Regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zones (AIPZ) for poultry and captive birds have been introduced in Devon, Cornwall, Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Somerset and Essex to help stop the spread of avian influenza (‘bird flu’).

This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in these areas to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks, of whatever type or size. A map of the AIPZ can be found here.

The UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 150 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021. Scrupulous biosecurity is the most effective method of disease control available. A list of confirmed cases can be found here.

The regional AIPZs will remain 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 avian influenza.

This does not apply to the rest of England, but all bird keepers should still follow enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks. However, additional restrictions also apply to in disease control zones in force surrounding infected premises. The location of the regional AIPZ together with other Disease Control Zones currently in force can be viewed on the Animal and Plant Health Agency Interactive Map.

The wild bird risk across Great Britain is maintained at medium and the risk to poultry with stringent biosecurity is maintained at low. However, the risk to poultry with poor biosecurity has been increased to medium, in light of the increased number of infected premises observed during September and the distance of some of these, as well as wild bird cases, from the coast. All bird keepers should follow enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find and instead report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs.

All poultry gatherings, including at fairs, shows and markets, remain banned, due to a large number of flocks mixing together and the risk posed by any infections spreading across the country.

Avian influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry or captive birds.

Advice to poultry keepers

All bird keepers must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.

All bird keepers (whether they are pet birds, a commercial farm or just a few birds in a backyard flock) can remain vigilant and help prevent avian influenza should:

  • 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
  • keep records of mortality, movement of poultry and poultry products and any changes in production
  • thoroughly clean and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry 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
  • prevent access by poultry to ponds and watercourses and ensure that birds are kept in fenced or enclosed areas

It is a legal requirement for bird keepers in the regional AIPZ to take these biosecurity measures.

See the Government’s biosecurity advice for more information.

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

Cases in England

For details of the current avian influenza H5N1 cases in England and the measures that apply in the disease control zones around these cases, see the avian influenza: cases and disease control zones in England guidance.

Check if you are in a zone on Defra’s interactive map.

See the latest bird flu news from The Country Smallholder here.

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