Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs
There have been 3 separate findings in England of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N6 in wild birds in, Dorset, Warwickshire and Hertfordshire this month.
A veterinary risk assessment for England and Wales states in light of the 3 recent findings in wild birds, the risk level for disease being found in wild birds has increased from medium to high. The risk associated with direct and indirect transmission to poultry has also increased from low to medium. The risk to poultry, however, is dependent on the level of biosecurity at individual sites. Effective biosecurity measures play a vital part in helping to reduce this risk level.
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, I am declaring an all Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, under Article 6 of the Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals (Wales) (No. 2) Order 2006. The Prevention Zone 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 unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
- 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, and fencing off wet or boggy areas
Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.
Whilst we have had no findings of Avian Influenza in Wales in 2018, I consider this current Prevention Zone and the requirement for enhanced biosecurity to be proportionate to the risk level faced in Wales. It is essential we take steps to protect our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy in Wales.
All keepers of poultry and other captive birds will need to comply with the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. Keepers must remain vigilant for signs of disease. Avian influenza is a notifiable disease and any suspicion should be reported immediately to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
I continue to strongly encourage all poultry keepers, even those with fewer than 50 birds, to provide their details to the Poultry Register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak, enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.
Information on the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, guidance and latest developements are all available on the Welsh Government website.