A poultry producer who lost 100,000 birds to bird flu said vaccination was “the only solution” to the outbreak.
Britain has been declared a bird flu prevention zone (AIPZ) following measures taken last month in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Mark Gorton, managing director of Traditional Norfolk Poultry, said this strain of influenza is “extremely virulent and contagious”.
UK Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer Richard Irvine said: “Vaccination is not part of the policy and approach to disease.”
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said this was the largest bird flu epidemic ever recorded in Britain.
Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex all experienced a spike in cases, with Norfolk the hardest hit, with at least 32 cases this month.
Within the county, the highest density was in the Attleborough area, which has recorded 12 cases as of Thursday last week.
Six of the outbreaks in Norfolk involved Mr. Gorton’s chicken and turkey farms.
He said he lost 100,000 birds, which is 10% of his stock.
“We never knew it that badly … it seems like we can’t keep it under control,” he said.
Gorton said bird flu “normally dies out over the summer, but it’s actually getting worse.”
He said the farms were “doing everything they could” and needed to be allowed to vaccinate the birds.
The poultry producer said: “There are vaccines available, but unfortunately it is the legislation that prevents us from using them.
“Vaccination is the only solution. We vaccinate our chickens against diseases that historically would have wiped them out – [avian flu] it will be the same once we are allowed to use the vaccine. “
Mr Irvine, UK Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, said “thorough biosecurity was needed to protect the birds” from avian flu.
He said there are “international” discussions on the use of vaccines.
Mr. Irvine also said that “work on the science behind vaccines and bird flu is ongoing.”
He said the government would need “the answers of science and internationally to consider the feasibility … of using vaccines.”
Mr. Irvine added that a particular problem was “how well the vaccine matches the virus that is circulating and infecting the birds.”
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