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MONITORING ONGOING DISEASE OUTBREAKS IN EUROPE: HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA (BIRD FLU) 2020-21

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5) is currently circulating in Europe, with outbreaks of disease in many countries. An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across the whole of Great Britain. An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of Great Britain. AIPZ with additional housing measures in North Yorkshire (Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire Districts) was declared at 2030h 21 November 2021. On 29 November housing measures, will come into force, meaning that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

The APHA Interactive Disease Map of outbreaks in Great Britain at the bottom of this page highlights control zones and higher risk areas in the event of a confirmed case of notifiable Avian Influenza (AI). On the 3rd November 2021 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was found at a premises in the Angus constituency, Scotland. HPAI H5N1 was identified in wild birds, Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) carcases in two events: 20 July 2021 Fair Isle (Shetland, Scotland) and 27 July 2021 on the Flannan Isles (Outer Hebrides, Scotland). These relate to discrete localised infections within a single colonial species in summer and not therefore representative necessarily of the whole UK level situation at the present time. Avian Influenza (strain and pathogenicity to be confirmed) was identified in Kirkcaldy, Fife (unspecified gull, collected on 14 October 2021) Leith, Edinburgh (mute swan, collected on 23 October 2021).

Defra November 2021  Rapid risk assessment on incursion of H5Nx HPAI into housed or not housed poultry flocks and captive birds

If you suspect a notifiable animal disease you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

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The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has updated (26th October 2021) the risk of incursion of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 infection in wild birds has increased from MEDIUM (event occurs regularly) to HIGH (occurs often). The risk of poultry and captive bird exposure to HPAI H5 across Great Britain has been raised from LOW (with medium uncertainty) to MEDIUM (with medium uncertainty) where biosecurity is sub-optimal, and remains at LOW (with medium uncertainty) where stringent biosecurity measures are applied.

Since the 11th November, the UK is no longer free from avian influenza under the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) rules. See the Defra trade, import and export issues web pages for further information.

From 29 November it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures.

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Great Britain: Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ): An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across the whole of Great Britain as of 5pm on 3 November 2021. It introduces strict biosecurity measures for all bird keepers (including those who keep pet birds) to help prevent the spread of avian influenza from wild birds or any other source. The decision to implement this zone follows a risk assessment containing the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to:

  • restrict access for non-essential personnel on their sites
  • ensure workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures
  • clean and disinfect site vehicles regularly to limit the risk of disease spreading

Keepers of more than 50 poultry or other captive birds will need to:

  • Place foot dip containing authorised disinfectant at entry/exit points where birds are kept ensuring that any person entering and exiting that part of the premises disinfect footwear.

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese need to:

  • Take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals. 
  • Additional measures apply to keepers of poultry or other captive birds with outdoor range areas.

21 November 2021 2030h Avian Influenza Prevention Zone with additional housing measures in North Yorkshire (Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire Districts) was declared. Poultry and other captive birds are required to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds.

Scotland: Advice on AI from the Scottish GovernmentBiosecurity self-assessment checklistExotic diseases of animals: contingency framework plan, Biosecurity and preventing welfare impacts in poultry and captive birds.

Markets, shows and other gatherings of kept galliformes (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, quails and other land fowl) and of kept Anseriformes, (ducks, geese, swans and other water fowl) are prohibited following an amendment to the Scottish General Bird Gathering License (8 November 2021). 

The public have also been asked to report any observations of wild bird deaths, especially those involving 5 or more birds of any species, and also where a single dead wild duck, goose, swan or gull is found (Defra helpline 03459 33 55 77). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

EPIC scientists are working closely with Scottish Government to assist with contingency plans for Avian Influenza and other diseases. In particular, EPIC scientists are working on producing rapid risk assessments. Please visit our page on Avian Influenza to see our latest research.

 APHA Interactive Disease Map including higher risk areas (select layers)

Summary of HPAI H5 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 

Scotland

3 November 2021 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza  H5N1 was found at a premises near Arbroath, Westminster Constituency of Angus. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones are now in place.

 

England

2 December 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Leominster, North Herefordshire, Herefordshire. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

2 December 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Tutbury, East Staffordshire, Staffordshire. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

2 December 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a sixth premises near Thirsk, Hambleton, North Yorkshire. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

30 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a second premises near Barrow upon Soar, Charnwood, Leicestershire. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises

27 November: Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry at a fifth premises near Thirsk, Hambleton, North Yorkshire on 28 November 2021. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

26 November: Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a fourth premises near Thirsk, Hambleton, North Yorkshire. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

26 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Clitheroe, Ribble Valley, Lancashire. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

25 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) has been found at a premises near Poulton le Flyde, Wyre, Lancashire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises.

