News

Avian influenza update

Published: 13 Feb 2021 11:15

Limiting the spread of the disease

Bird keepers in Scotland are reminded to maximise biosecurity and keep their flocks housed after avian influenza (H5N1) was confirmed in a flock of approximately 14,000 mixed gamebirds on a gamebird rearing premises in Leven, Glenrothes.

Laboratory results of samples taken from the flock have identified the strain as highly pathogenic in poultry. In order to limit the further spread of disease, appropriate restrictions have been imposed on the premises.

A Protection Zone (PZ) of 3 km and a Surveillance Zone (SZ) of 10 km have now been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of spread of the disease. Within these zones a range of controls are in place, including restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure.  Legislation for the H5N1 strain require a Restricted Zone (RZ) to also be declared.  However, this RZ will also be 10 km and will have the same extent as the PZ and SZ, with no additional measures.

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, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.

Producers and bird keepers are reminded to comply with the order to house birds that came in to effect on the 14 December 2020, or ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and follow biosecurity procedures.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Ben Macpherson said:

“Following this confirmation I have put in place controls required under domestic and EU legislation that will help control any further spread of the disease in the surrounding area. We ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds. People should not handle the birds. ”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said:

“This highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (H5N1) has been confirmed on a farm of approximately 14,000 mixed gamebirds with high mortality in the last few days. All remaining birds are being humanely culled for disease control purposes.

“It is vital that keepers take steps to improve their biosecurity and protect their birds from disease. Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to practical provide advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.”

Background

Avian Influenza advice and updates

Avian Influenza case

New housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds against avian flu

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

Avian Influenza Protection and Surveillance Zone: declaration 

In light of evidence from the continent and ongoing high numbers of findings among wild bird populations in GB, the risk of incursion of avian influenza has been increased to very high for wild birds, medium for poultry with high biosecurity, and high for poultry with poor biosecurity. 

The UK government’s outbreak assessment following recent cases in the UK.

A cross-Government and industry poster outlining biosecurity advice can be downloaded.

Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.

In Great Britain, if you find a single dead bird of prey, gull or wild waterfowl (particularly swans, geese or ducks) or find five or more birds of any other species in the same location and at the same time, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 - please select option 7). You should not touch or pick up the birds.

Keepers should familiarise themselves with the avian flu advice. 

You can report suspected case of disease by contacting your local Field Services Office.

In GB, you are legally required to register your birds if you keep more than 50 birds. Keepers with less than 50 birds are strongly encouraged to register. It is also a legal requirement to notify APHA of any significant changes in the average number of birds kept.