DEFRA has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in the southwest of England following a spate of new cases in the region.

The regional AIPZ comes just two weeks after the GB-wide AIPZ was lifted by authorities after the risk of AI incursion into poultry farms was deemed lower.

See also: Defra publishes new avian influenza in wild birds risk mitigation strategy

The new order came into force from 12 pm on 31 August and makes higher biosecurity a legal requirement.

It does not include a requirement to house birds.

Backyard owners with small numbers of poultry, including chickens, ducks and geese, must take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.

Restrict acccess

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 to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

There have been several cases in both commercial poultry and captive birds across Cornwall, Devon and parts of Somerset in August, with three confirmed between 26 and 29 August.

Take action now

The UK’s deputy chief veterinary officer Richard Irvine said: “Following a number of detections of avian influenza, we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across Cornwall, Devon and parts of Somerset.

“This means that all bird keepers in the region must take action now to both prevent disease getting into flocks and it spreading any further.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding.

“It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”