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The risk to your poultry and kept birds.

First published:
6 December 2018
Last updated:

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone biosecurity self-assessment checklist

We have produced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone biosecurity self-assessment checklist.

Avian Influenza Housing Measures, December 14

From 14 December, there will be a legal requirement for all poultry and captive birds to be housed, or otherwise separated from wild birds.

More information can be found on the DEFRA website.

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

In response to the increased risk of Avian Influenza, on 11 November an all Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was introduced. This is being kept under constant review.

High Pathogenic Avian Influenza confirmed in England

Since 2 November, there have been a number of confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza H5N8, in England. Disease control zones are in place around all infected premises.

More information can be found on the DEFRA website.

Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza confirmed at premises in Kent

On 2 November, presence of avian influenza was confirmed at a small commercial poultry premises in Kent, England. This follows the receipt of positive test results for the virus. 

A Restriction Zone has been declared around the Infected Premises. This is in line with the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy.

All bird keepers are reminded to be vigilant for signs of disease in their flocks, and to report any suspicion immediately.

DEFRA press notice.

Meat from poultry within a Protection Zone

Food business operators have to follow specific rules for any meat produced from poultry or farmed game birds originating within a Protection Zone. Meat produced from poultry or farmed game birds originating within a Protection Zone can be moved or sold, subject to several conditions. These include a requirement that the health mark is replaced with a specific mark (approved by the Welsh Ministers in any particular disease outbreak) which must remain with it throughout any processing or repackaging. These conditions are set out in General Licence EXD249.

Under some specific circumstances (set out in General Licence EXD 264) the recipient of poultry meat is permitted to remove the specific mark temporarily for production, and in some circumstance not to re-apply it.

Avian Influenza incursion risk raised to high

The level of risk of avian influenza being introduced to the UK has been raised  from medium to high.

The chief vets from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland took the decision on November 6. This followed two confirmed cases of the disease in England and increasing reports of the disease affecting flocks in mainland Europe.

Our press notice.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus

The risk of HPAI virus (bird flu) increases during the winter. We have identified that migratory waterfowl and gulls are the most likely cause of this.  (Migratory wildfowl include ducks, geese and swans.) This is based on experience over the last two winters, coupled with scientific and veterinary opinion.

Higher Risk Areas (HRAs)

These birds pose a threat that they could introduce this virus into premises where poultry, game birds, pet or other captive birds are kept. This could be through direct contact, or indirect contact. We have identified areas of GB which are at increased risk of the introduction of the HPAI virus into poultry and kept birds from wild waterfowl. We refer to these as 'Higher Risk Areas' (HRAs).

You should note that, although these areas are at increased risk, all poultry remains at risk from wild birds. Including:

  • game birds
  • poultry kept as pets

What measures will be required in a HRA

We will use HRAs to:

  • target wild bird and statutory surveillance programmes
  • highlight the areas of GB at greatest risk of bird flu being present in wild birds

We may consider extra biosecurity through the declaration of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ). The declaration of such a zone would be risk-based.

Mandatory housing of free range birds would not necessarily be introduced in HRAs alone. Any decision to house birds anywhere in GB would be according to risk considerations.

If you are planning a new poultry unit you should take into account the risk of HPAI in that area.

What should I do if I keep poultry or captive birds

If you keep poultry, including game birds, pet or other captive birds anywhere in GB, you should review your biosecurity. This is particularly important if you are in or close to a higher risk area. We encourage all keepers to follow our biosecurity advice. It offers best practice, whether you have commercial flocks, smaller flocks, game birds, or pet birds.

Is my holding in/near a higher Risk Area

You are considered to be in an HRA if the whole or part of your premises falls within the HRA.