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Bird flu reaches region

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By Newsdesk
Farming
Bird flu reaches region

POULTRY farmers across the region have been instructed to house their birds from Monday in a bid to stave a wave of avian flu.

The public has already been warned not to go near wild birds after the flu was confirmed on the Solway.

Health officials say the risk to public health from the flu is “very low”.

The new guidance on housing comes from the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers. They agreed to bring in the measures to protect poultry and captive birds.

The owner of PS Poultry in Waterbeck, Shona Arthur, said the housing order “is necessary to help prevent and eradicate the spread of avian flu”.

The order is also designed to stop wild birds landing and mixing with poultry.

Mrs Arthur added: “It is very important that everyone with poultry whether they have five or 50,000 adheres to the housing order.

“It is a good idea to increase the enrichment in the houses and include items such as pecking blocks, alfalfa bales and oyster shell grit in scratching areas.

In a joint statement, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease.

“We have not taken this decision lightly. Taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

Meanwhile, one local shooter contacted this newspaper anonymously yesterday to say he was aware of infected Barnacle geese on the Solway, near the English border.

He said they were being eaten by peregrine falcons that subsequently died.

He added he had seen about 10 or 12 dead wild birds he believed were infected with the H5N1 virus.

Fellow shooters reported as many as 40 along the Solway Coast from Caerlaverock to Southerness.

The man also raised concerns about a parasite, known as rice breast, infecting ducks locally, which The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said appeared to be on the increase in the UK.

Meanwhile, the team at the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve reported finding “lots of dead birds”, mainly barnacle geese and whooper swans, in the area around the Solway.

They said: “Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people, so do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.”

Anyone finding sick or dead birds is urged to report them to Defra by phoning 03459 335577, option 7.

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