Lincolnshire famers are being urged to be on their guard following confirmation of a bird flu outbreak in Europe.
The influenza is known to spread easily among poultry and on rare occasions has also been reported to have been contracted by humans causing a number of deaths.
However, there has no confirmed cases of a human catching the disease in the UK.
Farmers in the county are now fearful the deadly strain will hit local farms which could have serious financial implications.
Charles Roe, a free range egg farmer near Horncastle told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: “Once you have confirmed an outbreak on your farm, the cleaning and disinfection that must go on, by order of the government, is significant.”
Scientists said in June this year that a bird flu pandemic worse than the 2009 swine flu outbreak could be heading Britain’s way, after 1,300 cases were reported around the world including in China, Vietnam and Canada.
The US Centre for Disease Control said: “It is possible that this latest virus could gain the ability to spread easily and sustainably among people, triggering a global outbreak.”
However, the health authorities were quick to act and suggested the risks of an epidemic remained low.
A Public Health England spokesman told Mirror Online : “The risk of the influenza A H7N9 strain to residents in the UK remains very low, and similarly for those travelling to China.
“However, we are monitoring and we advise precautions are taken to protect those travelling against possible infection.
“These precautions include avoiding visiting live animal markets and poultry farms and avoiding contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers. Only eat thoroughly cooked poultry, egg or duck dishes and always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not touch dead or dying birds in China and do not bring poultry products back to the UK.”