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Avian influenza (bird flu)

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and ban on poultry gatherings was lifted from midday on the 15 May 2021.

However, high biosecurity standards remain important.

The risk of bird flu in poultry with good biosecurity has now been reduced to ‘low’ for all poultry. As a result, the mandatory enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 11 November 2020 and the additional biosecurity measures in England, Scotland and Wales introduced on 31 March 2021 were lifted on 15 May 2021.

All poultry and bird gatherings, including pigeon gatherings organised for races from mainland Europe, will also be permitted, provided organisers notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) at least seven days before the event takes place and that they comply with the provisions of the new General Licence.

Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the H5N8 virus strain is low and from the H5N2, H5N5 and H5N1 virus strains is very low. Food standards bodies also advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers and does not affect the consumption of poultry products, including eggs.

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to remain 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. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • Fencing off ponds, streams, boggy areas or standing water and draining them where possible.
  • Netting or covering ponds.
  • Removing any wild bird feed sources.
  • Deterring wild birds by regularly walking through the area or by using predator decoys.
  • Cleansing and disinfecting concrete or other permeable areas.
  • Putting down wood shavings in wet areas.
  • Limiting the number of people who come onto the site.
  • Using disinfectant foot dips when entering and exiting enclosures or houses.

Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should continue to report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers should report suspicion of disease to the APHA in England on 03000 200 301, Wales on 0300 3038268 and in Scotland through the Local Field Service Office.

For more information see GOV.UK – Avian influenza (bird flu).