Bankruptcy fear after Hy-Fly Preesall bird flu outbreak

Raymond Holden
Image caption Raymond Holden said Defra representatives are due to visit the farm

The owner of a Lancashire farm where a strain of bird flu has been found fears it could leave him bankrupt.

The H5N8 strain has been confirmed among 10,000 breeding pheasants at Hy-Fly Game Hatcheries Limited in Preesall.

A number of the birds have died and the remaining are set to be culled.

Raymond Holden said he had been breeding birds for 54 years and is worried the outbreak "could wipe everything out".

"It would mean we would have no revenue all this year," he said.

"Some of our breeding stock are virtually priceless - we're the only people in the country with them."

Image caption The H5N8 strain has been confirmed at Hy-Fly Game Hatcheries Limited in Preesall

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has introduced a 1.8 mile (3km) protection zone and 6 mile (10km) surveillance zone around the infected area to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Mr Holden said Defra representatives were due to visit the farm later after the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer confirmed the outbreak on Tuesday.

Public Health England (PHE) said the risk to humans was "very low". The Food Standards Agency has said bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

There have been a number of outbreaks of the virus, including one at a farm in Louth, Lincolnshire in December.

Earlier that month, poultry keepers were told to keep their birds inside for 30 days to protect them from a highly-infectious strain of avian flu in Europe.

The H5N8 bird flu strain has been found in poultry and wild birds in 14 countries, including Germany and France.

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