyone who keeps pet birds is being advised to keep contact between them and wild birds to a minimum, to avoid any wild bird droppings getting into the home, and to wash hands after any contact with them. 

Cat and dog owners in the immediate 3km area have been advised to keep cats indoors, and dogs on leads. 

A duck and a chicken, in Suffolk

Pet owners have been advised to wash their hands after contact with their birds. - Credit: Tim Bradford

John Spence, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for health, said: “It is important to reassure people that the risk of anyone becoming infected as a result of an outbreak like this is extremely low.

“Nevertheless, it is important that we put the correct precautions in place and working with Defra and Tendring District Council this is what we have done.

“Officers from the Animal and Plant Health Agency will be visiting commercial premises within the 3km zone around the site of the outbreak, and we will be writing to some 19,000 homes, offering information and advice, over the coming days.”

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