Information

Exotic notifiable animal diseases contingency plans - Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' framework: August 2022

Information on how and when operational partners should respond to a suspect or confirmed exotic notifiable animal disease outbreak.


Appendix I. Avian influenza (AI)

Introduction

There are many strains of avian influenza (AI) virus, which vary in their ability to cause disease. AI viruses are categorised according to their ability to cause severe disease (pathogenicity) in birds. This separates them into one of two categories, low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). They are also categorised according to the properties of their surface proteins (haemagglutinin (H1-H16) and neuraminidase (N1-N9)). To date, only AI viruses of subtypes H5 and H7 have caused highly pathogenic infection in birds. Therefore, notifiable strains to date are any infection of poultry or other captive birds with any highly pathogenic influenza A virus (HPAI), or any infection of poultry or other captive birds with LPAI influenza A virus of H5 or H7 subtype. In relation to AI in wild birds, action will be taken if a HPAI H5N1 strain is identified in a wild bird.

Legislation and National control strategy

Year: 2004

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (Survey Powers) (Scotland) Regulations*

Statutory Instrument number: 453(S)

Year: 2004

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (Survey Powers) (Scotland) Regulations*

Statutory Instrument number: 453(S)

Year: 2005

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations*

Statutory Instrument number: 646(S)

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: The Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals (Scotland) Order

Statutory Instrument number: 336

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: The Avian Influenza (Slaughter and Vaccination) (Scotland) Regulations*

Statutory Instrument number: 337

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations*

Statutory Instrument number: 399(S)

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (Scotland) Order

Statutory Instrument number: 196

Year: 2006

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (Scotland) Amendment Order

Statutory Instrument number: 237

Year: 2007

Disease Orders: Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (Scotland) Order

Statutory Instrument number: 69

Year: 2007

Disease Orders: The Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (Scotland) Order 2007

Statutory Instrument number: 61

Year: 2007

Disease Orders: The Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Poultry) (Scotland) Order 2007

Statutory Instrument number: 62

Year: 2012

Disease Orders: The Notifiable Avian Diseases Control Strategy for GB (updated September 2019)

The Scottish Government's response to an AI outbreak is outlined in the Scottish Government's Exotic Diseases of Animal Contingency Framework Plan. The Notifiable Avian Diseases Control Strategy for GB contains a more detailed response to AI. During an outbreak of AI in Scotland or elsewhere in GB, the AI web pages will be supplemented with additional information specific to the disease outbreak.

Possible impact

Commercial poultry in Scotland is small compared to other parts of Europe, but was still worth in the region of £82.4 million to the Scottish economy in 2019. At that time, there were estimated to be just under 15 million commercial birds in Scotland. Commercial poultry production in Scotland is a very organised and integrated industry, and any movement controls would have serious consequences for producers. Given the zoonotic potential of avian influenza, the involvement of the Health Boards and strategy for handling the media will be important. Any outbreak would also have an impact on recreational activities, such as pigeon racing.

Public health

Different strains of avian influenza virus pose different risks to humans. The H7N7 virus readily infects people, but symptoms are usually mild. There also remains speculation that avian influenza could trigger a human flu pandemic, although the risk of the mutation happening during an outbreak of avian influenza in Scotland is very low. The threat to human health by avian influenza is real and the Consultant in Public Health (Medicine) and PHS would be key members of the CDCC Management Control Team. Anybody visiting poultry farms should receive advice from the health and safety team in their own organisation. The Health and Safety Executive have produced general advice on the subject.

Risk of introduction of infection and spread of disease

There remains a low level of threat from a number of sources. The epidemic of H5N1 HPAI in Asia and Eastern Europe poses a low level threat from the import of infected poultry and poultry products, or by direct or indirect contact from migrating birds. There are enhanced import controls, measures in place to control gatherings of birds, enhanced surveillance and an awareness campaign, so that farmers put in place measures to reduce contact between wild birds and domestic poultry – these measures help to reduce the threat of introduction of disease. There is also a low level of risk that wild birds may introduce a mild strain of LPAI to a commercial flock and this may then mutate into a more virulent HPAI strain.

Spread of AI is usually by direct contact with secretions from infected birds (especially faeces), but can also be via contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing. Clinically normal waterfowl and sea birds may also introduce the virus into domestic flocks, and contaminated eggs and eggshells may infect chicks in an incubator.

