Gamekeepers urged to be vigilant after two bird flu outbreaks in commercial poultry units

Following news of an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza (H2N2) in Kent on a small commercial poultry premises, a second case of avian influenza in a commercial poultry unit has been confirmed. Avian influenza of the H5N8 strain has been confirmed at a premises near Frodsham in Cheshire on 2 November 2020.

Tests are being carried out to confirm if it is the highly pathogenic strain that is currently circulating in Europe. All 13,000 birds at the farm, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. 3km and 10km temporary control zones have been put in place around the infected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading. A detailed investigation is in progress to determine the most likely source of this outbreak. Further details here.

Wild birds migrating from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds. There are some simple measures that all poultry and gamebird keepers, whether they are running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in their back garden, or rearing game birds, should take to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu.

These include:

  • Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice, and regularly cleansing and disinfecting any hard surfaces.
  • Cleaning footwear before and after visits.
  • Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly.
  • Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl.
  • Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.

All keepers of poultry and gamebirds should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in your flock and report any sign of avian influenza to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Defra and APHA are monitoring the situation to assess the risk to the UK poultry. Anyone who finds dead wild birds should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

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