New bird flu case reported in Eden

A case of Avian Influenza has been confirmed at a premises north of Kirkoswald in Eden.

Poultry keepers are urged not to be complacent and to undertake urgent biosecurity measures to help stop the spread of bird flu as new cases are being reported in Cumbria.

So far, highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 had been reported at Silecroft in Copeland and near Aspatria. A case has also been found in Annan.

It means that 3km protection and 10km surveillance zones are now in place around the areas where infection has been identified.

The zones restrict access to locations where birds are kept and impose restrictions on the movement of birds. They do not limit access to residents, or business owners. The protection and surveillance zones will apply until the zone is withdrawn or amended by DEFRA.

With the backdrop of the UK facing its larger ever outbreak of bird flu with over 60 cases confirmed across the country since the start of November 2021, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss is calling on poultry keepers to take action to help stop the spread.

To help mitigate the spread of disease, The Government introduced new housing measures last month, which means that if you keep chickens, ducks, geese or any other birds you are now legally required to keep them indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures.

If you do not do this, the disease could kill your birds and you may face a fine. Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months and other wildlife spread the disease so it is vital not to allow wild birds to mix with your chickens, ducks, geese or other birds.

People can also spread the disease on clothing and shoes so, before going into bird enclosures you should wash your hands, and change, or clean and disinfect your footwear.

Risk to public health is low

The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry or eggs. 

The Chief Veterinary Officer is reminding all poultry keepers that whilst the main source of infection comes from migratory wild birds, those failing to implement these measures risk infecting their own flocks by walking the virus into their holdings.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said, “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease including introducing housing measures. However, we are seeing a growing number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country.

“Many poultry keepers have excellent biosecurity standards, but the number of cases we are seeing suggests that not enough is being done to keep bird flu out. Whether you keep just a few birds, or thousands you must take action now to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

“Implementing scrupulous biosecurity has never been more critical. You must regularly clean and disinfect your footwear and clothes before entering enclosures, stop your birds mixing with any wild birds and only allow visitors that are strictly necessary. It is your actions that will help keep your birds safe.”

Poultry keepers must do the following:

  • 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 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.

Poultry and captive bird keepers must be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

Keepers are urged to register their flocks with the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 birds or more.

Registering means that they will be able to contact you with information or action required should an outbreak happen near you. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find.

If you find dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. For further information see the advice for the public at www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.

Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Keepers should familiarise themselves with the avian flu advice at www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.

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