Avian Influenza (bird flu)
Last winter, the H5N8 strain of bird flu was found in 13 kept flocks in the UK- ranging in size from as few as nine to as many as 65,000 birds. There has been in a decline in the number of new cases over the summer, but the disease is still circulating in kept poultry across Europe, with Italy the most recent country to suffer a series of outbreaks. It has also been confirmed in a dead mute swan in Norfolk as recently as July. Given the recent outbreaks in wild birds in the UK and on the continent, there is every likelihood the disease will return to the UK this winter. Last year’s outbreak in the UK was believed to have been transmitted via migratory wild birds, which means keepers need to be aware of the danger of contact between wild and kept birds.
This form of bird flu is not a significant risk to human health and there is no evidence of the disease in the Isle of Man. However, DEFA is advising that it would be sensible for Isle of Man poultry keepers to take reasonable precautions to reduce the risk to domestic birds by preventing or reducing as much as possible, contact with wild birds.
The advice includes:
- Keep all feed bins covered to prevent access by wild birds
- Do not encourage wild birds to feed or drink with domestic poultry
- In the case of turkeys, close off any outdoor runs in the short period before Christmas
- Anyone who feeds, handles, or contacts wild birds should change their clothing and disinfect before entering any domestic bird enclosure – if alternative personnel can be used, this would be best
- Ensure bird houses are secure and wild birds cannot enter, and rodent control programmes are kept up to date.
The latest DEFRA information on Avian Influenza.
If you find single or multiple large dead birds e.g. goose / swan or multiple smaller dead birds, (6+ in one location) and they’re freshly dead, we would be grateful if could contact:
You will be asked for details of your finding and its location.
If the bird is a single, small garden bird or wild bird then you do not need to contact DEFA. You should leave it alone, or follow the guidelines below for disposal.
Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people and some simple hygiene precautions should minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds and the following simple steps are also effective against avian influenza.
If you have to move a dead bird
Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands
If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available see 7)
Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak-proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag.
Tie the bag and place it inside a second plastic bag.
Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household refuse bin.
Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in the plastic bag.
Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.
Domestic Poultry - Help protect your birds from the risk of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
- Keep bird feed and any standing drinking water free from contamination by wild birds and other animals. This might mean feeding and watering undercover.
- Make sure your premises are tidy and clean. Spilled feed, litter and standing water attract wild birds and vermin.
- Keep your birds separate from wild birds, waterfowl, pets and other animals. Control vermin.
- Keep visitors and their vehicles away from your birds as far as possible. If they must have access, make sure vehicles and equipment are clean.
- Make sure your clothes, footwear and hands are clean, before and after contact with birds. Any essential visitors should do the same.
- Avoid sharing equipment. If you do have to share, make sure it is cleansed and disinfected before and after use.
- Buy feed from a mill or supplier that operates in accordance with Defra and Agricultural Industries Confederation Codes of Practice. Supply clean, fresh drinking water.
- Be vigilant when purchasing new stock. Use reputable sources. Isolate new birds and birds you have taken off your premises (for example, to a show).
- If you suspect disease, act quickly and consult your vet. Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease are notifiable disease and must be reported to the Chief Veterinary Officer of DEFA Agriculture, contact details below.
Good biosecurity is vital.
Many diseases, not only Avian Influenza but also others like Newcastle Disease, Salmonella and Campylobacter are spread by direct bird-to-bird contact through secretions and faeces, and indirectly through contaminated feed, water, equipment, boots etc. If in doubt about what to do, seek advice from your vet.
For further information visit the Defra website.
If you keep domestic poultry and would like a copy of the leaflet 'Advice to Poultry Keepers' - please contact: