New H5N1 strain of avian influenza confirmed in flock of gamebirds in Scotland

A flock of kept birds on a gamebird rearing premises in Leven, Glenrothes, has tested positive for avian influenza of the H5N1 strain.

In order to limit the further spread of disease, appropriate restrictions have been imposed on the premises.

The remaining birds at the premises will be humanely culled and 3km and 10km temporary control zones have been set up around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease.

Within these zones a range of different controls are now in place. These include restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure.

Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.

Producers and bird keepers are reminded to comply with the order to house birds that came in to effect on December 14, 2020, or ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and follow biosecurity procedures.

‘The Scotland-wide AIPZ remains in force’

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Ben Macpherson said:

“The Scotland-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) remains in force.

Whether you have just a few birds or thousands of birds, you are legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

“We continue to ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds.”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said:

“We are conducting further tests to establish the pathogenicity of avian influenza H5N1 in a flock of birds in Leven, Glenrothes.

“We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch to protect their birds from disease and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds.

Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to provide practical advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.

“Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, falcons or other birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, should be reported to the Defra dead wild bird helpline,” she concluded.