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Bird Flu Prevention Zone to Cover Whole of England

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A bird flu prevention zone has been extended to cover the whole of England, according to a statement published jointly by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Food Standards Agency, Public Health England and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, including a legal requirement for all bird keepers in England to follow strict biosecurity measures. It follows a recent discovery of 13 dead wild birds in Warwickshire, all confirmed as having the disease, and a total of 31 infected birds at a site in Dorset. Defra took swift action by introducing a local prevention zone, but as the Warwickshire results confirm that the disease is not confined to a single site, the decision has been taken to extend the measures across England on a precautionary basis. It is believed to be the same H5N6 strain that has been found across Europe, but both Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency have confirmed that it does not pose a threat to the public. Although there is no requirement to keep birds indoors, as was the case a year ago, Chief Vet, Nigel Gibbens,  is quoted as saying: “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements and this is in your interests to do, to protect your birds from this highly infectious virus.”

  • The prevention zone means bird keepers across the country must:
  • 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 your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;
  • Clean 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.

Any keepers with over 500 birds will also be required to introduce a number of extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles. The prevention zone will remain in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review in order to monitor the threat of bird flu. Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77, and keepers should report any suspicion of disease to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301. There are at present no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions in place, but keepers should keep themselves up to date with all the latest information and advice. There are currently no findings of bird flu in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the prevention zone is for England only.

Posted in: News Just in, Poultry

About the Author:

Paul Melnyczuk is editor of Home Farmer, and together with Ruth Tott is the founder of the company. His Ukrainian father and Austrian mother came over in the 1950s, and he was raised near Accrington (of Stanley fame) in Lancashire. With a degree in European Literature and a year spent living in Sweden, and a further 2 years in the Sudan, his background is rich and varied.

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