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Avian Disease Control Strategy

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Diseases - Avian Influenza

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.


Current Situation

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 businessess with existing contingency plans should also consider reviewing them, given the new perspective this season’s outbreaks of H5N8 provides.

Bird Gatherings

The temporary suspension of gatherings of poultry, waterfowl and game birds remains in force across Scotland and the rest of Great Britain. Provided there are no further cases in poultry or findings of H5N8 in wild birds, the general licence will be revoked and replaced on 15 May allowing all gatherings of birds, subject to some additional biosecurity measures.

The current bird fairs, markets, shows and other gatherings general licence allows the collecting together of captive birds (not poultry, game birds or waterfowl) from more than one source at one location, while minimising the risk of disease spreading between flocks. The licence allows these bird gatherings to proceed subject to conditions and prior notification to the Inverness Animal and Plant Health Agency Office. Non-compliance with the general licence 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.

However, you may wish to consider rescheduling gatherings if it is practical to do so - avian influenza virus can be spread by visitors on their boots, etc.  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.

This licence permits gatherings of captive birds (not poultry, gamebirds or waterfowl), which include:

  1. Columbiformes (including doves and pigeons)
  2. Passerines (including finches, budgerigar, canary)
  3. Psittaciformes (including parrots, macaws, cockatiels)
  4. Falconiformes (including hawks, harriers, buzzards, eagles)
  5. Strigiformes (including owls)

The species of poultry that may not benefit from this general licence and are prohibited in accordance with regulation 4(1) of the Preventative Measures (Scotland) Order 2007 are:

  1. birds of the family galliforme (including pheasants,partridge, quail, chickens, turkey, guinea fowl)
  2. birds of the family anseriforme (including ducks, geese, swans)
  3. birds that are reared or kept in captivity for the production of meat or eggs for consumption, the production of other commercial products, for restocking supplies of game or for the purposes of any breeding programme for the production of these categories of birds

The general licence may be amended or revoked at any time.

Cases 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 defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk 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 HPAI 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

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.


Biosecurity Guidance

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) was updated on 31 March 2017.

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