Biosecurity more critical than ever as Britain battles record AI outbreak
The largest outbreak of Avian Influenza on record has been confirmed in Britain this week. On the 9th December, George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, confirmed that there were 36 cases of AI across the UK, however at the time of writing, there were 50 confirmed cases of AI across the UK.
The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Christine Middlemiss, is leading the government response but says that the disease outbreak is now at a “phenomenal level”. Of particular concern is the fact that the migratory season has only just begun and will continue into March 2022, creating additional potential for infection as migratory birds believed to be carrying the disease fly from Eastern Europe and northern Russia.
Biosecurity is key
She said that the heightened biosecurity measures introduced on 3rd November and extended on 29th November will need to be maintained until the close of the migration season to limit the potential for infection.
The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone now requires all birds in captivity to remain indoors. In spaces where stringent biosecurity measures are not already in place, this could create the potential for outbreaks to spread quickly amongst flocks, especially if housing is not adequately maintained.
The Prevention Zone also calls for enhanced cleansing and disinfection to take place, enhanced record keeping and restrictions on movement to be observed for non-essential visitors and vehicles to premises housing poultry and other captive birds.
Dr Middlemiss confirms that scientists don’t yet have a full understanding of the outbreak, saying “There are a large number of outbreaks across the EU happening. This is a different strain to last year. We do need to understand why we are seeing more year-on-year outbreaks, and understand what’s behind that. We can’t wait until another year and have an even bigger outbreak. So, we will be working not just with our own scientists but internationally, to understand more of what we can do about what’s behind it.”
Livetec can help you embed enhanced biosecurity into the heart of your farm operations
When AI is confirmed on-farm, there is an immediate and widespread impact to the farm, livestock and farm workers. It can be devastating to operations and seriously disrupt financial stability. In addition to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) potentially taking control of the farm, they will also impose stringent control measures and will only give the go-ahead to restock and resume business as usual when they are satisfied that depopulation, followed by extensive disinfection has taken place.
Having appropriate biosecurity measures in place, and the ability to ramp up those measures and respond quickly, is now more vital than ever. Dr Middlemiss describes biosecurity as “key” to protecting your flocks. It is the only way to be sure you are doing all you can to prevent disease incursion.
We understand that the level of the current outbreak is unprecedented. We’re here to help.
In addition to our bespoke emergency depopulation and safeguarding solutions, we can directly help you to improve biosecurity on your farm with a range of tailored services developed using all of our knowledge of disease outbreak and scientific research.
Our contingency plans are tailored to your exact circumstances, with the most up-to-date best practice advice and actionable protocols to elevate your biosecurity measures and enact the strongest possible circle of protection around your farm, protecting your livestock and livelihood and equipping you to move quickly should an outbreak encroach on your farm.
Our consultancy services provide direct access to world class disease mitigation solutions, with risk assessments, biosecurity measures for everyday and higher risk periods on your farm, cleansing and disinfection management planning and clear, actionable protocols to follow in the event of off-farm events impacting on operations (such as a confirmed case of AI occurring within 10km of your land).
Should your farm become an infected premises, the best solution is to be prepared for what is happening with a solid plan of action. The plan of action ensures you have each stage clearly written, compiling all of the necessary information required by APHA, making it easily accessible when they inevitably ask for it.
With several more months of AI season to navigate, don’t leave your biosecurity and the health of your livestock and livelihood to chance. Click here to contact the Livetec team today.