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Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Updates

Update 5th April 2017

The Protection/Surveillance zones around Wyre, Redgrave and Haltwhistle have been lifted.

THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO SURVEILLANCE/PROTECTION ZONES IN FORCE IN THE UK.

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Update from the General Manager 20th March 2017

AVIAN INFLUENZA AND PIGEONS – EXERCISING, SHOWING, SALES, TRAINING AND RACING 

The following guidance provides clarity for pigeon fanciers on the implications of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For those fanciers whose pigeons are kept outside of the Protection / Surveillance Zones (10km zones around HPAI outbreaks):

You are able to take part in all pigeon gatherings such as shows, sales, training and racing whilst adhering to the requirements of the general licence, as well as the enhanced biosecurity requirements in place across the UK as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone – Please refer to the RPRA website for the general licence requirements. You can exercise your birds as normal.

For those fanciers that house pigeons within the Protection / Surveillance Zone (10km zones around HPAI outbreaks).

If you live within a 10km Surveillance Zone around an outbreak you can still exercise your pigeons around the loft but you are unable to take part in any gatherings, i.e. shows, sales, training or racing until the restrictions within these zones have been lifted.

There is currently one avian influenza Protection / Surveillance Zone remaining at Haltwhistle, Northumberland which has the above stated restrictions. (Those at Wyre and Redgrave have been lifted.) The restriction at Haltwhistle is due to be lifted before the end of March, provided there is no further disease found within the zones. Any new outbreaks are likely to result in new Protection and Surveillance Zones being put in place. 

To establish if your lofts/pigeons are housed within these 10km zones please refer to the interactive map located on the DEFRA website 

Ian Evans
General Manager

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Update from the General Manager on 15th February 2017

In relation to bird flu the general advice to members hasn’t changed since the initial statement in December i.e. you can still let your birds out for exercise. However, there is still confusion over whether this can take place within the 10km zone around confirmed outbreaks. Despite my best efforts I have been unable to get clarification in this respect from DEFRA – I emailed a senior member of DEFRA again yesterday requesting clarification. In the meantime the link below will be of help in identifying whether lofts fall within the 10km prevention zones.

Details of the zones can be found on the interactive map 

As soon as clarification is received in respect of the 10km zones this website will be updated.

Ian Evans
General Manager

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Advice in Scotland

The Scottish Government issued a press release on 9th February 2017 notifying bird keepers that the Avian Influenza (AI) Prevention Zone will remain in force until at least the end of April 2017. However, from 28 February the requirements of the zone will change, meaning that keepers may let their birds out provided that they have enhanced biosecurity measures in place.

They state: “An AI Prevention Zone was first declared from 6 December 2016, and was renewed on 4 January 2017 to last until 28 February. The current zone, which continues to have effect, requires all poultry and captive bird keepers to apply heightened biosecurity including keeping their birds indoors if possible, or otherwise separated from wild birds.

“Since the Zone was first declared the risk level for Avian Influenza incursions into the UK has been raised to ‘low to medium’ for poultry or captive birds, and ‘high’ for wild birds. Eight cases of H5N8 have been confirmed in domestic birds in England and Wales, as well as wild birds across the UK including a peregrine falcon found in Dumfries and Galloway in December 2016.

“In light of the continuing risk across the UK and Europe, Scottish Ministers have decided that a further zone should be declared lasting until the end of April. However, following discussions with industry stakeholders and their representatives, it has been agreed that, based on current risk levels, it would be proportionate to amend the zone from 28 February to allow some birds to be let out under enhanced biosecurity measures, to protect our vital poultry industry while still minimising disease risk. Keepers will still have the option to house their birds – for many this will continue to be the easiest way to protect them from AI. However, there are steps that keepers should consider taking now in order to make their range unattractive to wild birds for the remaining days in February – it is vital that these activities start as soon as possible:
• Make your birds’ range unattractive to wild birds:
• Net ponds and drain waterlogged areas of land. If this isn’t possible, then can you fence them off from your birds so they cannot access it whilst ranging, or use an alternative paddock that doesn’t have access to water
• Remove any feeders and water stations from the range, or ensure that they are covered to sufficiently restrict access by wild birds
• Consider using decoy predators or other livestock (such as sheep or cattle) on the range, or allowing dogs to accompany you on foot patrols around the range. You could also consider bird scarers if their use is appropriate for the area (see NFU Code of Practice on bird scarers).

