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Bird keepers in Cambridgeshire required to take action to reduce avian flu risk as prevention zone comes into force in UK



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Bird keepers in Cambridgeshire are being urged to follow strict national measures after an avian flu prevention zone (AIPZ) was put in place across the UK.

Members of the public are also being asked to report any sightings of dead wild birds.
Members of the public are also being asked to report any sightings of dead wild birds.

Members of the public are also being asked to report any sightings of dead wild birds.

The move, says the government, comes after the disease was detected in both captive and wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales.

Avian flu, says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), circulates naturally in wild birds, but when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe over the winter they risk spreading the disease to poultry and other birds being kept in this country.

The zone, which aims to help stop the disease spreading, means that bird keepers are now legally required to take a number of precautions, whether they run commercial poultry businesses or have a small flock in their back garden.

The prevention zone means that all bird keepers must, among other things:

  • Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
  • 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 their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures;
  • Cleanse 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;
  • Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Keepers must now take a number of precautions to prevent further spread of bird flu, says Defra (52894739)
Keepers must now take a number of precautions to prevent further spread of bird flu, says Defra (52894739)

The detailed requirements can be found in the AIPZ Order itself, and to accompany this DEFRA have produced a detailed biosecurity guide and self-assessment checklist to help bird keepers put the requirements into practice.

Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s communities, social mobility and inclusion committee, said: “Although there haven't been any confirmed cases of bird flu locally as yet, it is really important that bird keepers across the county follow the measures put in place by the government, whether you just have a few chickens in your back garden or keep poultry commercially on a farm.

“It’s really important for us to help protect the livelihoods of our commercial bird keepers, as well as the health of birds kept as pets and the wild bird population, so we are asking everyone who looks after poultry to keep a close eye on them for any signs of disease and stay on top of their cleaning and working practises in line with the AIPZ requirements.

“I would like to stress that the risk to public health is very low, and properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are still safe to eat according to the Food Standards Agency.”

In a joint statement the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales said: “Following a number of detections of avian influenza in wild birds across Great Britain we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across the whole of Great Britain. This means that all bird keepers must take action now to prevent the disease spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.

Two swans in Stratford recently tested positive for avian flu
Two swans in Stratford recently tested positive for avian flu

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding.

“It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

All bird keepers are encouraged to register their poultry, even if only kept as pets, so the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can contact them during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.

Poultry keepers who have concerns about the health of their birds should contact their vet, and if they suspect disease amongst their birds they must report it immediately to the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

Members of the public are asked not to touch dead wild birds, but instead to report them to the DEFRA helpline (03459 33 55 77).

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