Poultry keepers are being urged to follow good biosecurity practices to minimise contact with wild birds and to be vigilant for signs of Avian Influenza.
Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds. It spreads from bird to bird by direct contact with infected body fluids, droppings and contaminated boots, clothing, equipment etc.
Reports of Avian Influenza H5N8 outbreaks in wild birds and poultry in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland have resulted in the risk level for Avian Influenza incursion to the UK via wild birds being raised from “Low” to ‘Medium’.
Poultry keepers are advised to monitor their birds frequently and to discuss any concerns with their private vet immediately. Employing good biosecurity practices will serve to minimise opportunities for disease incursion and spread, these include:
- thorough cleansing and disinfection of clothing, equipment and vehicles before and after their use,
- thorough cleansing and disinfection of housing at the end of each production cycle,
- ensuring that feed and food stores are covered and minimising other opportunities for direct and indirect contact with wild birds,
- limiting the number of visitors on to your premises and for those that do, ensure that they understand and adhere to your biosecurity requirements, these should be reviewed and updated regularly,
- having disinfectant available at your farm entrances for those entering and leaving to use.
“It’s important all poultry keepers remain vigilant for signs of disease in their flock and maintain levels of biosecurity to minimise the risk of any disease spread.
“Good communication is also vital for disease control and I urge all poultry keepers to notify or update their details and those of their flocks on the poultry register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately in an avian disease outbreak, allowing them to take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.”
The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said:
“Whilst none of the cases of Avian Influenza to date have been located in the UK, poultry keepers need to closely monitor their flocks for any signs of disease. In particular respiratory distress, diarrhoea, fewer eggs being laid, loss of appetite and discolouration of neck and throat. Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease, and so any suspicion should be reported immediately.
“All poultry keepers should also continue their efforts to maintain high levels of biosecurity to minimise contact between their own flocks and wild birds.”