6:15 PM March 22, 2022
The rising number of bird flu cases in Suffolk – and across the country – is now starting to affect everyone, not just those who keep poultry either commercially or at home.
Free range eggs have disappeared from supermarket shelves and tourist attractions like zoos and farm parks have had to take steps to prevent visitors getting too near their birds.
There has also been fresh advice to anyone who offers homes to “rescue chickens” – which are taken in by families after they are no longer required by commercial egg producers – that they should be kept away from birds they may already own.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council’s trading standards department said: “You should follow the current Avian Influenza restrictions and ensure they are housed and biosecurity measures are followed.
“To help minimize the risk of the virus spreading, we would advise that if you offer a home to rescue chickens whilst the national avian flu lockdown is in place, these are housed separately from any birds that you already own.”
The latest outbreak was at Gressingham Foods at Debach near Wickham Market where more than 80,000 ducks are being culled after the disease was found.
The risk of humans catching avian flu is thought to be very low. The only person known to have tested positive for the disease in the current outbreak was retired Devon train driver Alan Gosling who kept ducks as pets in his home. He recovered without showing any symptoms.
The government says there should be no risk to health from properly-cooked poultry or eggs.
Trading standards also say that feeding garden birds should be safe – but it is wise to follow RSPB advice to clean and disinfect the feeders regularly to help stop the spread of any disease.
The spokeswoman added: “If you have poultry or captive birds in your garden you should ensure that their feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.”
Tourist attractions including Easton Farm Park – which is outside the 3km protection zone, but in the 10-mile surveillance zone from Debach – are also taking precautions.
A spokesman for Easton said all its chickens were now kept behind barriers in their sheds to prevent them from coming into direct contact with visitors – there is no petting of young chicks as there is usually!
The restrictions are likely to be in place until the government is satisfied that avian flu is no longer a problem – which means free range eggs are unlikely to be on sale again for some time.