Nearly 40,000 chickens to die at bird flu farm

Craigies Poultry Farm near Dunfermline has been sealed off. Picture: PA
Craigies Poultry Farm near Dunfermline has been sealed off. Picture: PA
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A Fife farm remained in lockdown yesterday as up to 40,000 chickens are set to be culled after tests confirmed an outbreak of potentially deadly bird flu.

A 1km control zone was set up around Craigies poultry farm in Dunfermline on Sunday night when the disease was first suspected.

Detailed examinations have now confirmed the presence of avian influenza, a virus that has killed millions of birds in Asia and Africa and spread to humans in some cases.

Disease experts say the strain found is “very mild”, but are urging all commercial and domestic poultry keepers to remain vigilant.

Food standards officials say there is no risk to consumers.

Equipment believed to be used for culling the birds has been seen arriving at the farm, which supplies eggs for breeding broiler chickens.

• READ MORE: 45,000 chickens facing slaughter in confirmed bird flu case

Government officials ordered a cull of all birds on the farm to guard against further spread of the disease, which could cause a devastating pandemic if it were to combine with the human flu virus.

A truck carrying metal cages and tanks of argon and nitrogen gases was seen arriving at Craigies yesterday. It is thought the chicken carcasses will be burnt in an incinerator or fire pits on site.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the cull is set to go ahead today.

Scotland’s chief veterinary officer, Sheila Voas, said: “All the evidence so far suggests we are dealing with a very mild form of H5N1 avian influenza, which is not the same as the strain that has been causing problems in Asia and north Africa.

“We are looking into possible sources of this infection in Scotland but it is normal for such viruses to circulate among wild bird populations.”

Politician have commended the “professional” action taken by the Fife farmers, who called in a vet when they first suspected illness in their flock. It means no eggs produced by infected birds have hatched.