Skip to content

Avian Flu

Related Links

if you've seen a term you don't understand, please check here for an explanation.
Tell us if you want any of the documents on this page in an alternative format.

UK Declares itself free of Avian Influenza.

The UK has self-declared to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) that it is free of HPAI as of 13th September 2017.

H5N8 HPAI continues to be reported from South Africa and Europe, while Egypt has reported H5N8 as well as H5N1. Italy has had 7 more outbreaks recently; Switzerland and Germany have reported findings in wild birds. The overall risk level for the UK is still at present considered to be “LOW”, which is our normal year-round background risk level, given avian influenza viruses are usually circulating at a low level in wild waterfowl. 

Therefore, the risk for poultry also remains “LOW” for introduction of infection onto individual premises, but will depend on levels of biosecurity. However, the migration season is underway and therefore the risk will rise in the coming weeks. Officials remain closely engaged with other administrations and will continue to monitor the situation and take any further action as required.

It’s important for poultry keepers to remain vigilant and maintain high levels of biosecurity. 

All keepers of poultry, particularly backyard flocks, should make every effort to protect their birds from contact with potentially infected wild birds.

Gatherings of Poultry Suspended

The temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds in Wales has been lifted.
A new General License is available on the  Bird gatherings and advice page.

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: 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.

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 
  • 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.