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Avian Flu

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All-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

In January 2018, there have been findings in England of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N6 in wild birds.  In response to this, Defra introduced an ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’ across the whole of England.  
A veterinary risk assessment for England and Wales states that in light of the recent findings in wild birds the risk level for disease being found in wild birds has increased from medium to high and means disease can be expected to occur at any time.  The risk associated with direct and indirect transmission to poultry has also increased from low to medium and means that such an event is possible within this winter season.  The risk to poultry, however, is dependent on the level of biosecurity at individual sites.  Effective biosecurity measures play a vital part and reduce this risk level to low, which means it may occur but rarely.  
As a precautionary measure, in response to the increased risk level, and to mitigate the risk of infection to poultry and other captive birds by wild birds, the Welsh Government has declared an all Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which will apply from 00:01 on 25 January 2018.
The prevention zone will require all keepers of poultry and other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept, to take appropriate and practicable steps, including:
  • ensure the areas where birds are kept are not attractive to wild birds, for example, by netting ponds and by removing access to food sources
  • keep your birds separate to and without access to areas where especially geese, ducks and gulls are present
  • feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • minimise movement of people in and out of bird enclosures
  • clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy
  • reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas.
Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take some extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.
Full biosecurity requirements are set out in our Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Declaration.

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. 

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.