The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed to bring in new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza (Bird flu) following a number of confirmed cases across Great Britain in recent weeks.
The new housing measures, which come into force today (Monday 29 November), mean that it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.
Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months can carry the disease and this can lead to cases in poultry and other captive birds.
Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities, Cllr Alison Rolf, said: “I would like to remind all Solihull residents who keep birds – whether on a large scale like farmers or just a few chickens in a back garden – that new measures for housing and looking after your birds come into force today. Please read the guidance from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and ensure that you follow it. Enforcement of these measures is carried out by our Trading Standards Officers, working closely with APHA.”
The introduction of housing measures means that from 29 November, in addition to housing all poultry and captive birds, keepers must continue taking extra precautions to keep their flocks safe. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles when entering or exiting sites and limiting access to non-essential workers or visitors.
The Chief Veterinary Officers from across all four nations have worked together to introduce the new housing measures at the same time, meaning that the restrictions apply across the whole of the UK. The new housing measures will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks.
Bird keepers should ensure they understand the new housing measures and are compliant. More information can be found at - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find. If you find dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
Avian influenza is not connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry or captive birds.