Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Bird flu outbreak is the biggest ever and poultry keepers must do more to keep it out says the government's chief vet



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


Bird keepers are being told to take all the action they can to keep flocks safe as the UK grapples with its largest ever avian flu outbreak.

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss says those keeping poultry or birds must make sure they are following all the biosecurity rules in place to try and slow the spread of the disease this winter.

There have been 60 confirmed instances since November
There have been 60 confirmed instances since November

The country is facing its largest ever outbreak with 60 cases now confirmed across the UK since the start of November.

To help try and control the spread of disease the government introduced new housing measures last month which means anyone keeping chickens, ducks, geese or any other birds must now keep them indoors by law. This is to ensure wild birds migrating to the UK for the winter months, which often carry bird flu, do not mix with captive chickens, ducks, geese or other birds and spread the infection.

There are also requirements for keepers to disinfect clothing and footwear, which can also transport the virus into enclosures.

Defra says avian flu occurs naturally in wild birds
Defra says avian flu occurs naturally in wild birds

The UK's Chief Veterinary Officer believes that while the main source of infection comes from migratory wild birds, those failing to implement these measures risk infecting their own flocks, she says, by walking the virus into holdings.

Christine Middlemiss said: "We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease including introducing housing measures. However we are seeing a growing number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country.

"Many poultry keepers have excellent biosecurity standards but the number of cases we are seeing suggests that not enough is being done to keep bird flu out. Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands you must take action now to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

"Implementing scrupulous biosecurity has never been more critical. You must regularly clean and disinfect your footwear and clothes before entering enclosures, stop your birds mixing with any wild birds and only allow visitors that are strictly necessary. It is your actions that will help keep your birds safe."

People who keep chickens must follow strict rules by law to help prevent the spread of the disease. Picture: iStock.
People who keep chickens must follow strict rules by law to help prevent the spread of the disease. Picture: iStock.

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 or captive birds.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from avian flu is low and poultry remains safe to eat - however people are being told to not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that they find while out walking and instead report them to the dedicated helpline by calling 03459 33 55 77.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More