Avian influenza (bird flu) viruses can be classified according to their ability to cause severe disease (pathogenicity) as either highly pathogenic or low pathogenic. This section provides information on the disease and the precautions that can be taken to minimise the risk of its introduction and spread.
Avian influenza is a notifiable disease and if you suspect it you must report it to your local APHA office.
Sign up to the APHA Alerts Service to keep up to date with the latest news.
Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in Scotland
The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone expired at 00:01 on 30 April 2017.
The latest Veterinary Risk Assessment for Scotland is available to download. An Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) updated Outbreak Assessment for the current situation in Europe is also available.
It is essential that bird keepers maintain effective biosecurity year-round, not just when a prevention zone is in place. More information about maintaining effective biosecurity is available below. Any businesses with existing contingency plans should also consider reviewing them, given the new perspective this season’s outbreaks of H5N8 provides.
All bird gatherings, regardless of species, are now permitted in Scotland under the general licence. Poultry, game birds or waterfowl may attend gatherings provided that they do not come from the Avian Influenza Prevention Zones that remain in certain areas of England (Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside) or any declared Protection or Surveillance Zone (around an infected premises). The organiser of the gathering is responsible for ensuring that the conditions of the general licence are complied with, including strict biosecurity requirements. Further information and advice is available in our FAQ.
All bird gatherings are subject to the conditions of the general licence and prior notification to the Inverness Animal and Plant Health Agency Office. Non-compliance may constitute an offence and a person may be liable to a term not exceeding six months in prison, and/or a £5,000 fine on conviction.
If you have any specific concerns you should discuss these with your private vet or local APHA office. Frequently asked questions and answers are available here.
The general licence may be amended or revoked at any time.
Case of H5N8 found in Scotland
On 23rd December, a wild peregrine falcon found in Dumfries and Galloway tested positive for H5N8 Avian Influenza. No further cases of HPAI H5N8 have been detected in wild birds in Scotland.
As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are undertaken in incidents where any ‘at risk’ bird species (wildfowl or gulls), birds of prey or five or more birds of any other species, are found dead in the same location and at the same time. Members of the public are asked to report these incidents to Defra’s national helpline (email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 03459 335577, Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm).
The last case of Avian Influenza in captive birds in Scotland was Low Pathogenic H5N1 in Dunfermline, January 2016. APHA have provided an Epidemiological Report for that case.
Cases of H5N8 found in GB
Confirmed cases of avian influenza (H5N8) in captive birds since start of December 2016:
|Infected Premises (IP) Number ||Date of Declaration ||Description of Premises and Location |
|IP1 ||16 Dec 2016 ||Turkeys at a farm near Louth, Lincolnshire |
|IP2 ||3 Jan 2017 ||Backyard flock of chickens and ducks at a premises in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire |
|IP3 ||6 Jan 2017 ||Backyard flock of chickens and ducks on a premises near Settle in North Yorkshire |
|IP4 ||16 Jan 2017 ||Turkeys at a farm in East Lindsay, Lincolnshire |
|IP5 ||24 Jan 2017 ||Commercial flock of breeding pheasants at a premises in Pilling, Preston, Lancashire |
|IP6 ||26 Jan 2017 ||Turkeys at a farm near Boston, Lincolnshire |
|IP7 ||27 Jan 2017 ||Commercial pheasants at a game rearing unit near Pilling, Wyre District, Lancashire |
|IP8 ||30 Jan 2017 ||Commercial game birds at a rearing unit near Pilling, Wyre District, Lancashire |
|IP9 ||14 Feb 2017 ||Poultry at a farm near Redgrave, in the district of mid-Suffolk |
|IP10 ||24 Feb 2017 ||Small flock of chickens at a farm near Haltwhistle, Northumberland |
|IP11 ||4 May 2017 ||Backyard flock of chickens near Thornton, Wyre, Lancashire |
|IP12 ||6 May 2017 ||Backyard flock of chickens and ducks near Thornton, Wyre, Lancashire |
|IP13 ||3 Jun 2017 ||Backyard flock of chickens and geese near Diss, South Norfolk. |
Further information is available on Defra's website and Welsh Government's website.
APHA provide a report on weekly findings of HPAI H5N8 in wild birds in Great Britain.
The best defence - as with all exotic animal diseases - is a high level of awareness and good biosecurity. Poultry keepers and businesses in Scotland are reminded of the importance of maintaining biosecurity in their flocks and being vigilant to any signs of disease in their birds.
We have published a biosecurity leaflet for all bird keepers and the document Biosecurity and preventing disease in captive birds (Defra/Wales/Scotland) is up to date.
Only approved disinfectants should be used and dispensed in accordance with specified dilution rates and labelling instructions.
If you suspect any strain of avian flu you must tell your nearest Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office immediately. Failure to do so can be deemed an offence.
Further information on biosecurity and good practice is available via the links below:
Notifiable Avian Diseases Biosecurity Leaflet for All Birdkeepers
Avian Influenza Information for Gamekeepers
Codes of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Animal Health and Biosecurity
GB Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy
Great Britain Poultry Register
There is a legal requirement for all commercial poultry keepers with 50 or more birds to register their premises. The voluntary registration of premises with fewer than 50 birds is encouraged.
You can find out more information about registration here: https://www.gov.uk/poultry-registration