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New signs are latest step in tackling bird flu

Date Published: 11 December 2020
Avian Flu poster

New road signs are being put up near Melton Mowbray to remind drivers of the restrictions that are in place to reduce the spread of bird flu. 

The 40 warning signs are part of a series of measures being carried out by Leicestershire County Council, Rutland County Council, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) who are working together following a confirmed case of avian flu.

DEFRA brought in a 10km zone last month and during the last two weeks, Trading Standards officers have been carrying out foot patrols in the control zone, knocking on 15,000 doors to identify bird owners, provide advice and ensure all flocks are identified for inspection by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Those patrols are now complete, and Trading Standards officers are grateful for the support of bird owners in complying with the restrictions and responding to the new requirements.

“It’s extremely important that anyone who keeps poultry and other captive birds knows and implements the very latest biosecurity measures – even if they only have a small backyard flock. Avian Influenza is present in the UK’s bird population and we need to do whatever is necessary to prevent the disease from spreading.”
Councillor Lucy Stephenson, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services at Rutland County Council

“We are continuing to work closely with DEFRA to reduce the spread of avian flu and are installing these warning signs in and around the Control Zone to remind the public about the restrictions and to ask them to play their part. Working alongside partners, our Trading Standards team have completed a huge task visiting properties in the 3km protection zone quickly to help protect Leicestershire poultry flocks and businesses. The foot patrols were very well-received, and we had some very positive feedback from bird owners and members of the public.”
Councillor Blake Pain, Deputy Leader of Leicestershire County Council 

From 14 December, new measures will come into force across the whole of the UK, which will make it a legal requirement for all birds to be housed – either in sheds, coops or self-contained netted areas which wild birds cannot fly into. 

The new restrictions are being brought in to keep poultry separate from potentially infectious wild birds. They will apply to all bird keepers – from large commercial operations to backyard flocks with just a few hens in a garden.

“We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds. Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer

More details of the new restrictions are available on the national GOV.UK website

Bird keepers and members of the public are being asked to report any dead wild birds to the DEFRA helpline on: 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to Animal and Plant Health Agency on: 03000 200 301

Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. 

The Control Zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review.

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