Avian Influenza 7 May 2017 update

Posted on May 05, 2017 by John Fishwick

Avian Influenza

Just as it seemed all was clear on the Avian Influenza (AI) front, two new cases have been confirmed in a small backyard flocks of chickens in Lancashire (4 and 7 May 2017). 

On 28 February, much of the coastal area of England was classified as a High Risk Zone as the risk of infection from migratory birds was considered greatest. These High Risk Zones came to an end on 13 April, however this latest case has been found in an area which was previously included in the High Risk Zone. The area also suffered several outbreaks of AI over recent months.

Defra epidemiologists will doubtless be working very hard to try and establish the source of the infection so a decision can be made about the future risk of new cases.

The current situation across the UK is summarised below. Apart from the local control measures in Lancashire, the situation below remains accurate. If the situation changes a further, update will be given.

UK situation as of 7 May 2017

There is very good news to report: AI restrictions are being relaxed across most of the UK. The details are slightly different in each part of the UK and our understanding of the situation is as follows:

Scotland

The Prevention Zone in Scotland was lifted on 30 April 2017. There is no longer any need to keep birds housed or to have special measures in place if birds are kept outside. 

The ban on gatherings and shows of poultry in Scotland and other birds will also end on 15 May.

Further information for Scotland

Wales

The Prevention Zone in Wales was lifted on 30 April 2017. There is no longer any need to keep birds housed or to have special measures in place if birds are kept outside. 

The ban on gatherings and shows of poultry in Wales will remain in place until further notice.  

Further information for Wales

Northern Ireland

The Prevention Zone in Northern Ireland remains in place and is currently extended until 31 May 2017. Poultry and birds may be kept outside but the need for additional biosecurity requirements remain in place. These include keeping domestic birds away from wild birds, possibly by the use of netting and ensuring domestic birds are fed and watered inside, where wild birds cannot gain access. Other measures include ensuring very high levels of hygiene and cleanliness and not allowing visitors or movements of birds between sites.

The ban on gatherings and shows of birds will also remain in place until further notice.    

Further information for Northern Ireland

England

The Prevention Zone will come to an end on 15 May. There will no longer be any need to keep birds housed or to have special measures in place if birds are kept outside from that date.

The ban on gatherings of birds and shows will also come to an end on 15 May.

Further information for England

Ongoing caution

The easing of restrictions across much of the UK has been done following thorough risk assessments of the current situation by the relevant authorities; most notably the reduced risk from migratory birds. However, there is never any room for complacency with infectious diseases. Avian influenza remains a notifiable disease and everyone is reminded to report any suspicious signs. It is always good practice to maintain high levels of hygiene and biosecurity with your birds!

Where wild birds, especially small groups of wild birds, are found dead they should be reported to APHA or the relevant veterinary authority for investigation.

John Fishwick

Written by John Fishwick

BVA President from September 2017 to September 2018

John is senior lecturer in Dairy Herd Medicine and former head of the Department of Production and Population Health at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). He is a former President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA). Prior to this he worked in mixed practice and he was once head veterinarian to the world’s largest fully integrated dairy company, farming over 25,000 high producing dairy cows in Saudi Arabia.