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Avian influenza (bird flu) - Update

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N6) has been detected in wild birds in Warwickshire and South Dorset and therefore an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was introduced in England on 18 January 2018.

The Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England, whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock.
The Zone introduces mandatory enhanced biosecurity measures.

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has said the disease poses no food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The Biosecurity measures

All poultry keepers should:

  • minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
  • clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a Government approved disinfectant at entrances and exits
  • clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry
  • keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
  • humanely control rats and mice
  • place birds' food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds and remove any spilled feed regularly
  • keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access
  • keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet

    If you suspect any type of avian influenza you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.

    The full controls, including the extra biosecurity measures that keepers of more than 500 birds must take, can be found on GOV.UK website »

Signs of the Avian Influenza disease

The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces and poultry affected may show the following symptoms:

  • swollen head
  • blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • loss of appetite
  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • diarrhoea
  • fewer eggs laid
  • increased mortality

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.

Reporting dead wild birds

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese, or ducks) or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).

APHA alerts subscription service

The APHA alerts subscription service provides registered users with the latest news on exotic notifiable animal disease outbreaks in Great Britain. Alerts may also be sent outside of a disease outbreak. You can subscribe via their website »

Poultry register

If you own, or are responsible for, poultry flocks of 50 or more birds (not necessarily of the same species) and even if your premises are only stocked for part of the year, then you must, within one month of their arrival at your premises, register your flocks.

For poultry flocks of fewer than 50 birds, whilst the law does not require you to register them, we still encourage you to do so as this means we can contact you quickly if there is an outbreak of disease. Further information and links to the relevant registration forms are available from the GOV.UK website »

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 09 Apr 2018 at 09:03