Malcolm Prior is a rural affairs producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

PoultryImage source, PA Media
Image caption, Around 48m birds have been culled in the UK and EU

Over 48 million birds have been culled in the UK and the EU in the last year as a result of the largest outbreak of bird flu on record.

In the UK, 161 cases of HPAI were found in poultry and captive birds, leading to the slaughter of over three million birds.

The previous record of 26 cases was set in the year 2020.

About 20m birds a week are produced by the UK government.

In the UK's wild bird population, there have been over one thousand cases of avian flu.

This year's outbreak has persisted year-round despite the fact that the virus has mostly died out during the summer.

The high level of the disease in wild birds is driving the number of cases on commercial farms, according to the UK's chief veterinary officer.

"Unfortunately we expect the number of cases to continue to rise as migratory birds return to the UK, bringing with them further risk of disease that can spread into our kept flocks," she warned.

The British Poultry Council's chief executive said it was the most challenging bird flu season yet.

The European Food Safety Authority, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and the EU Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza published the latest bird flu figures on Monday.

More than four million birds were culled after more than two thousand cases of poultry and captive birds were reported.

There have been 3,573 findings in wild birds with the virus affecting 37 countries. It warned that the figure might be underestimated.

There was a single case of human transmission in south-west England in January.

The director of the ECDC warned that those working in farming and the animal sector were at increased risk of exposure and called for employers to improve health and safety measures.

In order to inform risk assessments and public health action, it is necessary for vigilance to be present.