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Monitoring ongoing disease outbreaks in Europe: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) 2017-2018

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is currently circulating in Europe, with outbreaks of disease in a number of countries. Three high pathogenic strains of Avian Influenza (AI) have been identified in the 2017/18 AI season: 1) HPAI H5N6 in England (Dorset), Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, 2) HPAI H5N8 in Russia, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria, 3) HPAI H5N2 in Russia.

On the 10th January 2018, 3 Mute Swans found in Dorset (England) tested positive for HPAI H5N6. Further testing in the area has detected the virus in a total of 17 wild birds (15 mute swans, 1 Canada goose and 1 pochard). On the 18th January 2018, 13 dead wild birds were reported to have tested positive for HPAI H5N6 in Warwickshire (England). 

On the 19th January, at a nature reserve in Hertfordshire (England), another assemblage of dead wild birds was found and tested positive for H5N6. Among the 20 submissions, positive results were obtained from mallards, tufted ducks, greylag geese and a common gull. Week commencing 22nd January 2018, 12 wild birds tested positive for HPAI H5N6 in Rutland, West Yorkshire and North London (England). On the 1st March 2018 a dead buzzard found in Barry (Wales) tested positive for HPAI H5N6. On the 23rd of March 2018, a wild buzzard tested positive for HPAI H5N6 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

An ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ was declared on the 18th January 2018 to cover the whole of England and on the 25 January 2018 to cover the whole of Wales. This meant it was mandatory for all captive bird keepers in this Zone to put enhanced biosecurity measures in place.  The prevention zone was lifted on 25th May 2018. There are no restrictions on Scottish bird keepers at present. Scottish Government are continuing to monitor the situation across the UK and the rest of Europe, with EPIC providing scientific input as required. 

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The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has updated the risk assessment for incursion of HPAI into the UK via wild bird movements.  The risk level has changed to “Low” for further incursions in wild birds in the UK. The likelihood of a new poultry outbreak has changed to "Low" both for housed and free range birds although it is still recommended that poultry keepers remain vigilant to any notifiable avian disease and continue to maintain strong biosecurity.

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Scottish Government are advising all bird keepers to maintain good levels of biosecurity and to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock. 

Visit Page: Monitoring ongoing disease outbreaks in Europe: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) 2017-2018 for further resources 

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