“Further information is available at www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza. The ban on gatherings of poultry, game birds and waterfowl also remains in force.

“Bird keepers in Scotland are reminded of the importance of excellent biosecurity and anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Animal Plant & Health Agency office. Contact details can be found here” 

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Advice from DEFRA on Shows and Sales

“As you are aware, the gathering of birds for a sale or show is permitted under the specific terms and conditions of a Defra General Licence.

In the light of the current risk of avian influenza (Bird flu), on 20th December 2016, the terms of the General Licence were amended to ban the gathering of poultry including chicken, geese, ducks, pheasants, turkeys and guinea fowl – they are not permitted under the amended general licence.

However, pigeons and cage birds e.g. canaries, budgies and finches, are considered lower risk, therefore gatherings of these birds are currently still permitted, providing the terms of the General Licence are adhered to.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SITUATION MIGHT CHANGE

The General Licence and information about it can be viewed at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bird-gatherings-licences

The terms and conditions that must be adhered to are summarised below:
1) The Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) must be notified of the gathering at least 7 days prior to the sale date, including the following details:
a) Details of the licencee (organiser) – full name, contact address and telephone number)
b) Date & time of the gathering
c) Location of the gathering
d) Anticipated numbers and type of birds.

2) A contingency plan, for use if avian notifiable disease is suspected, must be available for inspection, and should contain the following details:
i) Name and contact details of a nominated veterinary surgeon who should be available to attend should it be necessary.
ii) A description of the isolation facilities available.
iii) A plan of action in the event of suspected disease.
An example contingency plan template is attached here

3) All cages, crates, baskets or other containers must be cleansed and disinfected prior to them being brought to the sale, ensuring that they are free from droppings, bedding etc.

4) Any spillages of litter or droppings must be cleaned up and disinfected using a disinfectant approved for on the Defra approved disinfectant list
The disinfectant must be approved for and used as specified in column iii for Poultry and Avian Influenza Orders.
Bin bags and a spray bottle of the disinfectant (freshly made up & labelled) must be available at all times whilst the birds are present.

5) A record of all birds at the gathering must be made and kept for at least 3 months after the show. The record should detail the following:
i) Bird identification & description
ii) Full name of owner/vendor/purchaser
iii) Home address of owner/vendor/purchaser
iv) Contact telephone number.

6) Written biosecurity advice must be given to all those bringing or purchasing birds at the gathering, stating that the bird(s) should be isolated from any other birds (except those attending the same event) for at least 7 days and any signs of ill health observed in the purchased bird(s) during this period must be reported to a veterinary surgeon and such birds must not be mixed with any other birds until the presence of an avian notifiable disease has been ruled out.

7) All bedding, droppings and leftover feed must be securely bagged for disposal and any contaminated areas disinfected.

Sales and shows may be subject to inspection.
Please ensure that all relevant documents and disinfectants are readily available and in use at all sales.
Please note that non-compliance may constitute an offence under the Avian Influenza (Protective Measures) Regulations 2006 and the Animal Health Act 1981 and render the offender liable to three months in prison and/or a £5000 fine on conviction.”

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The following update refers to Northern Ireland specifically (see the DAERA website). For updates regarding the position within England, Scotland and Wales please see the paragraphs further down the page:

Movements into Northern Ireland

All general licences relating to the movement into Northern Ireland of poultry, day old chicks, hatchi

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