AN Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), making biosecurity a legal requirement, has been declared in England, Scotland and Wales.
It comes as a third case of H5N1 avian influenza was confirmed in poultry in the Angus constituency, Scotland.
See also: Defra’s latest risk assessment
It is suspected to be highly pathogenic, as were the previous two cases in backyard poultry in Wrexham and a wild bird rescue centre in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
There have also been several wild birds found with H5N1 across the UK and more cases on commercial farms in Europe.
The AIPZ means that from 5 pm on Wednesday 3 November, it will be a legal requirement for all poultry farmers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.
Defra said a requirement to house birds was not in place, but that decision would be kept under ‘constant review’.
Producers with more than 500 birds will now 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.
The risk to public health from the virus remains very low.
‘Take action now’
In a joint statement, the chief veterinary officers for England, Scotland and Wales said: “Following a number of detections of avian influenza in wild birds across Great Britain, we have declared an AIPZ across the whole of Great Britain.
“This means that all bird keepers must take action now to prevent the disease spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or smallholding.
Highly infectious disease
It is in your interest to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.
“The UK health agencies have confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and UK food standards agencies advise that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.”
The introduction of an AIPZ follows a decision to raise the risk level for avian influenza incursion in wild birds in Great Britain from ‘medium’ to ‘high’.
For poultry and captive birds, the risk level has been raised from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ at premises where biosecurity is below the required standards but remains ‘low’ where stringent biosecurity measures are applied.
A comprehensive summary can be found on the Defra website.