THE UK has declared itself free from Avian Influenza, it has been announced by the Government's chief veterinary officer.
Nigel Gibbens confirmed that the UK has met international requirements to be free from bird flu (H5N8), but is urging poultry keepers to remain vigilant.
The disease continues to circulate in Europe and, as winter approaches, the risk of migratory wild birds infecting domestic poultry will rise.
The UK was previously declared free of avian flu in April 2016 but the disease returned in December that year.
Declaring the UK free from AI means trade discussions on UK poultry and poultry products can restart with existing and potential new trading partners.
However, bird flu was recently found in a mute swan in August. This prompted the British Veterinary Poultry Association to urge egg producers to be ready to protect themselves from the threat of avian influenza "all year round".
Between December 2016 and June 2017, 13 cases of AI were confirmed in kept poultry in the UK.
In all cases, the Animal and Plant Health Agency put movement restrictions in place to limit the spread of disease and carried out investigations into the source and possible spread of infection.
The government also introduced UK-wide measures to protect poultry from infection from wild birds, including a requirement to temporarily house birds and a ban on bird gatherings.
Head of advisory services at Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Roger Draycott says “while it is good news that the UK is now free from bird flu, we urge all shoot managers, gamekeepers and game farmers to remain vigilant, report sightings of sick or dead birds and ensure high bio-security standards and procedures at all times”.
The government continues to carry out surveillance in poultry and wild birds and publishes regular disease updates.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
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