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Avian Flu Guidance

The government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed a number of cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in the wild bird population in our region.

National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - current requirements

Following a change in the risk levels and an increase in the number of detections of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in kept and wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain. This is to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds. This has meant that from midday on Monday 17 October 2022, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of Bird Flu.

Visit the GOV.UK website for information on the mandatory biosecurity measures

National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - housing requirement from 7th November

From 7th November the terms of the National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will be extended to require all captive birds to be housed. Further details can be found at Gov.uk Avian influenza: Housing order to be introduced across England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Current disease control zone in March

Following a confirmed case of Bird Flu near March on 31 October, DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency have put in place a 3km Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone around the affected site. The disease control zone imposes certain legal obligations and restrictions on all bird keepers, whether they are commercial keepers or have a back yard flock. Those who keep birds within the zone should familiarise themselves with the full requirements within the Order at gov.uk Bird flu: near March, Fenland, Cambridgeshire (2022) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If you aren't sure if you fall within any of the zones, you can put the postcode of the location of your bird stock into APHA's Interactive Disease Map. It will indicate if any of the zones extend to your birds' location.

Spotting symptoms

Be aware of the symptoms of Bird Flu and check your birds regularly for these. Advice on symptoms and how to report concerns is on the GOV.UK website.

Symptoms include:

  • 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

Report disease symptoms or concerns

If you keep birds and notice possible Bird Flu symptoms, you are legally obliged to report these to DEFRA's Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200301. Bird Flu is classified as a 'Notifiable Disease'.

If you find:

  • One or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks)
  • Five or more dead wild birds of any species

please report these cases to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 335577. You should not touch or pick up any sick or dead birds that you find.

Register your stock

Bird keepers with more than 50 birds, whether all the same species or a mixture, must register them by law with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Those with less than 50 birds are also strongly encouraged to register their birds with the APHA.

To register, visit the Poultry (including game birds): registration rules and forms on the GOV.UK website. This also aids communication with you in the event of a confirmed case in your locality.

Register for Bird Flu updates

The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) runs a free disease alerts service for bird keepers. This keeps you up to date with the latest Bird Flu developments.

Sign up to receive animal disease alerts from APHA on the GOV.UK website.

Risk to human health

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that Bird Flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public's health is very low. Nevertheless, we strongly discourage you from touching dead birds or those showing symptoms of the disease.

Furthermore, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that, on the basis of current scientific evidence, Bird Flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The NHS website has further information on Bird Flu.

If you employ people who work with poultry, or you work with poultry yourself, you can also read advice on protecting workers from Bird Flu on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

For more information, read the Bird Flu guidance on the GOV.UK website.

 

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