New warning issued over worst-ever outbreak of avian flu
Poultry keepers have been warned to take action or risk losing their flocks to bird flu by the Chief Vet for Wales, Christianne Glossop.
The UK is currently facing its most significant bird flu season ever, with over 50 cases recorded to date in kept birds, with three of those in Wales.
Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire are the worst-affected areas, with at least nine outbreaks recorded in each county, while a suspected outbreak in Northern Ireland resulted in 28,000 birds being culled earlier this week.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), requiring all bird owners to keep their flocks indoors and follow biosecurity measures, was introduced on 3 November and extended on 29 November.
Wild birds and other wildlife can spread the disease and keepers are being warned it is vital to not allow wild birds to mix with chickens, ducks, geese or other birds and to wash their hands and change or clean and disinfect footwear before going into bird enclosures.
“We are currently seeing unprecedented levels of bird flu across the UK, and bird keepers must ensure they implement the very highest levels of biosecurity to protect their flocks. This applies whether you have one bird or a large flock,” Wales Chief Veterinary Officer Christianne Glossop said.
“Excellent biosecurity if the best thing you can do to protect your birds from this disease. Without it your flocks will be at risk.
“An outbreak of bird flu in a flock is a devastating experience. Please ensure you keep your birds protected and limit the spread of the disease.”
Poultry keepers are instructed to:
- house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds;
- cleanse and disinfect clothing, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing;
- where possible change their footwear before entering sheds housing poultry and captive birds. If not, then ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected;
- reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control;
- thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis;
- keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points; and
- minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.
The government is also asking the public not to touch or pick up any dead or sick birds but report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
To report a suspected outbreak of the disease in Wales you can contact 0300 303 8268.
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