25 November 2021: Highly pathogenic Avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) has been found at a premises near Barrow upon Soar, Charnwood, Leicestershire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises.

22 November: Highly PathogenicAvian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at second premises near Thirsk, Hambleton, North Yorkshire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises

22 November: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at second premises near Leeming Bar, Hambleton, North Yorkshire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises

21 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Thirsk, Hambleton, North Yorkshire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises. Avian Influenza Prevention Zone with additional housing measures in North Yorkshire (Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire Districts) was declared at 2030h 21 November 2021.

21 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Wells-next-the-sea, North Norfolk, Norfolk. Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises.

21 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near North Fambridge, Maldon, Essex. 21 November 2021. Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises.

20 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Mouldsworth, Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises.

19 November: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Silecroft, Copeland, Cumbria. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises.

19 November: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises near Pokesdown, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. . 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the premises.

17 November: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises near Willington, South Derbyshire, Derbyshire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place surrounding the premises.

16 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises near Kirkham, Fylde, Lancashire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place surrounding the premises

13 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Leeming Bar, Hambleton, North Yorkshire. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place surrounding the premises

12 November 2021:  Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Salwick, Fylde, Lancashire, England. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place surrounding the premises.

11 November 2021:  Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises near Frinton-on-Sea, Tendring, Essex, England. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place surrounding the premises.

7 November 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in a small poultry unit at a premises near Alcester, Bidford, Warwickshire. A 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone has been declared.

26 October 2021: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza HPAI H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a rescue centre near Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. A 3km Protection and a 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises.

Wales

25 November 2021: A case of Avian Influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) was confirmed in a small backyard flock of chickens and ducks at a premises near Gaerwen, Isle of Anglesey, Wales. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. A 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone has been declared.

1 November 2021: A case of H5N1 Avian Influenza (pathogenicity to be confirmed) was confirmed at a premises near Chirk, Wrexham, Wales. Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the infected premises. A small area of the 3km Zone A and part of the10km Zone B of the Temporary Control Zone extends into England and equivalent zones have been declared by Defra for these areas in England.

Northern Ireland

30 November 2021: Suspect case of notifiable Avian Influenza (AI) found in commercial duck premises in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone. A 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone has been declared.

Wild Bird Cases

Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza in wild birds APHA weekly report 

Scottish Government Avian Influenza information poster for poultry keepers

 

 FAQ smallholder and poultry keepers

25 November 2021: Avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) has been found at a third premises near Thirsk, Hambleton, North Yorkshire Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises

25 November 2021: Avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) has been found at a premises near Poulton le Flyde, Wyre, Lancashire. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises.

25 November 2021: Avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity to be confirmed) has been found at a premises near Barrow upon Soar, Charnwood, Leicestershire. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around each of the premises.

  • Small Holders and Backyard Poultry Keepers

    Poultry keepers with flocks of 50 or more birds are required to register their flock with the APHA. In the event of a disease outbreak neighbouring ‘at risk’ flocks can therefore be identified. These flocks would fall into a movement restriction or surveillance zone set up following the identification of an infected premise. All poultry keepers are encouraged to voluntarily register their flock, no matter how small, with the APHA to enable the tracing and monitoring of ‘at risk’ premises in the event of an outbreak.

    APHA Voluntary Poultry Registration 

  • Understanding Poultry Keepers Better

    In collaboration with the RESAS strategic programme EPIC undertook research into backyard and small-holder poultry keepers. By speaking to individuals and exploring the reasons why people have poultry, their interactions with other poultry keepers and their concerns about disease risks researchers are developing a better understanding of poultry keepers attitudes to biosecurity. The 2018 report Understanding Backyard Poultry Keepers and their Attitudes to Biosecurity: Final Report highlights a breadth of attitudes and approaches to poultry keeping in Scotland.

  • Why are small-scale poultry keepers being asked to house their birds?

    Against a backdrop of an increased risk that wild birds may be arriving in the UK carrying influenza, there are two main reasons for small-scale backyard keepers being asked to house their birds. Housing your birds minimises the risk of your birds coming into contact with infected wild birds or their faeces and so minimises the health risks to your birds. There is also a risk that if your birds become infected then the virus will multiply in your birds and, in the period before the disease is detected, you may unwittingly spread the disease to other domestic birds and in particular other, poultry flocks.  So housing is a way to protect your birds and the birds owned by others.

  • Do wild birds contaminate domesticated poultry and which birds present the greater risks?

