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Avian Influenza

Published: 4 Jan 2017 15:01

Extension of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone announced on 6 December 2016 is to be extended until 28 February 2017, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The Prevention Zone applies to all poultry and captive birds in Scotland, and requires keepers to continue to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate practical steps to keep them separate from wild birds. There is also a GB-wide ban on poultry shows and gatherings.

All bird keepers must also take extra steps to ensure good biosecurity on their premises and minimise the risk of infection and further spread of Avian Influenza. Extra steps include:

  • making sure that your birds’ feed and water can’t be accessed by wild birds
  • avoiding transfer of contamination between premises by cleansing and disinfecting equipment, vehicles and footwear
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept
  • implementing effective vermin control around buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept
  • providing wash facilities or dips containing approved disinfectant (at the right concentration) at key points such as farm entrances and entrances to bird houses

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said:

“We have decided to extend the original Prevention Zone to 28 February as a precautionary measure to protect Scotland’s valuable poultry industry.

“Confirmation of the arrival of the virus throughout the UK, highlights how essential it is that bird keepers comply with the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, as well as continuing to practice and improve, where possible, their biosecurity measures.

“We and our partners continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to respond to any suspicion of disease in Scotland.

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said:

“Housing your birds is a precautionary step that can reduce the likelihood of infection, but it is absolutely vital that keepers take steps to improve their biosecurity to protect their birds from disease. The cleansing and disinfection of footwear, clothing or equipment after contact with birds is one example.

“Owners of backyard flocks and captive birds should also consider ways they can improve their biosecurity, as well as taking reasonable and practicable steps to separate their birds from wild birds.

“Bird keepers and members of the public should remain vigilant for signs of disease in domestic or wild birds. Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately.

“Expert advice remains that consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry and the threat to public health from the virus is very low.”

Background

  1. Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. 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 at http://www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/about-us/contact-us/field-services/
  2. More information about Avian Influenza - including biosecurity guidance - is available from the Scottish Government website www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza
  3. The H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza has been circulating in Europe for several weeks. Two cases in captive birds have been confirmed in UK;  in Lincolnshire on 16 December 2016, and in Carmarthenshire on 3 January 2017. The disease has also been found in wild birds in Wales, England and Scotland. The last Scottish Avian Influenza outbreak in captive birds was Low Pathogenic H5N1 in Dunfermline, January 2016. 
  4. A Prevention Zone lasting 31 days was declared on 6 December 2016. The extension comes into force on 6 January 2017, and runs until 28th February 2017. 
  5. Under the Prevention Zone, birds and eggs are still considered free range provided they meet all other requirements. Declaring a Prevention Zone means birds can be housed for up to 12 weeks and still maintain their free range status. The 12 week limit applies to individual birds or batches, not premises as a whole.
  6. As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are undertaken in incidents where any ‘at risk’ bird species (wildfowl or gulls), birds of prey or five or more birds of any other species, are found dead in the same location and at the same time.
  7. In the United Kingdom, members of the public are asked to report these incidents to Defra’s national helpline (email defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 03459 335577, Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm).