Vets encourage vigilance as avian flu found in backyard flock

04 January 2017

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales has confirmed Avian Influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks on a premises near Pontyberem in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

Prior to confirmation it was decided to cull the small flock on strong suspicion of disease.

A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises, to limit the risk of the disease spreading and as part of the wider surveillance and disease control measures.

BVA and British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) have reiterated their call for vigilance amongst all poultry keepers, vets and anyone visiting premises where birds are kept.

BVA Welsh Branch President, Neil Paton, said, “This is the first incident of this avian flu strain in a kept flock of chickens and ducks and it shows the very real risk that the disease poses to backyard flocks.

“A Prevention Zone has been put in place across the whole of Great Britain, requiring all poultry keepers to house their birds or, if that is not possible, to take measures that keep their birds separate from wild birds. This could include feeding and watering them under cover and keeping them away from standing water, so that wild birds are not attracted to visit.

Tight biosecurity, such as maintaining high levels of cleanliness and hygiene and not allowing visitors to come close to your birds, alongside preventing contact with wild birds are crucial to stopping the spread of this disease.

“Signs of avian flu can vary between species of bird and could range from very mild signs like seeming ‘off colour’ or reduced feed or water intakes through to the severity of death.  If you are concerned about your flock, please speak to your local vet. Anyone with suspicion of the disease in their birds should report this to the Animal Plant and Health Agency on 0300 303 8268 immediately.”

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.  

Further guidance on Avian Influenza can be found on the Defra website.  

BVA Media Office