SPAIN’S Murcia region has introduced restrictions on poultry farms in eight municipalities to counter the spread of avian flu.

The presence of poultry has also been stopped in any form of livestock competitions or cultural event across the whole of the area.

The ban also extends to local pigeon racing.

The outbreak is spreading across Europe and the contagious viral disease has caused the death of several wild birds in Catalunya.

Restrictions to farms have been introduced in Cartagena, Lorqui, Mazarron, Molina de Segura, San Pedro del Pinatar, San Javier, Los Alcazares and Torre Pacheco.

Chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys must be kept in enclosed spaces to avoid contact with other wild birds that could get onto farms, attracted by food or water.

The municipalities where restriction orders have been placed have wetlands, lagoons, or other natural spaces that serve as a perfect habitat for a large number of migratory birds that could spread the flu.

The Murcia region has over 580 poultry farms, with 130 in the Campo de Cartagena area next to the Mar Menor lagoon.

It’s estimated there are 1.35 million laying hens of which 42,000 are ‘free-range’ meaning they have open air access.

All poultry can no longer get water from tanks that could be used by wild birds.

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