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Bird keepers reminded of risk of avian flu

Written by on 23 November 2020

People who keep birds and poultry are being reminded to be aware of the risk of bird flu.

Staffordshire County Council’s Animal Health team is reminding birdkeepers to remain alert for any signs of the disease and to report suspected cases immediately. People should also ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises and follow all official guidance.

Wild birds migrating from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread Avian influenza to poultry and other captive birds.

The risk to public health from the virus remains very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that the disease poses a very low food safety risk.

The reminder follows the introduction of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across the country on 11 November 2020.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Animal Health at Staffordshire County Council said: “At this time of year, when birds are migrating, we usually see an increase in the risk of avian flu which is why we are asking birdkeepers to be aware.

“There have never been any confirmed cases of H5N8 in humans and the risk of Avian influenza to public health is considered very low.

“There are measures that poultry keepers need to follow to help protect their birds., So, whether it’s a large commercial farm, a few hens in a back garden, or rearing game birds, I would ask people to follow the official advice.”

The prevention zone means bird keepers across the country must:

  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;
  • Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.

Further information on how to help prevent the spread of the disease can be found at http://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu