Avian Influenza Official Notification from APHA
There is a lot of confusing misinformation about Avian Influenza and what you must do and what is allowed or not allowed. This page is intended to clarify the situation.
Since March 2021 Avian Influenza had not been detected in the UK but monitoring has continued. However, in November 2021 there had been several incidents of infection of H5N1. This link shows a map of where the current bird flu cases have been. Please keep on with your biosecurity and think about increasing your segregation options for the best living conditions for the birds. There is guidance on the APHA site here.
The current position is the whole of the UK is declared a Prevention Zone (outside of the currently active Protection and Surveillance Zones). As of 1st May 2022 the previous housing order was lifted so birds no longer need to be kept confined and under cover. Avian influenza is still being picked up in the UK 2022 with many birds dying. The advice from DEFRA/APHA has not changed so no housing order, but still a requirement for high biosecurity.
As the housing order was lifted it doesn’t mean we are off the hook just yet. Biosecurity still needs to be at a high level so keep maintaining your disinfection and careful practices. It is possible that the ground your birds were NOT using while in lockdown could be contaminated so APHA have issued guidance on the download link below. This will prepare the ground and make it safer for your birds.
Bird flu biosecurity recommendations (this is good practice regardless)
- Keep ALL birds indoors or under cover with either a roof or small holed nets to exclude wild birds and vermin. This is not compulsory at the moment as the housing order has been lifted. EXCEPT where a local infection has been identified.
- Ensure that you feed and water your birds in an area that wild birds and vermin cannot contaminate either by drinking or droppings
- Restrict the visitors to the area the birds are in
- Make any ponds and boggy areas out of bounds to your birds and other wild birds
- Don’t encourage wild birds onto your property by feeding them
- Enhance your biosecurity by using a DEFRA APPROVED disinfectant foot dip at all entrances if possible. Clean boots and clothing are advised. Hard paved area to be disinfected also.
- Keep waterfowl (ducks, geese etc) separated from other poultry as the risk to waterfowl is greater.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after dealing with poultry and make sure that you don’t put your hands near your mouth at any time.
The Food Standards Agency are also offering reassurance that bird flu will not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. The eating of Poultry products and eating eggs are safe.
What happens following a local outbreak
At any source of the avian influenza infection, all birds are evaluated by a vet and if infection is suspected then all the birds on the site are subjected to a humane cull order. There will be no “get out of jail free card” to play here however – all birds die. Temporary no-movement zones are then created around ground zero. Once the final tests come back and their strain is identified, the following zones are declared. Severe movement restrictions are put in place in the active Protection Zones and active Surveillance Zones. No movement of birds in, or out, or within etc. The Surveillance zones are in place for about a month, but checking on the APHA website or viewing the interactive map will give you the current picture. Rules then revert to Prevention zone rules when the active zones are no longer in the active state.
Not all outbreaks are from commercial poultry outfits
The biggest numbers of actual birds in enforced humane cullings have been in commercial units but there have been just as many infected “premises” from hobby keepers too. Many people are blaming the commercial poultry units for the spread however this is not the whole story. So everyone needs to do their bit to protect all birds. The Farne Islands have just been subjected to a massive cull because of Avian Influenza with many wild birds such as Puffins have huge dents in their numbers. It is feared that many species will find it difficult to recover from such losses.
DEFINITIONS of Avian Influenza Declared Zones
|Zone Name||Description of Zone|
|Protection Zone||A zone at a 3km radius from round the site of an infection – Movement restrictions apply. No birds moved in out or within this zone. Current map of infections and zone status here|
|Surveillance Zone||A wider zone of 10km radius from around the site of an infection – Movement restrictions apply. No birds moved in out or within this zone.|
|Prevention Zone AIPZ||Refers to the rest of the country not in any active Protection or Surveillance Zones. Bird gatherings may be banned but movements are allowed.|
|Increased Biosecurity||Required legally by all areas of the country.|
|Housing Order||All birds must be housed under cover or a roof or nets to exclude wild birds and vermin. No contact to be allowed between any other animal and the poultry or the ground they have access to. This is a Legal requirement as at 00:01 on 29th November 2021. This will remain in place until further notice (most likely April or May or thereabouts depending on the risk). The Govt website will give updates or if you sign up to the notification service detailed below you will get an update via email or text as per your chosen method. Until the Government say it is lifted, it will remain in force. THIS ASPECT IS NOT IN FORCE NOW|
The paragraph below is a direct quote from the Governments website.
What You Can Do for the Future
It is becoming a yearly phenomenon to endure Bird Flu lockdowns so if you wish to continue to keep poultry, your best options are to make sure you are ready. Plan ahead to make their areas, secure, big enough, and welfare friendly for any future declarations. Being pre-prepared is the best that you can do because this will make the restrictions easier on you and your birds if they arrive next year.
Regardless of what this page says, you should still refer to this Govt website for the very latest position. Advice lines and reporting numbers are also on the page.
In Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should contact your local APHA office. Again the contact numbers are on the link above.
Register your flock – advised – but not Always compulsory
The Government are encouraging everyone who keeps birds to sign up to the free poultry register. It is compulsory if you have 50 or more birds but voluntary otherwise. The links to the forms are here There is no intrusion or hoops to jump through which is helpful.
Symptoms of Avian Influenza
There are 2 types of avian influenza.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)
This is the more serious type which is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds are:
- swollen head
- blue discolouration of neck and throat
- loss of appetite
- respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
- fewer eggs laid
- increased mortality
Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species (for example ducks and geese) may show minimal clinical signs.
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI)
LPAI is usually less serious but it can cause mild breathing problems, however affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.
The severity of LPAI depends on the type of bird and also whether it has any other illnesses.
Interactive Map of the current bird flu situation
An interactive map is also here to show you where there are infections and also where tighter restrictions are in place at the moment Interactive map click here
Sign up now for the free alerts service
The government has a free alerts service where they send you a text message or an email with the latest avian influenza news so you know when you are clear or otherwise. It is very useful service. All you need to do is give an email address or a mobile number for either an email or a text message alert.
Sign up here it only takes a minute.
Not just a UK problem
See the map below to see how widespread the 2020/2021 infections are, because as you see, the UK is not alone. Many countries are struggling to gain control. Economic losses are huge for the major producers and exporters who have been prevented from carrying on their normal trading.