DEFRA Updates Avian Influenza Risk Assessment
On the 22nd January, DEFRA updated its avian influenza risk assessment when identical strains of the virus (H5N6) were found in dead wild birds at sites in Warwickshire and Hertfordshire. H5N6 was found among wild birds in Dorset earlier in the month, with the same strain circulating in wild birds across Europe for the past few months.
Please be aware that since 18th January, a bird flu prevention zone has been declared across the whole of England, Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens confirmed. The result of this is that anybody with captive birds and any gamekeepers with captive wintering flocks must follow strict biosecurity measures. Any biosecurity advice that is needed, including how to spot bird flu, can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
With regards to those with released game, The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation states online that, “Defra advises those with released game to continue to feed and water these gamebirds, but to make reasonable efforts to minimise the chance of other wild birds accessing their feed and water, for example by placing it under cover.”
They continued, “Please note that shooting is not restricted, but the NGO would however urge shooting interests in the vicinity of specific bird flu outbreaks to act appropriately and consider fully the implications of their actions at this time”.
Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens, on the DEFRA website, added that “Following the latest finding of bird flu in wild birds in Warwickshire, we are extending our action plan to help prevent the virus spreading to poultry and other domestic birds,
“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 flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.