THE discovery of bird flu in Cumbria has been confirmed as 'highly pathogenic'.

Over the weekend, Avian influenza H5N1 (otherwise known as Bird Flu) was confirmed in birds at premises near Silecroft, Copeland, Cumbria.

Further testing at the premises confirmed this to be a highly pathogenic strain (HPAI H5N1).

Birds are being culled and access to part of Cumbria is restricted after cases of avian flu were identified in the county.

Cumbria County Council urged people not to touch dead birds and said further testing was under way after the discovery of the cases.

The authority said a 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone had been introduced following the cases being identified near Silecroft, Copeland.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type and is often fatal in birds. However, the risk to public health remains very low.

Avian Influenza is a disease which mainly affects birds, but on rare occasions, it can affect mammals including humans.

Consequently, several precautionary measures have been put in place around the affected premises - including a 3km protection zone, a 10km surveillance zone and the humane culling of birds at risk of infection.

The zones restrict access to locations where birds are kept and impose restrictions on the movement of birds.

They do not limit access to residents or business owners. Further details on the zones can be found on the government website. The protection and surveillance zones will apply from 19 November until the zone is withdrawn or amended by DEFRA.

Temporary road signs will be put in place along the zone boundaries for awareness.

If you come across dead or sick birds, DO NOT touch or pick them up.

Please report them via the Defra helpline: 03459 33 55 77 For the latest updates, advice and guidance, especially if you keep birds, visit the government website.

If you employ people who work with poultry or work with poultry yourself, you can also read Health and Safety Executive advice on protecting workers from avian influenza.

Bird keepers should remain vigilant for any signs of disease and report any suspected cases to their nearest Animal and Plant Health Agency office.

More information on the Avian flu declaration and subsequent protection and surveillance zones can be found on the Defra website: You can find the area covered by the zone on the Defra website.