Bird flu prevention zone declared across whole of England

A bird flu prevention zone has been declared across the whole of England. Picture: DEFRA

A bird flu prevention zone has been declared across the whole of England. Picture: DEFRA - Credit: Archant

A bird flu prevention zone has been declared across the whole of England after the disease was found in wild birds in Warwickshire.

Although there are no plans to carry out any culls or put movement restrictions in place, bird keepers will have to follow strict biosecurity measures as a precautionary measure.

It comes as 13 dead wild birds were confirmed to have the virus in Warwickshire following the discovery of the disease last week in 17 birds in Dorset, where 31 infected birds have now been confirmed.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the latest results show the disease is not isolated to a single site the decision has been taken to extend the prevention zone across the country.

Testing of the birds found in Warwickshire is ongoing, however, it is highly expected that this will be the same H5N6 strain of the virus which has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months.

Public Health England have advised the risk to public health remains very low and the Food Standards Agency have said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: “Following the latest finding of bird flu in wild birds in Warwickshire, we are extending our action to help prevent the virus spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.

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“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 virus.”

Bird keepers are legally bound to abide by a number of preventative measures, including removing wild bird food sources, netting ponds, feeding their own birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds, minimising movements in and out of bird enclosures, and cleaning and disinfecting footwear and concrete areas.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take some extra biosecurity measures including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.

The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review, DEFRA said.