Bird Flu Updates

The latest report from DEFRA on 19 January 2017 says:

The risk to poultry on individual premises is still “LOW TO MEDIUM” dependent on the level of on-farm biosecurity. The widespread location of the positive wild birds suggests that we should consider the whole of the UK is a risk area for wild bird infection but that areas with populations of waterfowl
species may carry a greater risk proportionally in terms of risk level for poultry premises.

As a result of the increase in positive findings in wild birds in Europe, 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, gulls or birds of prey and where more
than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location.

The findings in wild birds in GB is not surprising given the continued level of reporting in other Member States and therefore the likelihood of circulating virus in wild birds. In cold weather, the virus will remain infectious in certain media, such as water or on some surfaces so attention to contaminated areas and regular disinfection is important. 

We would like to remind all poultry keepers that there are several pathways for the introduction of any notifiable avian disease into a poultry farm: housing alone will not be enough to reduce the risk of some of these pathways. Environmental contamination will remain as a significant hazard, especially if wild waterfowl or gulls have regular access to the site, or contaminate the local area around the houses, so personal biosecurity is key to helping prevent contamination from being brought into a poultry house.

A temporary suspension has been imposed on gatherings of birds at higher risk of avian flu including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as livestock fairs, auctions and bird shows.

Owners of flocks of 50 or more birds need to register with the DEFRA website

If you have fewer than 50 birds you can still register or you can subscribe here to receive bird flu alerts by email or text from the Animal & Plant Health Agency (part of DEFRA)

Advice to general public: please be aware of walking or driving over wild bird poo which might be infected with bird flu and then transporting to places where chickens or other domestic birds are kept.

DEFRA has sanctioned Prevention Zones for 30 days which means that poultry and other kept birds need to be protected from contact with wild birds who could be carrying Avian flu.

DEFRA Guidance: How to spot avian influenza (bird flu), what to do if you suspect it, measures to prevent it

  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry 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 housing or enclosures
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds and vermin, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds or vermin

International FAO on Avian Flu

Implications for Game Birds

From the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust:

There are currently no restrictions on shooting activities and shoots can continue as normal, however the GWCT advises that:

  • Keepers of captive gamebirds (e.g. overwintering breeding flocks) must minimize the risk of contact with wild birds where indoor housing is not practicable
  • Be vigilant and look out for signs of sickness/disease/dead birds (captive, free living and wild birds) and report any concerns to the Defra Helpline – 03459 33 55 77
  • Ensure that captive flocks of 50 or more birds (chickens, ducks, partridges, pheasants etc) are registered with Defra
  • Ensure high levels of biosecurity
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