Biosecurity and vigilance key to combat disease threats
Scottish poultry keepers are on alert following a suspected low pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak on a Fife poultry unit.
Following similar outbreaks in Europe and the UK in recent times, Scottish poultry keepers will be well aware of the biosecurity measures they need to maintain and for greater disease vigilance to be put in place.
Birds on the affected farm are to be humanely culled, a 1km Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) are in place around the farm and within this zone a range of different controls are in place which include restrictions of the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure and restrictions on bird gatherings.
Statements from Scottish Government, Food Standards Scotland and Health Protection Scotland have helpfully reminded the Scottish public that the risk to human health from this strain of avian influenza is considered negligible and that it does not pose a food safety risk for consumers.
However, the implications for commercial poultry flocks are significant and the Union is reminding all poultry keepers – large and small, including backyard keepers – to monitor the health of their birds and, as Avian Influenza is notifiable, report any suspicious deaths.
NFU Scotland’s Vice President Andrew McCornick said: “Given the number of cases of low pathogenic Avian Influenza seen across Europe and in the UK, often linked to migratory birds and wildfowl, this is a worrying but not unexpected outbreak.
“It is welcome that, at the earliest opportunity, experts have reminded the public that the implications for human health and food safety are very low. This is an animal health matter and one that all stakeholders are taking very seriously.
“With the industry’s well-rehearsed contingency plans now coming into force, the hope is that this outbreak is quickly contained and the threat to other commercial poultry flocks is eliminated.
“Biosecurity on all poultry units must be maintained and, given the number of low pathogenic Avian Influenza cases being recorded across Europe, it is likely that those high standards are already commonplace. High health is something that Scottish poultry producers have always taken great pride in.
“However, it is worth reminding all poultry keepers – large and small – of the need for vigilance. Given the growing number of people keeping backyard hens, it is worth restating that Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease and that all poultry keepers have an obligation to notify the authorities if they suspect disease.
“Backyard hens can often be at higher risk because of their closer contact with wild birds.”

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