A SECOND case of H5N1 avian influenza (AI) has been confirmed in North Wales following highly pathogenic AI being found at a wild bird rescue centre near Droitwich, Worcestershire, in late October.  

See also: H5N1 avian influenza – what is the current outlook for this winter in the UK?

Defra put temporary control zones around the site, close to Chirk on the Wales/England border (see the full declaration).

Testing is underway to determine whether the strain is low or high pathogenicity.

With cases continuing to rise in Europe, this new UK finding will make it likely that the government will move to bring in stronger control measures for poultry keepers, sources have suggested.

Control measures

An Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) is the first measure officials usually take, making biosecurity on poultry farms a legal requirement.

The next stage is a housing order. 

See also: In review: last winter’s avian influenza outbreak

The Netherlands has imposed one after a single case of H5N1 was found on an organic layer farm in the country.

The Dutch have since confirmed a second case on a broiler farm in Alkmaar, Northern Holland.

Risk level

It is also likely that Defra will raise the UK’s official risk level again.

Last week the agency moved the risk of avian influenza incursion via wild birds from low (rare) to medium (where events occur regularly).

Biosecurity remains the best line of defence against the virus. 

Chief veterinary officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said: “Avian Influenza has been found in poultry and wild birds in the Wrexham area.

“This is further evidence of the need for all keepers of poultry and captive birds to ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

“Public Health Wales has said the risk to the health of the public from Avian Influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear it does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Temporary control zones have been imposed to help prevent further spread of the disease.