UK faces its largest ever outbreak of avian flu raising a 'massive' concern for the industry | Totally Vegan Buzz

UK faces its largest ever outbreak of avian flu raising a ‘massive’ concern for the industry

Suffering and misery exposed at farms supplying Morrisons' "welfare assured chicken''
Image: Nickolas warner/Shutterstock.com

Farmers of the region warn that the bird flu virus is beyond control.

The UK is battling its worst-ever outbreak of avian flu raising ‘massive’ concerns for the poultry industry.

The number of bird flu cases have been steadily increasing in the East of England although protection zones have been installed across Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.

Around 150 cases have been confirmed since late October 2021 and the East region is currently grappling with 11 live outbreaks.

Birds affected include chickens, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, geese, and swans.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Avian flu, which has proliferated in the UK through wild birds has been around for about 12 months now and has led to the culling of thousands of birds.

While farmers have been instructed to follow strict biosecurity measures for the foreseeable future to help prevent the spread of flu, the restrictions are doing little to stop the virus from infecting the bird population.

‘Out of control’

Mark Gorton of Traditional Norfolk Poultry in Shropham, Norfolk, told BBC: “It’s a massive, massive concern for us in the industry.

“The reason why it’s out of control is because it’s moved across into the indigenous bird population.”

He added that as the virus has spread to seagulls, pheasants, crows and birds of prey, it has become “very difficult” to get the disease under control.

Moreover, migratory birds from Serbia are yet to reach UK land and the farmers fear the  situation will get worse.

“We’re absolutely terrified what’s going to happen when the big numbers of the ducks and geese do start to migrate in,” Gorton said.

“We’re concerned it could make things a lot worse than it already is. Clearly things [like protection zones] aren’t working.”

Furthermore, the virus is not just affecting food supplies. It is also raising concerns in some of the region’s zoos and animal sanctuaries.

Measures to tackle the virus

According to popular opinion, vaccination is the only way to deal with the problem.

“Nationally we should be vaccinating our chickens against it. There are vaccinations available around the world,” Gorton said.

However, vaccines are currently not permitted by Defra. Moreover, although the government body has not issued any statement, it maintains that even if vaccines are able to reduce mortality, some vaccinated birds would still be capable of transmitting the disease if they became infected, while not displaying symptoms.

The situation would further complicate issues by increasing the time taken to detect and remove the virus.

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