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Precautionary measures in place following Avian Influenza case in North Fambridge

Published on Monday, 22nd November 2021

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An isolated outbreak of Avian Influenza (otherwise known as Bird Flu) has been confirmed at a premise in North Fambridge, Maldon. The outbreak is in birds and there are no cases in people.

This is the second outbreak of Avian Influenza in Essex in the past two weeks, however there is no evidence to suggest that that the two outbreaks are linked.

The response is being led by Essex County Council, Maldon District Council, Chelmsford City Council, Rochford District Council and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Health officials have visited the site and taken several actions including testing and cleansing.

Avian Influenza is a disease which mainly affects birds, but on rare occasions, it can affect mammals including humans. Consequently, a number of precautionary measures are being put in place.

Officers will be visiting 965 houses and commercial properties within a 3km zone detailing actions that need to be undertaken and who to contact in the event of a suspected case.  Residents are required to notify Essex County Council of any poultry on their premises and to avoid moving poultry in and out of the 3km zone.  Road signage will be erected on roads entering or leaving the 3km zone.

Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However, anyone who is concerned should call NHS 111 or speak to their GP. People in direct contact with the affected birds have been contacted and offered appropriate preventative treatment.

Pet owners with other animals do not usually need to take other action. If a person has concerns regarding their pet, they should contact their private veterinary surgeon.

The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council’s Cabinet member for Adults and 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, Maldon District Council, Rochford District Council and Chelmsford City Council this is what we have done.

"We will be visiting premises around the site of the outbreak, and offering information and advice, over the coming days.”

Maldon District Council’s Leader Designate, Cllr Richard Siddall, said  “As the local council, we are ready to help our colleagues at Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Essex County Council in any way we can, and particularly with activity to make local people aware of this outbreak.

“The important thing is for people to react sensibly, understand there is minimal risk to human health, and if you keep birds then to follow the measures set out by the authorities”.

Dr David Edwards, Public Health England’s Regional Deputy Director (Acting), UK Health Security Agency East, said: “Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. We are working closely with Defra to monitor the situation and have provided the necessary health advice to anyone on site as a precaution.

“We know the importance of washing hands when it comes to COVID and the same applies here – try not to touch any sick or dead birds and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after contact with any animal.”

ENDS

Notes to editor:

1. For more information on Avian Influenza visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

2. Advice for pet owners

Bird Flu is a disease that mainly affects birds, not humans. Following these simple steps in the event of a bird flu outbreak there is no reason to stop keeping pet birds:

  • Avoid contact between your pet birds and wild birds
  • Always clean up after dealing with your birds, especially wash your hands
  • Do not bring wild bird droppings into your home through dirty clothes and shoes

Cats and other animals:

It is rare for cats to be infected with the bird flu virus.

In the event of an outbreak of bird flu, pet owners in the immediate area might be asked to walk their dogs on a lead and keep their cats indoors. This would be in the interests of your pet’s health and is a precautionary measure only.

If you are concerned about the health of your pet please seek advice from your vet.

3.  If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

For Essex County Council media enquiries:

Press Office at press.desk@essex.gov.uk

Out of Hours: 07717 867525