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22 November 2021

Precautionary measures in place following confirmed Bird Flu case in Cumbria

Avian influenza H5N1 (otherwise known as Bird Flu) has been confirmed in birds at premises near Silecroft, Copeland, Cumbria. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain.


Avian Influenza is a disease which mainly affects birds, but on rare occasions, it can affect mammals including humans. Consequently, several precautionary measures are being put in place - including a 3km protection zone, a 10km surveillance zone and the humane culling of birds at risk of infection.

The zones restrict access to locations where birds are kept and impose restrictions on the movement of birds. They do not limit access to residents or business owners. Further details on the zones can be found on the government website. The protection and surveillance zones will apply from 19 November until the zone is withdrawn or amended by DEFRA.

Temporary road signs will be put in place along the zone boundaries for awareness.

The response is being led locally by Cumbria County Council, Copeland Borough Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency).

Colin Cox, Director of Public Health for Cumbria County Council, said: "I want to reassure residents that the risk to public health from avian flu is very low.

"However, it is important that people do not touch or pick up any sick or dead birds to avoid spreading the virus, which can affect humans in rare cases.


"If you do find any dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds while out and about, please report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

"I would also urge bird keepers to be vigilant for any signs of disease and report any suspected cases to their nearest Animal and Plant Health Agency office.”


People in direct contact with the premises have been contacted and offered appropriate preventative treatment.

Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However, anyone who is concerned should call NHS 111 or speak to their GP.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “H5N1 avian influenza has been confirmed at premises in Cumbria. We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and any birds at risk of infection will now be humanely culled.

“UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health is low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“We have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across Great Britain, so whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, it’s vital that all bird keepers take action to introduce higher biosecurity standards on their farm or small holdings.”


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Avian influenza H5N1 (otherwise known as Bird Flu) has been confirmed in birds at premises near Silecroft, Copeland, Cumbria. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain.