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THE UK’S chief veterinary officers are encouraging all poultry keepers to take action now to reduce the risk of avian influenza (AI) over the winter.
They have recommended simple measures that all bird keepers, whether they are running a large commercial farm, keeping a few birds in their back garden or rearing game birds, should take to protect their flocks over the winter months. These include: keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly 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; erecting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl. Where possible, they are also advising avoiding keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.
Since June 2017, there have been no detections of AI in poultry or kept birds in the UK and the UK has retained its OIE country freedom status since September 2017.
A joint statement by all four chief veterinary officers ran: “Avian flu continues to circulate in many parts of the world and with the colder months upon us the risk of disease from migrating birds is increasing. It is critical that all keepers of poultry, including game birds and pet birds, act now to reduce the risk of transmission of avian flu to their flocks. Good biosecurity should be maintained at all times, including regularly cleaning and disinfecting the area where you keep birds and separating them from wild birds wherever possible.
“Keepers should also ensure that they register on the Great Britain Poultry Register [https://www.gov.uk/ government/publications/poultryincluding-game-birds-registration-rulesand-forms] and we are pleased that new forms are now in place to simplify this process. Keepers in Northern Ireland must register their birds on the DAERA Bird Register. This can now be completed and submitted on-line.”
Poultry keepers in England, Wales and Scotland can sign up to a free APHA service (http://animalhealth.systemmessage.co.uk/AH_subscribe_index. php) to receive text or email alerts about any outbreaks of bird flu in the UK. In Northern Ireland, all bird keepers are encouraged to subscribe to a free text alert service (https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai) by texting BIRDS to 67300.
The UK’s chief veterinary officers have issued simple recommendations to bird keepers to help cut the risks