Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) , strains H5N1 and H5N8, has been confirmed in several areas throughout the UK.
The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.
The new housing measures, which came into force on 14 December, mean that 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 the disease, including:
- housing or netting all poultry and captive birds
- cleaning and disinfecting clothing, footwear and equipment before and after contact with poultry and captive birds
- reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept
- thoroughly clean and disinfect housing
- keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at farm entrances and before entering poultry and bird 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
Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If bird flu is suspected keepers must report it iby calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, they should contact their local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).
Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.
Avian Influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is not carried in poultry.