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Avian Influenza

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Avian Influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds.

Avian Influenza is a disease of birds. Humans can become infected but rarely are. There are many strains of AI viruses which vary in their ability to cause disease. AI viruses are categorised according to their ability to cause severe disease in bird species.  There are:

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) viruses (HPAI)
  • Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) viruses.
Some strains of HPAI can spread easily and quickly between birds in poultry populations and cause severe disease, with a high death rate.

A risk to the global human population may be posed by a new influenza virus that significantly differs from recent or existing strains of human influenza viruses. Therefore, any outbreak of AI must be controlled quickly. Anyone that works in close contact with infected birds must be well protected. Contingency plans are in place to ensure this can be achieved.

It is vital that all bird keepers continue to practice the highest levels of biosecurity and be vigilant for any signs of disease. If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. If you suspect that your birds have AI, you should report it to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office.

New Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - 28 February  to 30 April 

Expert advice suggests it is unlikely the current level of risk will change before the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone is scheduled to end on 28 February. In view of this, and following consultation with industry and veterinary representatives, the Cabinet Secretary has decided to put in place a new Prevention Zone, again covering the whole of Wales, that will take effect from midnight on 28 February until 30 April.

Keepers of poultry and other captive birds in the new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone must ensure: 
  1. They complete the Welsh Government Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Self Assessment Form.
  2. They adopt one or more of the following:
    (i) house their birds
    (ii) keep totally separate from wild birds, by use of netting etc
    (iii) allow controlled access to outside areas, subject to applying additional risk mitigation measures.
  3. Wild birds cannot access bedding, feed and water intended for poultry and other captive birds.
  4. Any person who comes into contact with poultry and other captive birds must take all reasonable precautions to avoid the transfer of contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of equipment, vehicles and PPE and the changing of boots/footwear between houses/different areas of site.
  5. Steps are taken to reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept to minimise contamination between premises.  Robust records must be maintained of any movements in or out of the poultry or other captive birds area.
  6. Vermin control programmes are implemented, including making the area and buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept inaccessible and unattractive to wild birds.
  7. Housing and equipment is thoroughly cleansed and disinfected at the end of a production cycle.
  8. The area where poultry or other captive birds are kept is regularly checked for signs of wild bird access and appropriate corrective action taken immediately.  
  9. Boot dips using approved disinfectants at the appropriate concentration, must be kept at all points where people must use it, such as, but not limited to,  farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures.
  10. Domestic waterfowl (ducks and geese) are kept separately from, and cannot make contact with, other domestic species.
  11. Regular health checks of the birds are completed and any changes in bird health are discussed with a private veterinary.  If a notifiable disease is suspected then this should be immediately reported to APHA.
  12. The site is regularly inspected and kept clean, any spillages are immediately cleaned.
Please remember the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and the required measures will remain in place until the 28 February, however to provide time for all keepers to prepare and complete the “Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Self Assessment Form” copies of this and the “Additional Risk Mitigation Measures” have been provided below in the Document Download section.

The form will assist all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to ensure they are compliant with the required measures.   keepers of poultry and other captive birds must sign and complete. Those keepers who, following the assessment, wish to provide controlled access to outside areas for their birds by applying additional risk mitigation measures must also complete .  

The completed Self Assessment Form should be retained and provided for inspection if requested by representatives from APHA or Local Authorities.

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Extended to 28 February

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declared by the Welsh Ministers on 6 December 2016 will remain in place until 28 February 2017. The zone covers the whole of Wales and a copy of the declaration is available below. This means extra biosecurity measures for all poultry and captive birds to protect them from the risk from wild birds.

The zone requires the immediate and compulsory housing of domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks, or where this is not practical, their complete separation from contact with wild birds. For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds, keepers should take practical steps to keep these birds separate from wild birds.

Gatherings of Poultry Suspended

A Risk Assessment on the likelihood of spread of avian notifiable disease associated with bird gatherings has been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

In consideration of the assessment, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths announced a further precautionary measure with the introduction of a temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds in Wales.

The ban on gatherings applies to poultry, including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as fairs, markets, shows, sales or exhibitions. Similar bans have been introduced in England and Scotland, ensuring a consistent GB approach. 

The ban does not apply to pigeons or aviary birds which present a much lower risk of passing the disease to domestic poultry. These arrangements will be kept under review and may be lifted or amended if the risk level changes.

The General Licence for bird gatherings has been amended to reflect this. Keepers of Poultry and other captive birds should familiarise themselves with the new licence which is available on the Bird gatherings and advice page.

General and Specific Licences

General licences allow a movement or activity that would otherwise be prohibited within the Zones. Provided you meet and comply with the conditions, you can rely on the general licence as providing authority for the movement or activity. Where general licences are available, these can be found at gov.uk (external link), and include:

  • movement of samples for salmonella testing from the PZ or SZ - general licence EXD 314(AI)
  • movement of table eggs within or out of the PZ or SZ – general licence EXD 243(AI)(E)
  • movement of poultry carcases off premises in PZ EXD339(AI)(E)
  • movement of poultry litter, manure or slurry off premises in PZ or SZ EXD353(AI)(E). 
See gov.uk (external link) for specific licences currently available.

Specific licences must be applied for and obtained from APHA. If a licence is issued, it will allow a one-off movement and be subject to certain conditions based on disease control risk.

The form is in a word format (go to gov.uk (external link), and scroll down to Specific Licences to download); it can be filled in electronically and emailed to outbreak.licensing@apha.gsi.gov.uk.
As the consideration includes a thorough assessment of the application, the disease risk situation and any conditions required to mitigate the risk of spreading disease, please submit your application, if possible, at least 7 days before the licence is required. To support the assessment it would also be useful to understand your contingency arrangements in case the licence cannot be issued at that time.

Wild birds

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, you should report them to the Defra helpline on: 03459 33 55 77 or email: defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk. This service covers the whole of GB. 
Not all birds may be used for testing but they will monitor where dead birds are found to determine where testing is needed so it is important that this information is gathered. A report is published on a weekly basis on findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) H5N8 in wild birds in Great Britain.
 

UK Outbreaks 

An interactive map  (external link) is available where you will be able to check if you live within any restriction zones.  This will continue to be updated to reflect the current position.
Summary of confirmed cases of H5N8 across the UK
16 December 2016, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed on a turkey farm in Louth, Lincolnshire. A Protection Zone (PZ) and Surveillance Zone (SZ) were put in place around the infected premises to prevent the spread of disease. After cleansing and disinfection, the 3km PZ was lifted on 9 January 2017, and the 10km SZ was lifted on 18 January 2017. For more details please visit gov.uk (external link)
3 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) was confirmed in a back yard flock of chickens and ducks on a premise in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire. A 3 km Protection Zone and 10 km Surveillance Zone were put in place around the infected premises to prevent the spread of disease. After cleansing and disinfection, the 3km PZ was lifted on 26 January 2017, and the 10km SZ was lifted on 4 February 2017.
6 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) was confirmed in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Settle, North Yorkshire. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises.  For more details please visit gov.uk (external link)
16 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed in turkeys on a commercial unit in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises. For more details please visit gov.uk (external link)
24 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed in a flock of farmed breeding pheasants at a premises in Preston, Lancashire. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises. For more details please visit gov.uk (external link).
26 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed in turkeys on a commercial unit in Boston, Lincolnshire. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises.
27 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed in a flock of pheasants at a premises in Wyre, Lancashire. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises.
31 January 2017, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed in a flock of game birds at a premises in Poulton Le Flyde, Lancashire. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises.