All members should make themselves aware of the new General Licences for 2023 - view here
Bird flu and Gamebirds: revised guidance issued
The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) and ban on poultry gatherings is due to be lifted from 12:00 noon on Saturday 15 May 2021.
The mandatory biosecurity measures contained in the AIPZ and the ban on poultry gatherings, which were introduced across Great Britain in November, have been vital tools in protecting flocks across the country, by helping to contain the disease that is circulating in wild birds.
The most recent risk assessment of bird flu in poultry with good biosecurity has now reduced the risk to ‘low’ for all poultry and, as a result, the mandatory enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the AIPZ on 11 November, and the additional biosecurity measures introduced on 31 March, are due to be lifted from 12:00 noon on 15 May. All poultry and bird gatherings, including pigeon gatherings organised for races from mainland Europe will also be permitted from 12:00 noon on 15 May, provided organisers comply with the provisions of the new general licence (new licence will be published 12:00 noon 15 May).
Good biosecurity is still the most effective measure of disease control available, and whilst the risk of avian influenza has reduced, low risk does not mean no risk and high standards of biosecurity remain important, as infection may still be present in the environment. While it is essential to ensure effective biosecurity when there is an increased risk of bird flu, bird keepers are strongly advised to apply high standards of biosecurity measures at all times to prevent and mitigate future disease outbreaks.
Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the H5N8 virus strain is low and from the H5N2, H5N5 and H5N1 virus strains is very low. Food standards bodies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products, including eggs.
Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their private vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:
- Fencing off ponds, streams, boggy areas or standing water and draining them where possible
- Netting or covering ponds
- Removing any wild bird feed sources
- Deterring wild birds by regularly walking through the area or by using predator decoys
- Cleansing and disinfecting concrete or other permeable areas
- Putting down wood shavings in wet areas
- Limiting the number of people who come onto the site
- Using government approved disinfectant foot dips when entering and exiting enclosures or houses
From 12:00 noon 15 May 2021, all bird gatherings can take place in GB provided you notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) at least 7 days before the event and you meet the requirements of the bird gatherings general licence (new licence will be published 12 noon 15 May).
Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should continue to report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers should report suspicion of disease to their APHA Local Field Service Office.
Avian influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry.
For more advice and regular updates on the latest situation, visit www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza
Food safety advice for cooking poultry and eggs remains unchanged. See NHS advice on safe cooking of eggs and poultry.
A report (updated regularly) on findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds in Great Britain is available here.
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