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Avian Influenza Update – January 2018

Defra has announced that following a second finding of avian influenza in wild birds in Warwickshire an extended prevention zone now applies across the whole of England. This is not a housing order but a legal requirement to follow strict biosecurity procedures and applies to all bird keepers, whether having just a few birds to commercial size flocks.

From 18 January 2018, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England. If you keep poultry or birds, you must follow DEFRA’s detailed requirements on strict biosecurity, whether you have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock.

DEFRA have taken these measures because bird flu has now been found in wild birds in this country. Bird flu is also present in Europe, and wild bird migration brings birds to the UK from areas where we know highly pathogenic bird flu is present. We keep our disease control measures under review based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

Prevention Zone
If you keep poultry you must, by law, follow specific disease prevention measures. These apply to all keepers of birds, regardless of flock size, or if your birds are pets. These are designed to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.
If you keep birds then you can continue to allow your birds outdoors into fenced areas, but only if these areas meet certain conditions including:
• you have made the areas unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
• you have taken action to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas
• you have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them
If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear.

Biosecurity Advice
If you keep poultry or other captive birds, you must take action to reduce the risk of disease in your flock by following government advice on biosecurity.
Good biosecurity improves the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases such as avian influenza and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak.
This applies just as much if you only have a few birds as pets, or if you have a large commercial flock. An outbreak of bird flu in back garden chickens results in the same restrictions on movement of birds. It has the same impact on farmers and trade in poultry as an outbreak on a commercial farm.
To ensure good biosecurity, all poultry keepers should:
• minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
• clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a Defra 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

Anyone who finds dead wild birds should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Read DEFRA’s latest advice in full here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#prevention-zone