Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Bird flu chicken farm cull begins at Craigies Poultry Farm

Craigies farm

A cull of 40,000 chickens has begun at a Fife farm where a "very mild" strain of bird flu was identified on Monday.

A one kilometre protection zone was set up around Craigies Poultry Farm on the outskirts of Dunfermline after a type of H5N1 was found.

Tests indicate a "low pathogenic" strain.

The birds will be loaded into containment units before being gassed and driven away to be rendered. The process will take two days to complete.

A spokesman for the Animal Plant and Health Agency, said the cull began at noon.

The spokesman said: "Fully-trained, experienced and licensed contractors will undertake the culling using containerised gassing techniques developed with the involvement of the Humane Slaughter Association.

"This is the method used in previous outbreaks in England in 2014 and 2015."

Health Protection Scotland said the risk to human health from the virus was "very low".

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has said the bird flu strain was "quite distinct" from the form of H5N1 which had previously been detected in Scotland.

There have been a number of recent cases of avian influenza across continental Europe in recent months, including three cases in other parts of the UK in 2015.

Within the Fife control zone, a range of different measures are in place which include restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure and restrictions on bird gatherings.

Scotland's Chief Veterinary Officer, Sheila Voas, said: "The lab has now formally confirmed the presence of a very mild form of H5N1 avian influenza on a poultry farm near Dunfermline.

"It is important to stress that this strain is quite distinct from the highly pathogenic form of H5N1 that has caused significant problems over the past decade or so around the world.

"Robust precautionary measures have been in place since suspicion of disease was first reported, in line with our well-rehearsed contingency plans for dealing with avian influenza, and so today's formal confirmation is something of a technicality.

"The process of humanely culling all of the birds on the farm is now underway, and the one kilometre restrictions around the premises will remain in force for 21 days after preliminary cleansing and disinfection."

Ms Vaos added: "The eggs supplied by this broiler breeder unit are not for human consumption but are sent to a company hatchery.

"As a precaution, those eggs are being destroyed and the movement of poultry or poultry products at that site is restricted until that process is complete."

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