Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

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Restrictions to help protect poultry avian influenza will remain in place at least until the end of this month, the government has confirmed.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that has been in place since 6 December has been extended until 28 February to help protect poultry and captive birds from avian flu, said Nigel Gibbens, the government’s chief veterinary officer.

Captive birds

The zone requires keepers of poultry and other captive birds to continue to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate practical steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

Mr  Gibbens said: “The prevention zone means anyone who keeps poultry such as chickens, ducks and geese, even as pets, must take action to stop them coming into contact with wild birds to protect them from avian flu. Birds should be moved into a suitable building.”

It follows a a spate of bird flu outbreaks in both commercial poultry flocks as well as wildfowl. The latest outbreak of the H5N8 avian flu strain was confirmed in a flock of turkeys on 16 January at a farm in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire.

It comes after the same strain of the disease was confirmed in a flock of turkeys on a nearby farm on 16 December 2016. There is unlikely to be a direct link to the previous case but a full investigation is under way to confirm this.

A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone were put in place around the infected premises to limit the spread of the disease. The flock is estimated to contain approximately 6,000 birds. A number died and the remaining live birds at the premises were humanely culled.

If housing isn’t possible, poultry owners are obliged to take sensible precautions to keep poultry away from wild birds, like putting up netting to create a temporary enclosure and keeping food and water supplies inside and away from wild birds.

Risk of infection

Mr Gibbens said: “Even when birds are kept indoors a risk of infection remains so keepers must also practice good biosecurity, for example by disinfecting footwear and equipment and washing clothing after contact with birds.”

There is also a GB-wide ban on poultry shows and gatherings. Farmers and smallholders – as well as members of the public with back-yard poultry must also practice good biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection spreading via items such as feed, clothing or equipment.

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