Covid-19 Coronavirus

Avian Influenza (bird flu)

Update 26 November 2021

UK

The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds. The new housing measures will come into force across the UK from 00:01 on Monday 29 November 2021 to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza following a number of confirmed cases across Great Britain in recent weeks. More details can be found on gov.uk

The risk of poultry exposure to HPAI H5 across Great Britain has changed from medium (with medium uncertainty) to medium (with low uncertainty) where good biosecurity is applied, but has increased to high (with low uncertainty) where there are substantial biosecurity breaches and poor biosecurity. If, however, stringent biosecurity is in place the risk would be low for these premises. See Avian Influenza (bird flu) risk level (gov.uk).  

Isle of Man

At this time there are no such measures in force in the Isle of Man, but DEFA is strongly advising that the biosecurity measures outlined below are followed to help you protect your birds. The risk level to the Isle of Man is considered to be equivalent to that of Great Britain. More information can be found at Avian Influenza (bird flu) latest situation (gov.uk).

Avian Influenza Information

The UK health security agency has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to human health is very low. The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Avian influenza is unconnected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

The situation in Great Britain and Ireland has arisen due to the seasonal movement of migratory birds on their normal flight paths across Europe from the east to warmer places in Southern Europe and Northern Africa for overwintering. The main risk to poultry is from infected wild birds.

There is currently no evidence of the disease in the Isle of Man, however, due to the escalating situation in Great Britain and Ireland, DEFA is strongly advising 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.

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.

More details can be found at Avian Influenza (bird flu) (gov.uk).

Biosecurity Advice

  • keep free-ranging birds in fenced areas to minimise contact with wild birds, neighbouring poultry or captive birds

  • inspect outdoor areas, removing wild bird contaminants like faeces, feathers and wild bird carcases

  • fence off or put netting over areas of standing water or ponds

  • provide feed and water undercover, so wild birds can’t access it

  • make your premises unattractive to wild birds. Use bird scarers, foils or streamers

  • keep ducks and geese separate from other poultry

  • store bedding under cover to reduce the risk of contamination

  • clean and disinfect footwear before and after tending to your birds. If you own more than 50 birds, place foot dips containing government approved disinfectant at all entry and exit points

  • clean and disinfect hard surfaces regularly

  • clean and disinfect equipment and vehicles to avoid disease spread between premises

  • minimise the movement of people, vehicles and equipment to and from bird areas and keep records of movements

  • keep records of poultry, captive bird and egg movements

  • maintain buildings that house birds to prevent water ingress

  • ensure pest control is effective

For the latest Defra information, see Avian Influenza (bird flu) biosecurity (gov.uk).  

Dead birds

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:

Animal Health Team – Regulation Directorate

Telephone:+44 1624 685844

Email:Send Email

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

  1. Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands

  2. If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available see 7)

  3. Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak-proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag.

  4. Tie the bag and place it inside a second plastic bag.

  5. 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.

  6. Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

  7. 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.

  8. Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in the plastic bag.

  9. 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.

  10. Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.

If you keep domestic poultry and would like a copy of the leaflet 'Advice to Poultry Keepers' - please contact:

Animal Health Team – Regulation Directorate

Telephone:+44 1624 685844

Email:Send Email

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