New compulsory measures to protect birds from Avian Influenza are being introduced next week
New compulsory biosecurity and housing measures to further protect poultry and captive birds against Avian Influenza are being introduced from next week.
Interim Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr Gavin Watkins has announced the new requirements due to concern of a heightened risk of disease over the winter months.
From Friday, 2 December, it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors or otherwise separated from wild birds.
Keepers must also complete and act upon a bespoke biosecurity review of the premises where birds are kept.
This is to minimise the risk of virus entry in bird houses, which usually results in high mortality.
These new measures are in addition to those in the Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which was introduced last month.
Dr Watkins is encouraging bird keepers to prepare for the introduction of the new measures, by making sure housing is suitable, with the housed environment enhanced to protect bird welfare.
Housing of birds is only effective in protecting them against avian influenza if accompanied by rigorous biosecurity to keep the virus out of bird houses.
Health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been found at scores of poultry farms and commercial premises across the UK in the past year, while the disease has also ripped through breeding colonies of seabirds, killing thousands in some sites.
The current outbreak of H5N1 bird flu, which began in October last year, is being described by officials as “unprecedented in its scale and the breadth of species affected”.
It is the longest and largest such outbreak on record in the UK, continuing beyond the normal winter period for the disease and hitting wild birds and breeding colonies of seabirds not normally affected. here has been an unprecedented incursion of avian influenza into Great Britain and Europe in 2022.
Dr Watkins said: “The latest data suggests a westward spread of avian influenza to Wales in the coming months, and increased risk of birds being infected outside, through increased viral survival times and a possible further spread in the range of wild birds carrying the virus.
“Having assessed the evidence, we are taking further preventative action to help protect poultry and kept birds.
“The biosecurity and housing measures we are introducing in Wales will provide additional protection for birds and resilience for our poultry sector. We will continue to keep the situation under constant review.”
“I want to thank all keepers for the steps they have taken to keep birds in Wales safe from this devastating disease, steps which we know have protected birds..
“The additional measures announced today will build on that effort. If implemented rigorously, our birds will be protected.”
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