DEFRA has confirmed a second case of avian influenza (AI) close to the Avara Foods site that was confirmed to have highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza on 29 November.

This second infection is part of the same farm complex, but classed as a separate incident because of the distance between the units.

See also: Avian influenza: Poland records first case as European infections rise

Suspicions were raised on 2 December about this second farm, with Defra declaring a temporary control zone around the site as a precaution.

It today confirmed that H5N8 had been discovered.

An Avara Foods spokesman said: “Investigations to identify how the virus established itself onsite are ongoing. 

“We have enacted our contingency plan and are working closely with government agencies and our wider suppliers and farming operations to manage this incident effectively and ensure that supply is not disrupted.  

“Additional precautionary measures are in place across our agricultural operations, but it is important to stress that there is no risk to human health or food safety.”

An Avara Foods broiler breeder farm in Hereford has also been hit by AI this winter. There is no suggestion that the cases are linked.

Housing order

In addition, a Cheshire broiler breeder farm and a hobby farm in Kent have both seen birds culled because of avian influenza.

There have been widespread wild bird findings across the British Isles, and two cases confirmed in unrelated captive birds.

Northern Ireland joined the rest of the UK earlier this week in declaring an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) which makes biosecurity a legal requirement.

It is understood that a housing order for free range flocks is likely to be imposed imminently.