An increasing risk of bird flu has seen the Welsh Government introduce restrictions in a bid to protect birds and poultry from the potential spread of Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N6.
There have been three separate findings in England of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in wild birds in Dorset, Warwickshire and Hertfordshire.
In response Defra has introduced an ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’ across the whole of England.
A veterinary risk assessment for England and Wales says the risk level for disease being found in wild birds has increased from medium to high and means disease can be expected to occur at any time.
As a precautionary measure an all Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, has been declared by Welsh Government from 00:01 on 25 January 2018.
The risk of bird flu to public health is very low and did not pose a risk to UK consumers the Food Standards Agency has said.
Flintshire County Council’s Animal Health Team are advising all bird and poultry keepers of the importance of ensuring high levels of bio-security for their pets/livestock to protect their own birds and to prevent any potential spread of the disease.
The Prevention Zone will require all keepers of poultry and other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept, to take appropriate and practicable steps, including:
• 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 of people 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.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection, Councillor Chris Bithell, said
“Protection of the health and safety of our communities and our local economy is a primary concern to the Council and if we all work together by following Welsh Government’s advice to keep this disease out of our county, hopefully we will be able to avoid it altogether or limit its effect if an outbreak were to occur.”
Guidance asks keepers with more than 500 birds to take extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.
All keepers of poultry and other captive birds will need to comply with the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. Keepers are asked to remain vigilant for signs of disease.
Avian influenza is a notifiable disease and any suspicion should be reported immediately to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
All poultry keepers, even those with fewer than 50 birds, are advised to provide their details to the Poultry Register.
This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in the event of an avian disease outbreak, enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.
Information on the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, guidance and latest developments are all available on the Welsh Government website.
Any keepers of birds/poultry with concerns over their birds should contact their private practice vet or the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for current up-to-date advice.