Maidenhead residents receive letter following bird flu outbreak

Maidenhead residents have received a Government letter as part of the ongoing response to a bird flu outbreak in Eton earlier this year.

An outbreak of Avian influenza was first discovered near Eton in January this year. All of the swans at rescue centre Swan Lifeline had to be humanely killed.

In the letter the UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss explains that this strain of the avian influenza presents a ‘low risk’ to humans, but can be easily caught and spread by birds.

She adds that residents are receiving this letter because their property is either in or very close to the ‘declared Al protection or surveillance zone’ and to ensure the health of the birds in the area surrounding confirmed infections, a survey needs to be completed of ‘susceptible birds’.

Information provided by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that domestic movement restrictions could come to an end after a minimum period of 21 days from the date of the initial cleansing and disinfection following an outbreak, but trade restrictions still remain for another 69 days – making it 90 days in total.

It adds that ongoing surveillance in a ‘10km restricted zones’ needs to be carried out during the entire 90-day period.

The information adds that as part of the surveillance, the department needs to know how many bird keepers there are within the wider zone, and needs to contact everyone who has chickens and other captive birds, whether this is as pets or for commercial purposes.

Earlier this month, letters were sent to all of the households within the 3-10km zone to contact anyone who has poultry or captive birds to encourage them to register their birds voluntarily.

The department also want to ensure all bird keepers within the area ‘receive important information about biosecurity’.

DEFRA said the letters have only been sent to households within the 3-10km zone, since the department carries out foot patrols in the 0-3km zone to identify bird keepers.

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