Avian influenza H5N8 outbreak in North Yorkshire

In early February 2021, Livetec was called to a unit in North Yorkshire following confirmation that HPAI H5N8 was quickly spreading through over 1,500 free range chickens resident on site. 

The Livetec Operations team mobilised quickly to be on site within hours. APHA had imposed restrictions the previous day, meaning controls on movement on and off premises were already in place, along with a 10KM surveillance zone. 

Following an assessment, the Livetec team initiated appropriate emergency depopulation measures on the 6th February in order to contain the outbreak, with the measures being completed the same day. 

A subsequent investigation to identify the source of the outbreak established that on-farm biosecurity measures fell far short of the level required to prevent the spread of disease. The detail of the report suggests that the farm could have taken great strides to prevent and contain an outbreak if they had assumed a higher adherence to necessary biosecurity standards – with support from Livetec’s technical services in the form of a biosecurity strategy. 

The outcome of the investigation found that poor biosecurity had led to the outbreak and assumed that contact with wild birds was the most likely source. Multiple serious biosecurity failings were noted in the report, including contaminated bedding, rodents, a lack of biosecurity protocols in the poultry sheds, an absence of cleansing and disinfection processes and no dedicated clothing or footwear for the farm personnel. 

With prior support from Livetec’s consultancy services, these risks could have been identified and suitable biosecurity measures put in place, reducing the potential for disease incursion and mitigating against operational disruption and financial loss.