The discovery of a strain of “highly pathogenic” avian flu on a Scottish farm has raised a warning that humans should avoid touching dead birds in the wild.
Poultry, eggs and manure were restricted locally after the H5N1 strain was identified in a flock of 14,000 birds at a rearing site in Glenrothes, Fife.
Concerns have been raised about high mixed game bird flock death rates, and a laboratory has confirmed that some were infected with the highly dangerous virus.
The entire herd was killed.
A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone around the scene have been established to restrict the movement of poultry and related products.
The health risk of the H5N1 virus to humans is still very low, according to the Scottish government. However, the public is urged to stay away from dead birds and report sightings.
Bird keepers are also reminded to abide by the latest laws and biosecurity procedures, including a ban on mixing with wild birds.
Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Ben Macpherson, said: “Following this confirmation, I have put in place controls that are required by national and EU law to control the further spread of the disease in the area.
“We ask the public to remain vigilant and report all results of dead wild birds. People shouldn’t handle the birds. “
Scottish Veterinarian Sheila Voas said, “This highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (H5N1) has been confirmed in the past few days on a farm of approximately 14,000 mixed game birds with high mortality rates.
“All remaining birds are being humanely killed for disease control purposes.
“It is important that livestock keepers take steps to improve their biosecurity and protect their birds from disease. Pet owners who are concerned about the health or welfare of their herd should seek veterinary advice immediately.
“Your private veterinarian or your local animal and phytosanitary bureau can also provide practical advice on how to protect your birds from infection.”
The most recent outbreak follows the confirmation of cases of the H5N8 strain in a herd of free range chickens on a poultry farm in Sanday, Orkney, in December.
Thirty-nine birds in that flock died and the remaining eleven were knocked down.
The prevalence of avian influenza across the UK has recently resulted in a very high risk for wild birds, moderate for high biosecurity poultry and high for low biosecurity poultry.
It is a punishable offense not to report a suspected case of avian flu and the discovery of a single dead bird of prey, seagull, or wild waterfowl – such as swans, geese, or ducks – must be reported to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 03459 335577 .
The discovery of five or more dead birds of other species together in the same location should also be reported.