Bird flu has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, experts from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have confirmed today.
Scientists believe more cases of the potentially disease will emerge over the coming days.
Tests have found the infected birds are carrying a form of the disease closely related to the H5N6 strain that has infected birds across Europe, however it is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year.
Public Health England said the risk to the public is very low.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said: ‘This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.’
Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease.
In response to the scare, a local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ has been introduced in the Dorset area where the outbreak was located.
Farmers will be asked to increase bio-security measures and keep their birds indoors to minimise the mixing with wild birds and reduce the chance of spreading the disease.
Also, farmers have been asked to disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of bird enclosures.
Members of the public have also been asked to report sightings of any dead birds in the area to the department so the cause of death can be investigated.