April 19, 2022 5.30 pm

‘Poor virus control’ blamed for Lincolnshire’s bird flu epidemic

Stark reminder of how animal diseases can disrupt farms

By Local Democracy Reporter

‘Poor virus control’ is the reason why Lincolnshire suffered the worst avian flu outbreak in the country this winter, officials believe.

15 outbreaks of H5N1 around Alford, Louth and Mablethorpe led to 1.2 million birds being culled since December.

The transmission was ‘unprecedented’ both for both Lincolnshire and the country as a whole, Trading Standards manager Mark Keal told councillors.

It is suspected that lack of precautions were the reason why Lincolnshire saw so many outbreaks of the contagious disease, which is more commonly known as bird flu.

“Poor virus control is the likely explanation,” Mr Keal said when asked by Lincolnshire County Council’s Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny Committee about the high case rates.

“It can be that a premises isn’t secured, or that wild birds have access to the stock.

“Measures like cleansing and disinfection can be used to minimise the risk. [Lack of that] is the likely cause in this case.”

He added: “Avian flu has been seen at unprecedented levels both locally and nationally this year. It is a stark reminder of how animal diseases can disrupt farms, cause risk to the public and cause significant financial harm.”

The government is expected to spend millions of pounds in compensating farmers who have had animals culled.

It is estimated that the outbreaks cost the Trading Standards Services £10,000 and 210 officer days, which have delayed other inspections.

Temporary disease control zones were set up around farms where the disease was found to stop the spread. All of them have now been lifted, and Trading Standards confirmed there weren’t any more suspect cases in Lincolnshire.

Bird flu rarely passes to humans, but is known to be very dangerous when it does. All workers tasked with culling poultry at the infected farms were given Tamiflu shots as a precaution.