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An updated notice for all bird keepers and the public on Avian Influenza

With regard to the most recent cases of Avian Influenza within the UK, we would like to remind all bird keepers of the need to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity to prevent the introduction of disease, and to report any clinical signs indicative of avian influenza in poultry.  

December 15th, 2020

The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry andChickens captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.The new housing measures, that came into force on 14 December 2020, mean that it is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

Government Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging bird keepers to use the next 11 days to prepare for new housing measures, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and where necessary put up additional housing. These housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November.

The AIPZ means that all poultry and captive bird keepers need to take extra precautions, such as cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and workers changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures.Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • housing or netting all poultry and captive birds
  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

All keepers can find the latest biosecurity advice on gov.uk at the following links:

Wild Bird Surveillance  

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carries out surveillance for avian influenza in several ways, including a national survey of domestic poultry and found-dead wild birds of species commonly affected by the Avian Influenza.  We are urging wildlife wardens to alert us to deaths of these species.  

In addition, we ask that the public use the Defra helpline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77) to report findings of dead wild birds. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans or gulls (or any other species that have been found infected across Europe). For geese, ducks, gulls, swans, birds of prey found dead reports of one or more dead birds will be considered for collection. For any other species five or more dead birds in one location will be considered for collection.  

Information on monitoring across Europe is available in our frequent outbreak assessments.   Information on the latest findings of HPAI in wild birds can be found here. Poultry keepers can sign up to receive free alerts through APHA’s disease alerts service 

The guidance on reporting dead birds during during the Avian Influenza outbreak has been updated, please see this link.