The poultry sector in Scotland ranges from international commercial companies through to people that keep a few hens in their back garden. EPIC scientists' work focuses particularly on Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza outbreaks

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N8) is currently circulating in Europe, with outbreaks of disease in many countries. The disease has been identified in chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and game birds, as well as wild birds. Some Avian Influenza (AI) strains produce no clinical signs of infection in wild birds but can have high levels of mortality in domesticated birds. The situation can be exacerbated in farmed birds because large amounts of virus circulate in an outbreak and naturally occurring mutations may result in the emergence of highly pathogenic variants.  

The migratory bird flyways map below shows how disease can be spread around the world via areas of flyway crossover.

Simplified Migratory Bird Flyways Map


map wikicommons from left to right

Pacific America
Mississippi American
Atlantic American
East Atlantic
Noire Black Sea and Mediterranean
East Africa and West Asia
Central Asia
East Asia and Australian

More poultry related research

  • 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.

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