Avian flu preven­tion zone to be ex­tended

The Oban Times - - FARMING -

AN AVIAN in­fluenza preven­tion zone for all poul­try and cap­tive birds will re­main in force un­til the end of April, Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Fer­gus Ewing has con­firmed.

While the cur­rent preven­tion zone re­mains in place un­til Fe­bru­ary 28, the re­quire­ments of the zone will be amended af­ter that point, mean­ing that keep­ers will have the op­tion of let­ting their birds out­side, pro­vided that they put in place en­hanced biose­cu­rity to min­imise the risk of in­fec­tion from wild birds.

Mea­sures in the re­newed zone will con­tinue to ap­ply across Scot­land, with no tar­get­ing of spe­cific ar­eas.

Un­til Fe­bru­ary 28 all poul­try and cap­tive bird keep­ers in Scot­land must con­tinue to keep their birds in­doors, or take ap­pro­pri­ate prac­ti­cal steps to keep them sep­a­rate from wild birds. A UK-wide ban on poul­try shows and gath­er­ings re­mains in force.

While there have been no cases con­firmed in do­mes­tic poul­try or cap­tive birds in Scot­land, there have been cases in Eng­land and Wales.

Mr Ewing said: ‘We con­tinue to see daily re­ports of avian flu. We do not ex­pect the risk of H5N8 to re­duce any time soon, which is why we are ex­tend­ing the preven­tion zone un­til the end of April.

‘We con­tinue to work closely with key stake­hold­ers to pro­tect poul­try and cap­tive birds from dis­ease and min­imise the eco­nomic im­pact of the preven­tion zone on Scot­land’s vi­tal freerange poul­try in­dus­try, which is es­ti­mated to be worth around £46 mil­lion in 2016. That is why from Fe­bru­ary 28 we are chang­ing the re­quire­ments, hav­ing lis­tened to re­quests from in­dus­try stake­hold­ers and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, to al­low pro­duc­ers to be able to start let­ting their birds out, pro­vided they have en­hanced biose­cu­rity mea­sures in place.

‘We will con­tinue to pro­vide up­dates over the next few weeks but in the mean­time I would en­cour­age bird keep­ers to con­tinue to prac­tice and im­prove, where pos­si­ble, their biose­cu­rity mea­sures.’

Scot­land’s chief ve­teri­nary of­fi­cer Sheila Voas said: ‘The risk level from highly path­o­genic avian in­fluenza re­mains at high for wild birds and low to medium for do­mes­tic birds. It is es­sen­tial that keep­ers con­tinue to en­sure their birds are pro­tected from in­fec­tion by prac­tic­ing the high­est lev­els of biose­cu­rity.

‘Keep­ers should start to think about steps they can take now to pro­tect birds let out on Fe­bru­ary 28. This could in­clude keep­ing your range clear of wild birds and, where pos­si­ble, de­con­tam­i­nat­ing the range. You should also dis­cuss your ar­range­ments with your vet, who will be best placed to pro­vide spe­cific ad­vice on re­duc­ing the risk of in­fec­tion.

‘Ex­pert ad­vice re­mains that con­sumers should not be con­cerned about eat­ing eggs or poul­try and the threat to pub­lic health from the virus is very low.’ Biose­cu­rity steps in­clude:

Mak­ing sure that your birds’ feed and wa­ter can­not be ac­cessed by wild birds.

Avoid­ing con­tam­i­na­tion be­tween premises by cleans­ing and dis­in­fect­ing equip­ment, ve­hi­cles and footwear.

Re­duc­ing the move­ment of peo­ple, ve­hi­cles or equip­ment to and from ar­eas where poul­try or cap­tive birds are kept.

Im­ple­ment­ing ef­fec­tive ver­min con­trol around build­ings where poul­try or cap­tive birds are kept.

Pro­vid­ing wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties or dips con­tain­ing ap­proved dis­in­fec­tant at the right con­cen­tra­tion at key points such as farm en­trances and en­trances to bird houses.

For more de­tails, visit www. gov.uk/guid­ance/avian-in­fluenza-bird-flu.

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