Latest situation - updated 21 January 2021
Avian influenza (bird flu) mainly affects birds. It can also affect humans and other mammals. Avian influenza is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by contacting your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence. If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 - please select option 7). See section below on ‘dead wild bird surveillance’ for further information.
On 19 December 2020, Scottish Ministers confirmed the presence of a highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza on a poultry premises on Sanday, Orkney. In line with legislative requirements a 3 km Protection Zone and 10 km Surveillance Zone (SZ) were declared with effect from 20 December. On 21 January 2021, at least 30 days will have elapsed since the completion of primary cleansing and disinfection of the infected premises. In addition, the veterinary inquiry has been completed at all premises identified as containing poultry or other captive birds within the SZ. The Scottish Ministers can now declare, under article 34(3) of the Order, the end of the Surveillance Zone.
Further information about the amended zone can be found in the declaration.
Avian Influenza Prevention Zone
The Chief Veterinary Officers for Scotland, England and Wales have introduced new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds. The new housing measures announced on 3 December 2020, are in force from 14 December 2020, and mean it is a legal requirement for all poultry and other captive birds to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, and for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease. The decision to implement the housing measures from 00:01 am on 14 December 2020, in addition to the current AIPZ measures, has been made in light of evidence from the continent and ongoing high numbers of avian influenza findings among wild bird populations in England. 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. Further details on the evidence that supported these decisions can be found in our risk assessments.
These measures build on the strengthened biosecurity measures that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November 2020.
These biosecurity precautions apply just as much if you only have a few birds as pets, or if you have a large commercial flock. An outbreak of avian influenza in back garden chickens results in the same restrictions on movement of birds. It has the same impact on farmers and trade in poultry as an outbreak on a commercial farm would have. Good biosecurity improves the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases, such as avian influenza, and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak.
To assist all bird keepers, we have updated the biosecurity guidance and have published a new self-assessment biosecurity checklist to help ensure you comply with the new measures within the avian influenza prevention.
Government Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging bird keepers to use the days leading up to 14 December to prepare for new housing measures, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet, and where necessary put up additional housing.
The decision to implement the housing measures from 12:01 am on 14 December 2020, in addition to the current AIPZ measures, has been made in light of evidence from the continent and ongoing high numbers of avian influenza findings among wild bird populations in England. 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. Further details on the evidence that supported these decisions can be found in our risk assessments.
All bird gatherings within the prevention zone are prohibited. Therefore, the general licence that had permitted bird gatherings has been revoked.
You should always check whether different arrangements apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Wild bird surveillance
Since 2 November 2020, there have been a number of cases of notifiable avian influenza in England. These outbreaks have been at a variety of different premises, including both captive birds and poultry. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carries out year-round avian influenza surveillance of dead wild birds submitted via public reports and warden patrols.
This surveillance programme has identified the presence of avian influenza H5N8 in dead wild birds from eight areas in Scotland:
- Cupar, Fife (swan collected on 29 November 2020 – due to carcass degradation it was not possible to identify the species)
- Dornoch Firth near Golspie (Greylag goose collected on 3 December 2020)
- Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire (3 x whooper swans collected on 3 December 2020)
- Clackmannanshire (1 x mute swan collected on 11 December 2020), (2 x mute swans collected on 15 December 2020)
- Montrose, Angus (1 x whooper swan collected on 16 December 2020)
- South Uist, Western Isles ( 1 x mute swan collected on the 17 December 2020)
- Ellon, Aberdeenshire (1 x knot collected on 24 December 2020)
- North Berwick, East Lothian ( 2 x mute swans on 20 January 2021)
In addition, the scheme has identified the presence of avian influenza H5 (N type not yet determined) in the following locations:
- Ellon, Aberdeenshire (1 x knot collected on 24 December 2020)
- Lossiemouth, Moray (1 knot collected on 29 December 2020)
As part of this surveillance a number of wild birds have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in other parts of GB highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). All findings of HPAI in wild bird in great Britain are published weekly. There have also been reports of highly pathogenic H5N8 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as part of the avian influenza surveillance strategies in those countries.
Further details of findings of HPAI in wild birds are available.
Animal Health and Welfare
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate