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Precautionary measures in place following isolated Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) case in Tolleshunt Major

Published on Thursday, 8th September 2022

Bird flu

An isolated outbreak of Avian Influenza (otherwise known as Bird Flu) has been confirmed at a premises just outside Tolleshunt Major. The outbreak is in kept birds and there are no cases in people.

This is the third outbreak of Avian Influenza in Essex in the past year, however there is no evidence to suggest that any of the outbreaks are linked.

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

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 around 1,200 houses and commercial properties within a 3km Protection Zone to identify any poultry keepers. They will also explain the actions that need to be undertaken (including a requirement to house or keep poultry isolated) and advise who to contact in the event of a suspected case.

Road signage will be erected on main roads entering or leaving the 3km Protection 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 Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care 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 and Maldon District Council this is what we have done.

“We will be visiting around 1,200 premises around the site of the outbreak, and offering information and advice, over the coming days.”

Cllr Penny Channer, Leader of Maldon District Council, 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, Consultant in Health Protection at 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 APHA and DEFRA to monitor the situation and have provided the necessary public health advice to anyone on site as a precaution.

“Try not to touch any sick or dead birds and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after contact with any animal.”

1. For more information on Avian Influenza visit:

2. There are some simple measures that all poultry keepers should take, whether or not they are in a Protection or Surveillance Zone, to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu. These apply to people running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in their back garden and those rearing game birds.

These include:

  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

3. 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.

4. 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.