Publication - Factsheet

Avian influenza (bird flu) outbreaks

Last updated: 29 Nov 2021 - see all updates
Published: 29 Nov 2021

Latest situation including current outbreaks and measures in place to prevent the spread of the disease.

Published:
29 Nov 2021
Avian influenza (bird flu) outbreaks

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been confirmed in Scotland and in other parts of the UK. Restrictions and prevention measures are in place.

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ): whole of Great Britain

A Great Britain-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been introduced and includes the requirement to house birds. This took effect from 00:01 am on 29 November 2021.

This means strict biosecurity measures for all bird keepers (including those who keep pet birds) to help prevent the spread of avian influenza from wild birds or any other source. 

Bird keepers - what you should do

Good biosecurity

Good biosecurity improves the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak.

House your birds

Housing measures are now in place across the UK to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza. Bird keepers must keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread and eradicate the disease. 

The introduction of housing measures means that poultry keepers - whether keepers of just a few birds or thousands - must now:

  • house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds
  • cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
  • minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging bird keepers to take steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and put up additional housing where necessary.

The additional housing measures build upon the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in across Great Britain as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) on 3 November 2021 and in and Northern Ireland on 17 November 2021.

If you keep poultry (including game birds or as pets), you should also:

Keepers with over 500 birds

Keepers with more than 500 birds need to:

  • restrict access for non-essential personnel on their sites
  • ensure workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures
  • clean and disinfect site vehicles regularly to limit the risk of disease spreading

Small flocks

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals. This applies if you only have a few birds as pets.

An outbreak of avian influenza in backyard poultry 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.

Bird gatherings

The Scottish General Bird Gathering Licence has been amended to prohibit gatherings of specified species of birds. Changes took effect from 8 November at 00:01 hours.

This means gatherings are prohibited of:

  • kept galliformes (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, quails and other land fowl)
  • kept anseriformes, (ducks, geese, swans and other water fowl).

Organisers of all gatherings are encouraged to ensure their gathering complies with the conditions of the Bird gathering general licence.

Confirmed cases of avian influenza H5N1

Angus constituency

Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 was confirmed at a premises near Arbroath, Angus on 4 November. A Protection Zone, Surveillance Zone and Restricted Zone were declared.  This meant movement restrictions within these zones - for example, poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure - to prevent any further spread of disease.

Following completion of preliminary cleansing and disinfection and mandatory surveillance requirements, Scottish Ministers declared the end of the Protection Zone and Restricted Zone on 26 November 2021.  The area which formed the Protection Zone and Restricted Zone has now become part of a 10 km Surveillance Zone. 

Further information about the amended zone can be found in the declaration.  Keepers can find out if their premises is in the SZ on this Interactive map. We only consider that you’re in a SZ if the whole or part of your premises falls within the zone. 

Confirmed cases in other parts of Great Britain

H5N1 has been confirmed in parts of England and Wales. Find out more at:

Check where disease control zones are currently located and if you are in a zone on the Animal and Plant Health Agency interactive map.

First published: 29 Nov 2021 Last updated: 29 Nov 2021 -