As Great Britain continues to battle avian influenza, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across the country, starting midday on Monday 17th October.
The move by the Chief Veterinary Officers, follows a worrying increase in the confirmed number of cases of avian influenza on commercial premises and in wild birds.
The UK is still facing the largest outbreak of avian influenza on record, with over 190 cases being confirmed since late October 2021, of which, more than 40 have been confirmed within the last 17 days.
The East of England, which has been particularly affected by the outbreak, has been subject to additional preventative measures, including a regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and a housing order.
And, it is not just captive birds and poultry being affected. Avian influenza continues to be detected in a significant number of seabirds and breeding colonies, including the Great Skua, also known as the bonxie and threatened species, like puffins and hen harriers. High mortality has been confirmed in all of these scenarios.
As we head towards winter, the risk to flocks increases exponentially, as officials say that avian influenza circulates in wild birds as migratory birds return to the UK.
In a joint statement, the Chief Veterinary Officers said “Bird keepers have faced the largest ever outbreak of avian flu this year and with winter brings an even more increased risk to flocks as migratory birds return to the United Kingdom.
“Scrupulous biosecurity and hygiene measures is the best form of defence, which is why we have declared an avian influenza prevention zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain, meaning that all bird keepers must take action to help prevent the disease spreading to more poultry and other domestic birds.
“The introduction of an AIPZ means regardless of whether you keep a few birds or thousands, you are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
The AIPZ does not include a mandatory housing order, but this is being kept under review as a potential measure. Last year, the housing order was declared for 00:01am on the 29th November 2021.
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View our avian influenza outbreak timeline here.