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Community / Control measures imposed after bird flu confirmed in Whalsay

Meanwhile there continues to be reports of dead gannets being washed up across Shetland

A NUMBER of movement restrictions have been imposed on poultry keepers in Whalsay in response to a confirmed case of bird flu in a local flock.

Two control zones have been imposed by the Scottish Government. Map: Crown copyright, Ordnance Survey

The Scottish Government declared two temporary control zones on Saturday after avian flu was suspected on several premises. One case has meanwhile been confirmed as being bird flu.

A government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government can confirm an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 at a small commercial free-range layer premises on the Island of Whalsay, Shetland Islands.

“The risk to the general public’s health from avian influenza is very low.

“However, the risk to people with intensive exposure to infected birds is considered to be low.  Food Standards Scotland advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products, including eggs.”

Poultry and wildfowl holders in a control zone A with a three kilometre radius are required to follow tight restrictions including keeping birds indoor where possible, implementing high biosecurity measures as well as keeping records of people who have been in contact with poultry and other captive birds.

A second temporary control zone B with a radius of 10 kilometres includes the mainland village of Vidlin.

Here the control measures are less stringent, but they still require people to be vigilant and take measures designed to reduce the risk of the spread of avian flu.

The order can be found here.

North Isles councillor Duncan Anderson said: “Unfortunately an outbreak has occurred in Whalsay and has been confirmed by APHA [Animal and Plant Health Agency] as avian flu.

“My sympathies are with the owner who has lost his flock.

“I encourage all other bird owners to make themselves aware of, and follow, the control measures imposed by the government to limit any further spread.”

It comes after an increasing number of reports of dead gannets being washed up at many locations across Shetland.

The owners of Shetland Seabird Tours wrote on social media that avian flu is wreaking “havoc among the great skua and gannet populations” in the isles.

Over recent weeks, avian flu has been confirmed to have killed a number of wild birds in Shetland, including eider ducks, gannets, bonxies and gulls.

Avian flu is a notifiable animal disease. Anyone finding dead wild birds and suspecting avian flu as the cause of death should report this to the Defra helpline at 03459 33 55 77. Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds.