The United Kingdom is currently experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of bird flu, a situation that has led to mass culling of birds and poultry, the UK government said Thursday.
“Every year the UK faces a seasonal risk of avian influenza associated with migratory wild birds,” Environment Minister George Eustice told Parliament.
“This year, we are witnessing the largest outbreak ever,” he added, with his ministry reporting 40 confirmed cases across the country.
According to Britain’s chief veterinarian, Christine Middlemes, about 500,000 birds have been culled so far due to the viral disease spread by migratory birds from northern Russia and eastern Europe.
“It sounds massive, and it’s really devastating for the affected owners,” she told the BBC. But when it comes to food supplies, “there are actually very few when it comes to the supply of eggs, meat, chicken and so on,” she added as Christmas approaches, which is a good season for poultry producers.
Emphasizing that the migration season extended to March, Ms. Middlemise added that it would be necessary to maintain “enhanced levels of biosecurity for this entire period”.
A protection zone was imposed in early November in the country, then extended at the end of the month, requiring the keeping of domestic and captive birds in captivity as well as enhanced cleaning and disinfection operations.
Risks to human health and food safety are considered minimal by health authorities.
France has also been affected by several outbreaks of bird flu, both in breeding and in wildlife.