A warning has been issued to be on the look out for signs of bird flu as thousands of chickens across Europe are slaughtered.
Birdkeepers in Staffordshire are being asked to report any suspected cases immediately to prevent an outbreak.
It comes as poultry was being culled and control zones enforced after a case of the H5N8 strain was discovered at a broiler breeder farm near Leominster in Herefordshire.
Two other cases of avian influenza were also found in Cheshire and Kent on November 2.
People who keep birds and poultry are being reminded to be aware of the risk of bird flu.
In response, the Government declared a Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Britain in a bid to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.
That means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.
However, families in Staffordshire are advised the risk to public health from the virus remains very low.
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The Food Standards Agency has also confirmed that properly-cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, were safe to eat as the disease poses a very low food safety risk.
Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for animal health, said: “At this time of year, when birds are migrating, we usually see an increase in the risk of avian flu which is why we are asking birdkeepers to be aware.
“There have never been any confirmed cases of H5N8 in humans and the risk of avian influenza to public health is considered very low.
“There are measures that poultry keepers need to follow to help protect their birds.
“So, whether it’s a large commercial farm, a few hens in a back garden, or rearing game birds, I would ask people to follow the official advice.”
The prevention zone means bird keepers across the country must:
- Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
- Feed and water birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
- Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;
- Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
- Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.
UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss added: “I have declared a national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) legislating for actions all bird keepers must take to help prevent the disease spreading to more poultry and other domestic birds.
“Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements and this is in your interests to do, to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
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