A REGIONAL housing order has been declared for Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex from 12 October. 

The housing order legally requires all bird keepers in these hotspots to keep their birds indoors and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease. 

See also: ‘Unprecedented’ summer for avian influenza across Europe

Defra has an interactive map that producers can use to check if they are in an affected area. A declaration, also linked to below, details measures that must now be taken in those regions. 

The Chief Veterinary Officer is encouraging all bird keepers in the affected regions to prepare for the next five days, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their private vet and expand housing where necessary.

The new housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity measures brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) last month, covering Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex. 

16 detections

The introduction of the housing measures comes after the disease was detected at 16 premises in the affected areas since the beginning of September, as well as several reports in wild birds. 

The AIPZ without housing measures remains in force in Cornwall, Devon, Isles of Scilly and parts of Somerset. 

The need to introduce mandatory housing measures as part of the AIPZ in force in the southwest or further national AIPZs with or without housing will be kept under regular review, Defra said. 

Risk to rise

The United Kingdom’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “We are seeing a growing number of bird flu cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and expect the risk to continue rise over the coming months as migratory birds return to the UK.

“We are now taking further action to help protect flocks from this highly infectious and devastating disease. 

“Keepers in these hotspots must continue to follow strict biosecurity standards to protect their flock, and should use the next few days to prepare and move their birds indoors.”

The housing measure means bird keepers in the affected area must:

  • House or net all poultry and captive birds.
  • Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing.
  • Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control.
  • Keep records of mortality, movement of poultry and poultry products and any changes in production.
  • Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing continuously.
  • Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points.
  • Minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.