The UK is experiencing the “largest-ever outbreak” of bird flu, George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, has warned.

This morning (December 9) he told the House of Commons: “Each year the UK faces a seasonal risk in incursion of avian influenza associated with migratory wild birds.

"While we have that each year, I have to say this year we are now seeing the largest-ever outbreak in the UK of avian influenza with 36 confirmed cases.”

As a result, around half a million birds have now been culled.

The UK's chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss has described the number of cases as "a really high number for the time of year".

England was designated as an avian influenza prevention zone on November 3 which requires strict biosecurity measures by all poultry owners, regardless of the number of birds they have.

On November 29 new housing measures for poultry came into force which mean that all bird keepers across the UK must keep their birds indoors by law.

A case of bird flu was confirmed near Newent in the Forest of Dean on December 5.

This is the second confirmed case in the south west as bird flu was confirmed in Dorset on November 27.

A case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry near Pokesdown, Bournemouth.

In both Pokesdown and Newent, Temporary Control Zones of 3km (4.8 miles) and 10km (6.2 miles) have been put in force.

Bird flu has been confirmed in captive birds and commercial and non-commercial poultry in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Essex, Leicestershire, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cumbria, Cheshire, South Suffolk and Norfolk.