British poultry producers are playing down fears of an outbreak of a potentially devastating parasite disease in the turkey flock.

Cases of the potentially fatal ‘blackhead’ disease have been detected in the Netherlands, although Dutch authorities said around 10 cases are generally reported each year.

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said: “The chances of it spreading here are low, it’s nothing like avian flu.”

He said that while the risk of the disease entering Britain could not be ruled out, good farm management and increased vigilance would help
to keep it contained. UK farmers are already taking preventative measures according to media reports, with some farms being made out of bounds and others using foot baths.

The threat has been made worse by the fact the drug Emtryl, used to treat the condition, has been banned by the EU over potential cancer risks to humans.