This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low.

“As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds – whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm – is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.”

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months.

While there is no legislative requirement to put restrictions in place when this strain of virus is found in wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed local measures will be introduced to help manage the potential threat.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

A local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ will be introduced in the area of Dorset where the diseased birds were found.

BIRD flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Hampshire’s neighbouring county of Dorset, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed today, with more expected over the coming days.

This means it will be mandatory for all captive bird keepers to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place such as feeding and watering birds indoors to minimise mixing with wild birds, minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.

The risk to domestic poultry nationally remains low, however good biosecurity is essential and bird keepers across the country are reminded to follow our biosecurity advice which includes specific advice for keepers of backyard flocks.

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