Avian influenza (bird flu): how to spot and report the disease

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of avian influenza.

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Higher risk areas (HRAs)

Experience from previous highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks, coupled with scientific and veterinary opinion indicates that migratory wild waterfowl (e.g. ducks, geese and swans) and gulls represent the most likely pathway for the introduction of HPAI virus (also known as bird flu).

Wild waterfowl and gulls (particularly migratory species) pose a continual threat for the direct and indirect introduction of these viruses into premises where poultry, game birds, pet or other captive birds are kept.

Areas of GB that are at increased risk of the introduction of the HPAI virus into poultry and kept birds from wild waterfowl have been identified, and these are referred to as ‘Higher Risk Areas’ (HRAs).

It is important to note that although these areas are at increased risk, poultry, including game birds and poultry kept as pets in all areas of GB remain at risk of avian influenza from wild birds.

Additional measures required in a HRA

The HRAs will primarily be used to target governments’ wild bird and statutory surveillance programmes and to highlight the areas of GB at greatest risk of bird flu being present in wild birds. 

During periods of heightened risk government might consider additional biosecurity through the declaration of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ).  Such a Zone would be based on risk.

Mandatory housing measures of free range birds will not necessarily be introduced solely in HRAs. Any decision to house birds anywhere in GB would be informed by risk considerations.

If you are planning a new poultry unit you should take into account the risk of HPAI where the unit is planned.

Action for poultry and captive bird keepers

If you keep poultry, including game birds, pets or other captive birds anywhere in GB, you should take steps now to review your biosecurity. This is particularly important if you are in or close to a higher risk area.

We encourage all keepers to follow our biosecurity advice in captive birds, as it represents good practice - whether you have commercial flocks, smaller flocks, game birds, or pet birds.

There is a legal requirement for all poultry keepers with 50 or more birds to register their premises on the Great Britain Poultry Register. The voluntary registration of premises with fewer than 50 birds is highly encouraged.

Higher risk area map

Find out if your premises is in or near a HRA on this Higher Risk Area interactive map.

We only consider that you’re in an HRA if the whole or part of your premises falls within the HRA. All keepers of poultry or captive birds in GB should continue to follow good practice on biosecurity.


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot (however, only report any dead wild bird findings via 03459 33 55 77)

Animal Health and Welfare 
Scottish Government
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Saughton House

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