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Avian Flu Guidance

The government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed a number of cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in the wild bird population in our region.

National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - current requirements

Following a change in the risk levels and an increase in the number of detections of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in kept and wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain. This is to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds. This has meant that from midday on Monday 17 October 2022, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of Bird Flu.

Visit the GOV.UK website for information on the mandatory biosecurity measures

National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - housing requirement from 7th November

From 7th November the terms of the National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will be extended to require all captive birds to be housed. Further details can be found at Avian influenza: Housing order to be introduced across England - GOV.UK (

Lifting of the disease control zone in March

Following a confirmed case of Bird Flu near March on 31 October, DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency put in place a 3km Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone around the affected site. The disease control zone imposed certain legal obligations and restrictions on all bird keepers, whether they were commercial keepers or had a back yard flock. Subsequently all birds on site were culled and the zone remained in place until 26 February when the APHA had successfully completed their disease control activities and surveillance.

Despite the zone revocation, strict rules continue to be in place nationally for all bird keepers. New cases of the disease continue to emerge, and so it's really important that bird keepers in the March area continue to adhere to the requirements of the national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. This includes the requirement to maintain extensive biosecurity measures and procedures, the requirement to keep all birds housed, and of course the need to monitor the health of captive birds frequently, reporting any symptoms which could indicate infection to DEFRA. 

Spotting symptoms

Be aware of the symptoms of Bird Flu and check your birds regularly for these. Advice on symptoms and how to report concerns is on the GOV.UK website.

Symptoms include:

  • Swollen head
  • Blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fewer eggs laid
  • Increased mortality

Report disease symptoms in your own birds

If you keep birds and notice possible Bird Flu symptoms, you are legally obliged to report these to DEFRA's Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200301. Bird Flu is classified as a 'Notifiable Disease'.

When and how to report dead wild birds to DEFRA

If you come across:

  • One or more dead bird of prey
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks)
  • Five or more dead birds of any species

You should either:

DEFRA also welcomes reports of any other species or numbers of dead wild birds.

If you report a dead wild bird, DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) may arrange to collect it and test it. If they are going to do this, it will happen within four days. They collect and test dead wild birds to help explain where Bird Flu is spreading in Great Britain and in which types of birds.

Do not touch or pick up dead or visibly sick birds. It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if you do touch any dead birds, droppings, feathers or material that has touched the dead bird.

For advice on disposing of dead wild birds, whether you are a member of the public or a land owner, please view guidance on removing and disposing of dead wild birds on the GOV.UK website.

Register your stock

Bird keepers with more than 50 birds, whether all the same species or a mixture, must register them by law with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Those with less than 50 birds are also strongly encouraged to register their birds with the APHA.

To register, visit the Poultry (including game birds): registration rules and forms on the GOV.UK website. This also aids communication with you in the event of a confirmed case in your locality.

Register for Bird Flu updates

The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) runs a free disease alerts service for bird keepers. This keeps you up to date with the latest Bird Flu developments.

Sign up to receive animal disease alerts from APHA on the GOV.UK website.

Risk to human health

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that Bird Flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public's health is very low. Nevertheless, we strongly discourage you from touching dead birds or those showing symptoms of the disease.

Furthermore, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that, on the basis of current scientific evidence, Bird Flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The NHS website has further information on Bird Flu.

If you employ people who work with poultry, or you work with poultry yourself, you can also read advice on protecting workers from Bird Flu on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

For more information, read the Bird Flu guidance on the GOV.UK website.


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