2018-01-15  facebooktwitterrss

Avian Flu Found in Wild Birds in Dorset

Bird flu has been detected in wild birds in Dorset, for first time this winter, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed with more expected over the coming days.

This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months. This is different to the strains which affected people in China last year and Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low. The Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.


Current situation

On 12 January 2018 Defra confirmed the finding of Avian Influenza H5N6 in 17 wild birds in South Dorset. This was the first time we’ve found this during the winter of 2017 to 2018.

We’ve introduced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone which applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in specific, targeted areas of South Dorset. All keepers in this Prevention Zone must follow our detailed legal requirements on strict biosecurity, whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock.

Outside this area, in the rest of England, keepers aren’t legally required to apply extra biosecurity, but we encourage them to continue to follow our best practice biosecurity advice.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said:
This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.

What to do if you keep poultry and captive birds

If you keep poultry – whether that’s a few birds in your garden or a large commercial flock – you should take steps now to

  • review your biosecurity

  • register your birds with APHA

  • report any sick birds

  • sign up for disease alerts

Review your biosecurity

Bird flu is spread by direct contact between birds and through contamination in the environment, for example in bird droppings. This means wild birds carrying the disease can infect domestic poultry, so the best way to reduce the risk of your poultry catching bird flu is to minimise chances for them to come into contact with wild birds or their droppings by practising good biosecurity.

You should review your biosecurity measures now, as the risk level may increase in the coming weeks. This means reading government guidance on good biosecurity and taking action to:

  • minimise movement in and out of your bird enclosure

  • clean footwear before and after visiting your birds

  • keep bird enclosures clean and tidy and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces

  • humanely control rats and mice

  • place birds’ food and water in fully-enclosed areas that wild birds cannot access, and remove any spilled feed

  • keep your birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access

  • make sure equipment, feed and bedding are stored undercover so they cannot be contaminated by wild birds

  • where possible keep chickens and turkeys separate from ducks and geese

Register your birds

We encourage all keepers to register their birds with Defra so that we can contact you quickly if there is a disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action. If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises. Find out how to register your birds.

Report signs of disease

If you suspect disease in your own flock, or you find dead wild birds such as wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey, you must let Defra know.

Sign up for disease alerts

By signing up to the free disease alert system you will get text alerts and emails informing you of the latest news about bird flu and Newcastle disease outbreaks in Great Britain.


Related Links
link CHeCS Farmers Rewarded by Defra in new TB Rules
link NOAH’s Review of 2017 – Brexit has been Key
link More Frequent Testing to Boost Fight Against Bovine TB
link Five Steps to Better Calf Health