Bird flu outbreaks at wildlife rescue centre and at poultry farm

Avian influenza (H5N1) was detected at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre near Beith in North Ayrshire on Friday.

Bird flu outbreaks at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre near Beith and at poultry farm in Aberdeenshire iStock

Protection and surveillance zones have been placed around a wildlife rescue centre following an outbreak of bird flu.

Avian influenza (H5N1) was detected at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre near Beith in North Ayrshire on Friday.

It is one of two new outbreaks in Scotland.

The virus was also found at a commercial poultry unit near Strichen in Aberdeenshire on Saturday.

A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been set up around each premises.

Controls include restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure to prevent further spread of the disease.

Sheila Voas, the Scottish Government’s chief veterinary officer, said the Strichen case was “devastating for the farm staff”.

She urged: “Please do all you can to keep your birds safe – it could be you next. But I hope not.”

Earlier this month, a backyard flock of mixed poultry near Collieston in Aberdeenshire tested positive for bird flu.

To limit further spread of the disease, the remaining birds were culled.

At the time, Ms Voas said: “We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch to protect their birds from disease and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds.

“Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately.

“Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to provide practical advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.

“The risk to the general public’s health from avian influenza is very low. However, the risk to people with intensive exposure to infected birds is considered to be low.

“Food Standards Scotland advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products, including eggs.”