Lead responder control measures under Statutory and Regulatory powers and responsibilities

Local Authority principal role

  • Enforcing animal health and welfare legislation
  • Enforcing movement restrictions
  • Enforcing of C&D requirements
  • Erection of signage and dissemination of guidance and information
  • Stand down and recovery

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) principal role

  • Respond to and investigate all reports of suspect notifiable disease
  • Lead agency in the instigation of local response to disease outbreak
  • Convene the NDCC, CDCC and FOB
  • Supervise the welfare of birds being culled and subsequent disposal
  • Subject to advice from PHS, APHA will provide the appropriate pre-exposure prophylaxis to staff and contractors brought on to IPs to deal with an AI incident.
  • Surveillance and blood sampling of animals to demonstrate the absence of disease and thus gain recognition of disease freedom

NHS Boards principal role

  • Provide pre-exposure prophylaxis to "at risk groups", as required
  • Carry out a risk assessment for the requirement of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
  • Coordinate post-exposure surveillance of at risk groups for influenza like illness as appropriate
  • Provide medical treatment and advice to persons presenting with influenza like illness
  • Deploy Competent Person in Public Health Medicine as part of CDCC Management Control Team
  • Provide representative to National IMT
  • Contribute to the Communications Strategy, risk communication and public facing messages in respect of matters affecting public health

Public Health Scotland's (PHS) principal role

  • Convene National IMT to coordinate Public Health response
  • Provide expert public health advice to responding agencies
  • Provide operational support to NHS Boards in relation to the public health response to the incident

Scottish Government principal role

  • Ensure necessary legislation is in place
  • Make and disseminate policy decisions
  • Make and disseminate guidance and information on disease control
  • Communicate with field staff and enforcement bodies (such as local authorities)
  • Handle policy issues, as well as share disease control developments with SGoR, NDCC, and other UK Rural Affairs departments.

Following suspicion of disease

  • A restriction notice is served on the suspect premises
  • Depending on the circumstances, birds on the suspect premises may be culled based on the clinical picture and interim laboratory results. A Temporary Control Zone may also be imposed – this will depend on the epidemiology of the reported case

Control - HPAI avian influenza in poultry and captive birds

  • If HPAI is confirmed in poultry or captive birds, then an Infected Area, consisting of a PZ and SZ will be established
  • A PZ (with a radius of at least 3 km) and a SZ (with a radius of at least 10 km) will be established around the IP
  • The Infected Area measures will include movement restrictions and enhanced biosecurity
  • A central C&D point would be necessary, but the throughput would be much less than that for FMD
  • Some movements will be allowed under a general or specific movement licence, according to risk assessment
  • If the strain is confirmed as HPAI H5N1, a wider Restricted Zone may need to be declared. Its size and type of restrictions would be based on advice from the Ornithological Experts Group and would likely be based on geography, such as following a coast line.
  • Depending on the epidemiology of the outbreak, captive birds other than poultry may or may not be affected by the measures in the Infected Area
  • All poultry on IPs and those considered to be Dangerous Contacts will be destroyed. Birds will be disposed of via commercial rendering or incineration under official supervision
  • If pigs are present on any premises infected with AI, they will be tested for AI

Control - LPAI avian influenza in poultry or captive birds

  • If LPAI is confirmed in domestic poultry or captive birds, an Order will be signed by the Scottish Ministers declaring a minimum 1 km LPAI Restricted Zone around the IP
  • Affected poultry on the IP will be culled and disposed of
  • Increased biosecurity and surveillance measures will apply within the Restricted Zone

Control - HPAI H5N1 in wild birds

  • If HPAI H5N1 is confirmed in wild birds, Scottish Ministers may declare a Wild Bird Control Zone (WBCZ) and Wild Bird Monitoring Zone (WBMZ). The size would be based on advice from the Ornithological Experts Group (convened by Scottish Government)
  • Poultry premises in these zones would need to be identified and inspected
  • Poultry owners would need to house birds. Movement restrictions would also be put in place
  • The APHA Head of Field Delivery would likely convene the CDCC Management Control Team, but this may not require the full response of a CDCC

Control Zones that may be declared

Every "Control Zone" is an "Infected Area" for the purpose of the Act (AH Act 1981)

Highly pathogenic AI (HPAI) in poultry or captive birds

Statutory Instrument:

  • AI (H5N1 in Poultry) (Scotland) Order 2007 and
  • The AI and AI of Avian Origin in Mammals (S) Order 2006 - referred to in this table as "the main Order"

