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Prevention zone in place in response to Avian Flu cases

Date Published: 16 November 2020

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been put in place across the whole of England following a number of confirmed cases among wild and commercial birds.

The AIPZ was announced on Wednesday 11 November and means it is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures. 

Keepers with more than 500 birds must restrict access for non-essential people on their sites. Workers must also change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry, including chickens, ducks and geese, are also urged to strengthen their biosecurity measures in order to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK.

The introduction of the AIPZ comes after two separate, unrelated cases in kept poultry and birds confirmed in England last week (Kent and Cheshire), followed by a third case of H5N8 avian flu in captive birds at a farm in Herefordshire. A small number of wild birds in South West of England have also been found to have had the disease.

The introduction of a prevention zone follows a decision to raise the risk level for avian influenza incursion in wild Birds in Great Britain from ‘medium’ to ‘high’ last week.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low.

“I have declared a national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone legislating for actions all bird keepers must take to help prevent the disease spreading to more poultry and other domestic birds. Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements and this is in your interests to do, to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer

The national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone means that bird keepers all across the country must:

  • 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 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

Bird keepers should see the AIPZ declaration on GOV.UK for full details of which measures apply in the AIPZ. Updated biosecurity guidance for all bird keepers is also available on GOV.UK.

“This is a time of year when the risk of Avian Influenza spreading among wild and commercial flocks is greatly increased due to bird migration. While there have not been any cases found in Rutland, it’s important that anyone with flocks of kept birds – large or small – adheres to the requirements of the national prevention zone.”
Councillor Lucy Stephenson, Cabinet Member for the Environment

The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of our work to monitor the threat of bird flu.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on: 03459 33 55 77.

Keepers should report any suspicion of disease to APHA on: 03000 200 301

Further Avian Influenza guidance for  bird keepers and members of the public can be found online.

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