Advice and guidance to poultry and bird keepers in response to national housing order
With the introduction of a national housing order across England on Monday (November 7) for all poultry and captive birds, people who keep such species are being urged to follow the new measures.
The housing measures legally require all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease, regardless of type or size.
Over the last year, the United Kingdom has faced its largest ever outbreak of avian influenza with over 200 cases confirmed since late October 2021. The introduction of the housing measures comes after the disease was detected at over 70 premises since the beginning of October, as well as multiple reports in wild birds.
With avian influenza spreading in the wild bird population nationally, people visiting city parks and open spaces are being advised to not touch sick/dead birds – or anything that might have been in contact with infected droppings.
The warning comes after several cases were confirmed in the West Midlands in recent weeks, with yet-to-be confirmed cases in Birmingham also.
The risk to human health is considered very low by health experts, but it is possible for people to catch the virus. As such, advisory signs are being put up at all council parks and open spaces containing the warning, as part of the effort to reduce transmission and ensure public safety.
Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “We know how serious this issue is from the outbreak that was experienced in Birmingham and many other areas earlier this year.
“As was the case back then, we are making sure advice and information is available to our staff operating in parks and for the public via our website and at our network of parks and open spaces, which are places that attract many people at all times of the year.
“People need to be cautious and the warnings we are putting out there will help visitors to our sites make the informed decisions that will keep them, their loved ones, their pets and other animals as safe as possible.”
The RSPCA has provided a simple guide to help backyard flock keepers to protect their birds from bird flu. It is important to be vigilant for any signs of disease, if you are concerned about your birds’ health or suspect avian influenza, please contact your vet immediately. More information on bird flu is available on the NHS website.
Cllr Mahmood added: “As appropriate, we will continue working with agencies such as Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the UK Heath Security Agency (UKHSA), the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the RSPCA to ensure the response continues to be the right one, so this issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.”
If you have found and touched a sick or dead bird
In areas where the infection has been confirmed or is suspected, anyone who has been in contact with sick or dead birds or their droppings should make sure any footwear is properly cleaned and thoroughly wash their hands in soap and water.
Then contact the UK Health Security Agency’s West Midlands Health Protection Team on 0344 225 3560 so that public health experts can determine if antiviral medication and active surveillance of their condition is necessary.
Reporting sick or dead birds in Birmingham
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Birmingham City Council team on 0121 454 7810.
Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. If you have found a sick or injured bird, contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. Do not touch the bird.
Outside the Birmingham area
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, please do not touch them and call the Defra helpline on 03459 335 577. For further advice see GOV.UK