The scale of avian influenza outbreaks across the UK and Europe has been unprecedented with over 330 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021. While the risk of bird flu has been reduced to ‘medium’ for premises with poor biosecurity, the enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force as infection may still be circulating in the environment for several more weeks. The risk of bird flu remains assessed as low where good biosecurity is applied.
Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.
Scrupulous biosecurity is the most effective method of disease control available, and all bird keepers should apply enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks.
Poultry and captive bird keepers must:
- cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
- reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
- thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
- keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and bird housing entry and exit points
- minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds
- be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in England to the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301,