An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Great Britain, effective from Wednesday 3 November 2021.
The prevention zone has been declared to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading among poultry and captive birds.
It comes following a number of cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds across Great Britain.
From Wednesday 3 November, it became a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.
Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading. It is not currently necessary to house birds at this stage.
Bird flu circulates naturally in wild birds, and when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe over the winter, they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.
Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.
The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
In a joint statement, the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales said:
“Following a number of detections of avian influenza in wild birds across Great Britain we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across the whole of Great Britain. This means that all bird keepers must take action now to prevent the disease spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding. It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.
“The UK health agencies have confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and UK food standards agencies advise that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.”
The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) means bird keepers across the country must:
- Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
- Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
- Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
- Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures;
- Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
- Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas;
- Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).
The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of the Government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of bird flu.
Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to Defra’s national dead wild bird helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (select option 7) and keepers should report suspicion of disease to Animal Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301.
More information can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.