Zone: 2 x zones; a "First Zone" (Area A) and "Second Zone" (Area B)

The 2 x Zones can be:

  • (a) Temporary Movement Restriction Zone (TMRZ) + Temporary Control Zone (TCZ)
  • (b) 2 x TMRZs
  • (c) 2 x TCZ

Stage declared: Suspicion

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers (SMs)

Controls: article 6 of the 2007 Order and Article 13 of the main Order

Statutory Instrument:

  • AI (H5N1 in Poultry) (Scotland) Order 2007 and
  • The AI and AI of Avian Origin in Mammals (S) Order 2006(c)

Zone: Protection Zone (Article 26 of the 2006 Order)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 3 km radius (minimum)

Controls: Main Order: Article 26, 28 and Schedule 4

Statutory Instrument:

  • AI (H5N1 in Poultry) (Scotland) Order 2007 and
  • The AI and AI of Avian Origin in Mammals (S) Order 2006(c)

Zone: Surveillance Zone (Article 26 of the 2006 Order)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 10 km radius (minimum)

Controls: Main Order: Article 29, And Schedule 5

Statutory Instrument:

  • AI (H5N1 in Poultry) (Scotland) Order 2007 and
  • The AI and AI of Avian Origin in Mammals (S) Order 2006(c)

Zone: Restricted Zone (Article 26 of the 2006 Order). A RZ may be declared for notifiable strains, but must be declared for H5N1

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: Any size considered fit by SMs

Controls: Main Order: Article 26, 32 and Some or all the measures in Schedule 4, 5 and article 33.

Low pathogenicity AI (LPAI)

Statutory Instrument: The AI and AI of Avian Origin in Mammals (S) Order 2006

Zone: Low pathogenic AI Restricted Zone

Stage declared: Upon confirmation of LPAI in poultry

Area: 1 km radius (minimum)

Controls: Article 53 and Schedule 7

HPAI H5N1 in wild birds

Statutory Instrument: AI (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (S) Order 2007

Zone: Wild Bird Control Area (WBCA)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: At least 3 km from where bird was found

Controls: Article 8, 9 Schedule 1 and 3

Statutory Instrument: AI (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (S) Order 2007

Zone: Wild Bird Monitoring Area (WBMA)

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: At least 10 km from where bird was found

Controls: Article 8, 9 Schedule 2 and 3

Additional preventative measures (disease need not be suspected or confirmed)

Statutory Instrument: The AI and AI of Avian Origin in Mammals (S) Order 2006(c)

Zone: Prevention Zone

Stage declared: period of high risk of incursion from AI (following a risk assessment)

Area: Any size considered fit by Scottish Ministers

Controls: Main order: Article 6

Guidance on handling and disposing of dead garden and wild birds

The advice given here applies in all circumstances where members of the public come across a dead bird, regardless of whether there is any avian influenza in the UK.

If you find die-offs involving 5 or more dead wild birds in the same place, at the same time, you should contact the Defra Helpline (03459 33 55 77 – select option 7). Importantly, during periods of heightened risk, where surveillance needs to be enhanced, the reporting threshold may be lowered to fewer dead birds. The helpline is open from 9 am – 5 pm, Monday - Friday. If the dead bird is a single, small garden or wild bird then you do not need to call the helpline. Single dead birds do not usually require referral or collection (unless the threshold for certain species has been lowered to a single bird).

If you find a dead bird, you should leave it alone. If you must dispose of a dead bird, you should follow the guidelines below. Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people. However, some simple hygiene precautions should minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds, and so the following simple steps are effective in reducing the transmission of avian influenza.

If you have found a raptor/corvid that you believe to have fallen victim to an act of wildlife crime DO NOT TOUCH THE BIRD. This will help preserve any evidence of a potential crime scene. Also, the dead bird may contain poisons that can be absorbed into the skin or contaminate the environment. Please contact the police on 101 and ask if the matter can be referred to a Wildlife Crime Officer. You may also wish to inform the RSPB's Investigation Section.

If you must move a dead bird

  • Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands.
  • If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (see guidance below if disposable gloves are not available).
  • Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag.
  • Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag.
  • Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
  • Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
  • If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a makeshift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste.
  • Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried – at least 60 cm deep is advised, but not in a plastic bag.
  • Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
  • Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.

Contact

Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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