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Bird Flu Updates

Bird Gatherings

  • Changes to the bird gatherings licenses have been made in Wales and gatherings of Galliformes are now permitted providing they meet all the requirements of the poultry gatherings general license in Wales.
  • Following changes to the poultry gatherings general licence in Wales, Galliforme birds from premises located in Wales can now attend poultry gatherings in England, provided they and the gathering follow and meet all the requirements of the poultry gathering general licence for England.
  • Galliforme birds from premises located in Scotland have been permitted to attend Galliforme gatherings in England since the 5 February 2024.
  • Galliforme birds include chickens, turkeys, pheasants, partridge, quail and guinea fowl.
  • Read our guidance on holding a bird gathering under a general licence for further information.

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15/02/24: New Case in England

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 14 February 2024 at a premises near Hutton Cranswick, East Yorkshire, Yorkshire (AIV 2024/01). A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been declared around the premises.

Risk Levels

The risk of incursion of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in wild birds in GB is currently assessed as medium (i.e. event occurs regularly).

The risk of poultry exposure to HPAI H5 in GB is currently assessed as:

  • low (i.e., event is rare but does occur) (with medium uncertainty) where there is suboptimal biosecurity.
  • low (i.e. event is rare but does occur) (with low uncertainty) where stringent biosecurity is applied.

While we are seeing a lower number of cases in poultry compared to this time last year, and have seen fewer detections in wild birds than in previous years, the virus is still circulating in wild birds in Great Britain and all bird keepers should remain vigilant for signs of disease.

Interactive Map

Fanciers can check where disease control zones are located in GB and if they are in a zone on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) interactive map, and in Northern Ireland on DAERA’s interactive map.

High standards of biosecurity must be maintained by all fanciers as good practice for the health and welfare of their birds. Good biosecurity is an essential defence against diseases such as avian influenza and is key to limiting the spread of avian influenza in an outbreak. See this page for the specific rules which apply to pigeon fanciers.

For further information on cases, and details of the measures that apply in the disease control zones currently in force, click on the appropriate country below:

To receive immediate notification of new cases and updated zones in Britain, fanciers can sign up to the APHA’s Animal Disease alert subscription service – further details can be found here.

Outbreak Case Summary

In summary, 6 cases of avian influenza have been confirmed in the UK since 1 October 2023:

  • England: 4 cases of HPAI H5N1
  • Scotland: 2 cases of HPAI H5N1
  • Wales: 0 cases of HPAI H5N1
  • Northern Ireland: 0 cases of HPAI H5N1

There have been 371 cases of H5N1 in the UK since the outbreak started in October 2021. This is by far the largest ever UK outbreak of avian influenza (prior to this the largest number of cases was 26 cases in 2020/2021 and 13 cases in 2016/2017).

Fanciers must keep a close watch on their birds for any signs of disease, and seek prompt advice from a vet if they have any concerns. Clinical signs indicative of avian influenza must be reported in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact to the local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

The Avian Influenza Code of Practice, based on the legal requirements and agreed with the APHA, may be downloaded here. Every member and organisation should read the document, as it will provide clarity in respect of what can be done if your loft is situated within a disease control area.

[Individual case updates before this date have been removed to keep the length of this article down. To see the latest active zones in England, refer to the the APHA’s interactive map and case list.]

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23/08/23: Changes to Permitted Bird Gatherings in England

  • Bird gatherings include events where live birds and/or hatching eggs from multiple premises are bought together and remaining at the gathering location for 14 days or less in England and 13 days or less in Wales and Scotland, following the arrival of the last bird.
  • Bird gatherings include (but are not limited to) bird fairs, markets, shows, sales, exhibitions, and some premises used for dealing or internet sales. In addition, vehicles used to transport live birds where the birds are brought together from multiple premises (so called many-to-one or many-to-many activities) are also considered bird gatherings.
  • The risk of introduction and spread of HPAI H5N1 into bird fairs, shows, markets, sales and other gatherings in Great Britain has recently been reviewed and has been reassessed as now LOW for Columbiformes (including racing and show pigeons).
  • Further information on the evidence that supports these risk levels can be found in our qualitative risk assessment on the likelihood of spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 associated with bird fairs, shows, markets, sales and other gatherings in Great Britain available as part of the ‘Animal diseases: international and UK monitoring’ collection on gov.uk.
  • Bird gatherings are not permitted within a disease control zone, outside of these areas bird gatherings are only permitted if licensed. General licences permitting certain bird gatherings have been made available in England, Wales and Scotland.

In England, following a reduction in the risk levels associated with gatherings, from 23 August 2023:

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04/07/23: Avian Influenza Prevention Zones lifted

The risk of avian influenza for all poultry has reduced to low (meaning the event is rare but does occur) and the avian influenza prevention zones for poultry and captive birds in EnglandWales and Scotland have been lifted from midday on 4 July 2023.

Whilst the risk level in kept birds has reduced, the risk in wild birds remains high and all bird keepers should continue to take steps to prevent bird flu and stop it spreading at all times and be vigilant for signs of disease.

Additional mandatory restrictions apply in disease control zones in force surrounding infected premises where avian influenza has been confirmed in poultry or other captive birds. 

 

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