    In the UK in recent years there have been a number of outbreaks of AI in commercial flocks associated with exposure to wild birds.  Water fowl can carry the disease without showing clinical signs: these birds in particular migrate west from AI hotspots on mainland Europe and beyond, so the risk to birds in the UK increases. Wild birds in which AI has been detected include: Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, mute swans and various gulls as well as other waterfowl, such as grebes, curlews, herons and coots and some raptor species.

  • Do I have to house my birds?

    It is recognised that keepers of some small flocks may not be able to house their birds indoors without putting the health and welfare of their birds at risk. Under these circumstances there is a requirement to do what is practicable to minimise the risk to your birds and to those of others. You should consider if you can take steps to keep them separate from wild birds, such as: feeding and watering birds inside, making sure feed stores are protected against wild birds or vermin and removing any wild-bird attractants (removing feeders or filling in puddles) from the area around your birds.

    Whether or not you are able to house your birds, you and anyone else in contact with your birds should avoid contact with all other poultry as far as possible.

  • If you house your birds, then what should you consider?

    Poultry like a routine and backyard poultry are used to being able to scavenge for food. Being able to roam means that they can also control their environment, they can avoid, for example getting too hot by moving into shade. If you house your birds, you prevent them scavenging for food, limit their space and their ability to control their temperature.  All of these changes can increase stress and lead to undesirable behaviours such as feather pecking and cannibalism.  To minimise the risk of stress you need to:

    • Provide your birds with sufficient food in a sheltered area to prevent attracting wild birds - they will probably eat more than you are used to because they will not be supplementing their diet with vegetation, insects, worms etc that they may eat normally;
    • Ensure your birds have access to adequate supplies of clean water which cannot be accessed by wild birds– birds will drink up to twice what they will eat.
    • Provide as much space as possible for your birds.  A good way of doing this is to provide sufficient perch space for all of your birds.  Properly designed perches enable subservient birds to get away from dominant birds during the day – when on a perch a bird’s ‘flock size’ reduces to three, itself and up to two neighbours. At night birds will want to perch - their feet are designed to lock automatically onto a perch while they sleep – as this is deeply ingrained predator avoidance response. At night you will find the most dominant birds on the highest perches.
    • Poultry are inquisitive – they need things to occupy them. Normally this need would be fulfilled by ranging around their territory but it your birds are constrained to a small run then you need to think of other things to keep them occupied.  There are lots of ways that this can be done but giving the birds something to work at underpins most of them. So for example, put some of their food onto the litter that you should have on the floor of the house – this will encourage them to scavenge in the litter looking for food. Provide greens (cabbages suspended off the floor for example), for the birds to peck at. A full or part bale of straw or hay will give birds something to explore. Always check that anything you are introducing to your housed area hasn’t been in contact with wild birds or their faeces. 
    • Dust bathing is important for the physiological and physiological health of your poultry – provide suitable space and material of dry material for this (e.g. wood shavings, sand or sawdust).
    • The environment that your birds experience is crucial to their wellbeing.  If housed then there is a risk from poor air quality and high temperatures, even in the winter months. Birds are warm blooded animals and produce a considerable amount of heat from the food they consume. In cold weather birds flock together – birds should not be kept on their own - and providing they are not exposed to draughts, even at sub-zero temperatures can keep each other warm. The biggest risk in the UK is overheating – birds are not able to lose heat very efficiently. If the housing is small and poorly ventilated then heat build-up can be a problem. An air temperature of 21oC or below is what you should aim for – an inexpensive maximum/minimum thermometer placed at bird level will enable you to monitor air temperature. You should not be unduly concerned about low temperatures, providing your birds are kept dry and draught free, but high temperatures can be lethal. Do not allow the ammonia concentration to build-up – more frequent than normal replacement of litter material may be required.
    • If you are struggling to house your birds without a significant risk to their health and welfare, you should discuss this with your local veterinarian and agree preventative steps that you can take to keep them separate from wild birds.
  • Will I know if my birds have AI?

    AI strains can be either low or high pathogenicity (ability to cause disease) with low pathogenicity strains having the ability to mutate into high pathogenicity strains.  Birds infected by low pathogenicity strains may show no obvious signs of infection or may have mild breathing problems (although a number of conditions can cause this). In contrast high pathogenicity strains can cause sudden and widespread mortality. Birds that have not died may show signs that include:  swollen head; blue discoloration of neck and throat; loss of appetite; respiratory distress such as gaping beak; coughing, sneezing or gurgling; diarrhoea and a drop in egg production.

    It should be noted that some species of bird (such as ducks, geese and pigeons) display few or no clinical signs of avian influenza (AI).

    If you are concerned about the health of your birds, contact your private veterinarian and if you suspect your birds have AI you must contact your local APHA Office.

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