An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across England, Scotland and Wales.
It is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures; the UK Government has worked closely with Scottish and Welsh Governments to introduce national prevention zones at the same time across the whole of Great Britain.
Keepers with 500+ birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites. Workers will also need to change clothing, including footwear, before entering bird enclosures. Site vehicles will need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Bird keepers and backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry – including chickens, ducks and geese – are urged to strengthen their biosecurity measures to prevent further outbreaks of the disease in the UK.
The risk to public health and food safety from the virus is very low, according to Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
The introduction of the preventative zone comes after two unrelated cases in kept poultry and birds were confirmed in England last week. A highly pathogenic case of H5N8 was also confirmed today at a broiler breeder farm in Herefordshire.
British Poultry Council Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said:
“Immediate action is being taken and we ask that bird keepers remain vigilant. Report any signs of the disease and ensure that good biosecurity is practiced onsite. We are working with Defra and are remaining vigilant on poultry sites to minimise the risk to the national flock.”
The UK Poultry Health and Welfare Group, chaired by BPC’s Technical Director, Maire Burnett, held a live webinar to promote awareness of Avian Influenza and the risk it poses to the domestic wild bird population.
Informative presentations made by key speakers – including the UK Chief Veterinary Officer, the Poultry Club of GB, Defra, the British Poultry Council Veterinary Advisor and a key exporter of high value breeding stock – meant that the 500 registered viewers were assured of what to look out for, who to contact and how to implement the necessary biosecurity measures to ensure the protection of the health of the national poultry flock, the environment and the wider rural economy.
Whilst speaking at the event, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss declared that “our main priority is to protect your animals,” which is why “swift reporting is necessary.” “Bird flu is constantly out there in the world…just because it is far away, doesn’t mean it isn’t there!”
Similarly, after presenting a discussion on what bird owners should look out for and biosecurity tips, BPC Veterinary Advisor, Daniel Parker, said that “it is better to report it and get advice than harbour and spread it” and cause disruption.
You can watch the webinar in full on our YouTube Channel.
Relevant time stamps:
– Lee Grant, Chairman of the Poultry Club of GB, Avian Influenza from a non-commercial perspective, 14.50.
– Daniel Parker, BPC Veterinary Advisor, Signs of Avian Influenza and biosecurity measures, 24.57.