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Avian Flu

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All-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

In January 2018, there were 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 risk assessment considered the risk to be High and the Welsh Government declared an All Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 25 January 2018. This was a precautionary measure to mitigate the risk of infection to poultry and other captive birds from wild birds.
The risk assessment was updated and published on 18 May. The assessment concluded the source of the H5N6 HPAI infection in winter was highly likely to be from migratory birds, followed by spread to resident wild birds, and that the likelihood of finding more cases in wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales is now considered to be low.
Based on these findings, The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will be removed at 12:00 on 25 May 2018. 
All bird keepers are urged to maintain high levels of biosecurity, and to adhere to the following practices: 
  • 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. 

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. 

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 (0300 303 8268).