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Advice for bird keepers in Norfolk amid avian influenza (Bird Flu) outbreaks

Norfolk County Council, 14 October 2022 00:00

There have been several outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus in Norfolk. Mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex are to be introduced from 00:01 on 12 October 2022, following a decision by the UKs Chief Veterinary Officer.

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, regardless of type or size.

Norfolk Trading Standards will be working with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to support businesses and minimise the risk of disease spreading further.

The UK Health Security Agency has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public's health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has said that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk, and that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, such as eggs, are safe to eat.

The measures that APHA require people keeping birds to take to reduce the risk of spreading the disease are:

  • Housing all poultry and captive birds (including birds kept as pets)
  • 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 litter, manure, slurry, and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • Keep records of all deaths, movement of poultry and poultry products and any changes in production
  • Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a regular basis
  • Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points. Foot dips should be covered to stop disinfectant getting diluted
  • 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
  • Prevent access by poultry to ponds and watercourses and ensure that birds are kept in fenced or enclosed areas

The public are advised to keep to designated footpaths, not to feed wild birds, and keep dogs on leads. Don't touch sick or dead birds, their feathers, or their droppings. If you see a dead bird, please report it to Defra's helpline on 03459 335577. Sick birds should be reported RSPCA (0300 1234 999) who, dependent on the situation, may be able to offer assistance.

Cllr Fabian Eagle, member champion for the rural economy, said: "Avian Influenza is not just a disease of farmed poultry, it can infect many species of wild birds as well. If we want to see any type of birds in our countryside and coastline, please clean and disinfect your footwear. Norfolk is renowned as a farming and birdlife county, so let's keep it that way."

Christine Middlemiss, the UKs Chief Veterinary Officer, 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."

Information regarding the latest situation can be found via the GOV.UK website.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:44

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