Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
On 16 November the Chief Veterinary Officer for the UK confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on a duck breeding farm in East Yorkshire. The Office of the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer restricted the premises when the case was first reported to them on the 14 November and a restriction zone has been put in place around the farm, which bans all unlicensed movements of all poultry and poultry products in the zone. The 6000 ducks on the farm are being humanely destroyed today. The Animal and Plant Health Agency laboratory in Weybridge has confirmed today that the exact strain of the disease is H5N8 and investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the outbreak and whether it is linked to the outbreaks in the Netherlands and Germany.
The Welsh Government has been working closely with Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency since the case was first reported and the CVO Wales and officials remain fully engaged in the contingency planning arrangements that were triggered when the case was identified as a serious suspect for avian disease. Welsh Government officials are involved in daily meetings convened by Defra and with the devolved governments. All UK administrations have effective contingency plans in place aimed at preventing the spread of disease in an outbreak. The latest version of the Welsh Government’s Contingency Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases was published in October (see link below) having been updated with lessons learned from the last UK exercise, Walnut, held in June 2013.
Public Health England working with Defra have taken action to ensure that those working on the farm and those from the Animal and Plant Health Agency involved in the disease control are protected. Public Health England has stated that the risk to public health is very low.
Export of poultry and poultry products has been banned and officials are investigating the potential impact on the poultry industry in Wales.
I am maintaining a close interest in the outbreak and I am being regularly updated. Government has a good track record of controlling and eliminating avian disease outbreaks in the UK and I am confident that we have the necessary plans in place to deal with a similar event in Wales.