AN emergency control zone had been put in place after the Government confirmed cases of bird flu near Clacton.

Avian influenza H5N1 was confirmed in chickens at the property near Little Clacton on Sunday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Both 3km and 10km temporary control zones have been put in place surrounding the affected location.

It is understood the response is being led by Essex County Council, Tendring Council, Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

A spokesman for Defra said: “Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 was in chickens at a premises near Clacton.

“A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone were put in place around the premises.

“Affected birds on the infected premises will be humanely culled.”

When avian influenza is confirmed or suspected in poultry or other captive birds, disease control zones are put in place around the infected premises to prevent the spread of the disease.

Within these zones a range of restrictions on the movement of poultry and material associated with their keeping can apply.

Some of those measures include restrictions on the movement of any poultry, eggs, or carcases.

Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds who migrate to the UK over the winter, where the disease can spread to poultry.

In November last year, heartbroken Julie Menzies was forced to close her animal sanctuary in Kirby Cross after her flock of rescued hens and geese had to be culled following an outbreak of bird flu.

She had run Willow Wildlife and Animal Sanctuary in Thorpe Road since 2004.

The former bio-chemist Julie had helped to save or rehome hundreds of chickens over the years and her sanctuary also houses guinea pigs, rabbits and goats.

There are currently 123 cases of avian influenza H5N1 in England.

There have been no bird flu cases in people and the risk to human health is very low.

People are advised to keep a close watch on their birds for any signs of disease and must seek prompt advice from a vet if they have any concerns.

If you suspect avian influenza you must report it immediately by calling Defra on 03000 200 301.