chicken-and-egg - page 18

Chicken & Egg. Welfare and Food Together.
Q. If you look at the outbreaks in winter, the
majority were in large indoor commercial
turkey holdings (Germany). How exactly did
the infection reach these birds?
A. For several of the large high biosecurity
commercial flocks in Germany, the exact
route into the flock is still unknown. For the
recent outbreak in Lower Saxony, there is
evidence to suggest infection was spread
through trucks collecting dead birds or
delivering feed not being properly
disinfected between visiting each of the six
premises. This, along with experience from
disease in housed flocks in the UK, shows
that whilst housing reduces the risk of
infection, it does not eliminate it unless
coupled with good biosecurity measures.
Q. Is a vaccine being produced to protect
poultry against AI, or does Defra see a day
when AI will be accepted as Foot & Mouth
is currently within South America?
A. No vaccine is currently authorised for use
in the UK against the H5N8 strain of bird flu.
To date, outbreaks have been successfully
stamped out using the control measures laid
out in Defra’s Avian Disease Control Strategy
and we have no plans to weaken our efforts
to control bird flu.
Q. Common complaints in 2016/17 were
mixed messages and a lack of easily
accessible information. Does Defra have a
better framework for support planned for
the next migratory season? Why was there
so little widespread media reporting when
AI hit last year? And how does Defra intend
to get its advice out more widely and
visibly than last time?
A. We keep all our disease control measures
under review and are constantly learning
lessons from our experience of previous
outbreaks. We continually update the
information we put onto to be
current, relevant and accessible to all types
of poultry keeper.
Ahead of winter 2017, we have launched a
proactive campaign to raise awareness of
bird flu among backyard flock keepers and
highlight steps they can take to protect their
birds. The messages are being put out on
social media channels and in magazines,
such as this one. We are working closely
with groups such as the British Hen Welfare
Trust, NFU, and with the Welsh and Scottish
Governments, to spread the message.
Q. Can Defra explain exactly how it defines
a ‘high risk area’ (HRA)? There has been
some explanation that the HRAs are
centred around bodies of water, but
surely everyone is never more than a
fewmiles away from a pond or lake?
A. As part of our disease control approach
to the outbreak in 2016/17 we designated
some areas as higher risk. This was based
on the best scientific evidence from a range
of experts, which concluded some areas of
England close to substantial inland or coastal
bodies of water which attract significant
numbers of wild water birds were at an even
higher risk.
Our evidence included disease surveillance
data showing how H5N8 was continuing to
spread across Europe, including parts of the
UK, and how infected wild birds, particularly
waterfowl, transmit the disease to poultry
and captive birds, directly and indirectly. We
published this evidence following a thorough
peer review process.
Other European countries took a similar
approach, with proximity to water bodies
being the main risk factor. We will continue
to refine this approach as we understand
more about the risk posed by certain species
of wild bird.
Q. How do free range birds within
commercial units cope with the sudden
restrictions? It seems cruel to give them
access outdoors and then suddenly restrict
them on the slight chance of AI entering?
Interview with Nigel Gibbens,
the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer
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