Despite the authorities playing down the risks to human health of the outbreak of bird flu on a broiler unit outside Dunfermline, a warning has been issued that the implications for Scottish commercial poultry flocks remain significant.
And NFU Scotland has called on all poultry keepers, large and small – including backyard keepers – to monitor the health of their birds and to report any suspicious deaths or illness immediately for further investigation.
Union vice-president Andrew McCornick said: “Given the number of cases of low pathogenic avian influenza seen across Europe and in the UK, often linked to migratory birds and wildfowl, this is a worrying but not unexpected outbreak.This is an animal health matter and one that all stakeholders are taking very seriously.”
McCornick said that the industry’s well-rehearsed contingency plans should help contain the outbreak and that any threat to other commercial poultry flocks would be swiftly eliminated. But he stressed the need for individual producers to maintain strict biosecurity practices.
“High health is something that Scottish poultry producers have always taken great pride in,” he said.
“However, given the growing number of people keeping backyard hens, it is worth restating that avian influenza is a notifiable disease and that all poultry keepers have an obligation to notify the authorities if they suspect disease.
“Backyard hens can often be at higher risk because of their closer contact with wild birds.”