The Daily Telegraph

All kept birds must be fenced in as avian flu outbreak soars

- By Emma Gatten ENVIRONMEN­T EDITOR

OWNERS of birds kept in gardens and backyards will be forced to register with the Government under plans to limit the spread of avian flu, after they were told to keep their pets fenced in.

An avian flu prevention zone was declared across Britain yesterday after a spike in cases in the last month. All kept birds will now have to be fenced in, with extra security measures imposed to stop the spread from wild birds.

Currently, only owners of 50 or more birds have to register them with the environmen­t department. They are automatica­lly contacted in the case of nearby disease outbreaks and the Government are able to track them through surveillan­ce.

But this could be extended to owners of as few as one bird, Christine Middlemiss, the chief veterinary officer, said yesterday.

“It very much helps us when we need to do surveillan­ce around those infected farms in those zones, to see if there is any other infection there that we’re not aware of,” she said. “It helps us a lot to know what birds are out there, even if there’s five or 10 in a group.”

The UK is facing its largest outbreak of avian flu, which is deadly to birds but poses little risk to human health. More than a sixth of the 190 cases confirmed since October 2021 have occurred this month, with the East of England particular­ly badly affected.

Wales became the latest region to have the presence of bird flu confirmed yesterday.

Andy Patterson, from the Animal and Plant Health Agency, yesterday said there was little the Government could do to prevent the spread because of the large numbers of infected wild birds.

The Government said the risk to public health from the virus is very low and properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

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