Chief veterinary officers for England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across the whole of Great Britain, following a number of identified cases in both captive and wild birds this week.

Under the AIPZ, as of 5:00p.m yesterday (Wednesday, November 3), all bird keepers in Great Britain must legally follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flock from avian influenza (avian flu) - commonly known as bird flu.

The biosecurity measures bird keepers must take are as follows:

  • Keeping domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
  • Ensuring the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feeding and watering their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimising movement into and out of bird enclosures;
  • Cleansing and disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy;
  • Reducing any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas;
  • Keeping free-ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).

Keepers with over 500 birds must also 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.

These measures also apply to ‘backyard owners’ with smaller numbers of poultry, including chickens, ducks and geese.

“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,” chief veterinary officers for England, Scotland and Wales said in a joint statement.

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

The avian flu is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed form animals to humans, however the current risk of this is low, the statement added.

“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.”