There was widespread coverage this morning following a decision from the UK’s Chief Vet yesterday to declare an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading. The news was covered on Sky News, BBC News Online and in the Metro and Telegraph as well as across regional media.
The introduction of the AIPZ comes after two separate, unrelated cases in kept poultry and birds confirmed in England last week and a third case of H5N8 avian flu in captive birds was confirmed today at a broiler breeder farm in Herefordshire. A very small number of wild birds in South West of England have also been found to have had the disease.
The introduction of a prevention zone follows a decision to raise the risk level for avian influenza incursion in wild Birds in Great Britain from ‘medium’ to ‘high’ last week.
This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures. Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:
I have today (11 November) declared a national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) legislating for actions all bird keepers must take to help prevent the disease spreading to more poultry and other domestic birds.
Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements and this is in your interests to do, to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.
The UK Government has worked closely with Scottish and Welsh Governments to introduce national prevention zones at the same time, meaning that the restrictions will be applied across the whole of Great Britain.