Avian influenza (bird flu) in winter 2016 to 2017
The latest situation on avian influenza (bird flu) in the UK and advice on how to reduce the risks.
Avian influenza (bird flu) is a disease of birds. The H5N8 strain of the disease has been found in the UK in farmed and wild birds since December 2016.
If you keep poultry and captive birds
H5N8 avian flu remains a threat to poultry and kept birds across the UK and keepers must comply with strict disease prevention measures.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone is in place across England. It applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds. This means all keepers - whether they have commercial flocks or a few birds in their back garden - must follow strict rules on biosecurity.
These include minimising your movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors. Read our short, simple advice for keepers of backyard flocks (PDF, 1 page).
From 13 April 2017 the Prevention Zone rules have changed. All poultry in England are now allowed outside as keepers are no longer required to house them or have total range netting in place in Higher Risk Areas of England. Read detailed advice about the Prevention Zone requirements (PDF, 12 pages).
This decision was taken based on the latest veterinary advice and scientific evidence which concluded the level of risk to poultry in the Higher Risk Areas has now reduced to the same level as that across the rest of England. All keepers must continue to follow our detailed biosecurity requirements.
A ban on poultry gatherings remains in place across the UK. This applies to birds including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as livestock fairs, auctions and bird shows.
Advice on rearing game birds and shooting while the Prevention Zone is in force is available from The National Gamekeepers Organisation.
All disease control measures will be kept under review based on the latest situation and up-to-date scientific advice.
Welfare of housed birds in warm weather
If your birds are housed it is especially important to keep a close eye on them in warmer weather to ensure they remain comfortable and healthy.
Check them regularly and ensure they have enough water and sufficient ventilation. You should monitor the maximum temperature and take action if it significantly exceeds 21ºC for adult birds or around 13ºC for adult ducks.
Read more detailed advice on the welfare of housed birds (PDF, 19 pages).
Free range status
All egg producers in England can now let their birds outside provided they observe strict disease prevention measures. Keepers can sell products as free-range if they come from birds which meet all the free-range requirements.
Reporting suspicion of disease in your poultry
For advice and guidance on what to do if you keep poultry or to report suspicion of disease in animals, call the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 or read our detailed guidance on avian influenza.
Reporting dead wild birds
Members of the public should report dead wild birds - such as swans, geese, ducks, gulls or birds of prey - to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Defra will then collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird.
Cases of avian influenza since December 2016
The H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at farms in Northumberland, Suffolk, Lancashire and Lincolnshire, and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire.
Where avian influenza has been confirmed, we put restrictions around the site - a 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance zone - to limit the spread of disease, and we investigate the source of the infection. There are currently no Protection Zone or Surveillance Zone restrictions in place.
As well as being found in poultry, the same strain of the virus has also been found in wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales. We publish a list of cases where we find avian influenza in wild birds.
We publish details of the situation across Europe in the latest veterinary outbreak assessment.
- Detailed guidance on avian influenza (bird flu): latest situation; how to spot it and report it
- Food Standards Agency advice
- Public Health England advice
- Health and Safety Executive advice on protecting workers from avian influenza
- Latest veterinary outbreak assessment on H5N8 in the UK and Europe
- Results of findings of H5N8 in wild birds in Great Britain
Government announcements on avian influenza
- 10 April 2017: Updated measures to protect poultry against avian flu
- 10 March 2017: Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - Next Steps (Northern Ireland Executive)
- 3 March 2017: Avian flu near Redgrave, Suffolk
- 24 February 2017:New Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - 28 February to 30 April(Welsh Government)
- 24 February 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm near Haltwhistle, Northumberland
- 24 February 2017: New measures to protect against Avian Flu
- 22 February 2017: Renewal of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone(Scottish Government)
- 13 February 2017, updated on 14 February 2017: Avian Flu confirmed at a farm near Redgrave in Suffolk
- 8 February 2017: Update on on biosecurity measures to protect against Avian Flu
- 27 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm in Wyre, Lancashire
- 26 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm near Boston, Lincolnshire
- 24 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm in Wyre, Lancashire
- 16 January 2017: Avian Flu confirmed at a farm in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
- 6 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed in backyard flock in Yorkshire
- 4 January 2017: Avian flu prevention zone extended
- 4 January 2017: Extension of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (Scottish Government)
- 4 January 2017: Cabinet Secretary declares extension of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (Welsh Government)
- 3 January 2017: Avian influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Carmarthenshire (Welsh Government)
- 23 December 2016: Avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds in England and Scotland
- 23 December 2016: Avian influenza in wild bird in Scotland (Scottish Government)
- 22 December 2016: Poultry keepers urged to maintain biosecurity as avian influenza (bird flu) is found in wild duck in Carmarthenshire
- 22 December 2016: Avian influenza in wild duck in Carmarthenshire (Welsh government)
- 20 December 2016: Poultry gatherings suspended
- 16 December 2016: Avian influenza (bird flu) at Lincolnshire farm
- 6 December 2016: New measures to protect poultry against avian flu
Published: 23 December 2016
Updated: 13 April 2017
- We have updated the information on the rules from 13 April 2017.
- Updated to reflect a change to the Prevention Zone.
- Updated to add advice on the welfare of housed birds.
- Updated to reflect lifting of Surveillance Zone in Haltwhistle.
- Restrictions have been removed from around a premises near Redgrave, mid-Suffolk, and the Protection Zone has been merged with the Surveillance Zone for the case near Haltwhistle, Northumberland.
- Restrictions removed from around a premises near Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire.
- Updated to reflect the latest outbreak situation, including the new 'targeted approach' to housing.
- Updated because of removal of the final Surveillance Zone restrictions at two of the sites near Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire.
- Updated because of removal of the Protection Zone restrictions at two of the sites near Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire.
- Updated to include H5N8 case confirmed in Haltwhistle, Northumberland
- Link added to announcement on next steps for the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) after 28 February
- Updated as the PZ restrictions have now been lifted on the 26 January case near Boston, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire (SZ restrictions remain in place).
- Updated: Surveillance Zone restrictions around the 16 January case near Louth, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire have been removed.
- Updated to reflect confirmation of disease near Redgrave in Suffolk.
- Updated to include details of a 10km Temporary Control Zone around a premises in Suffolk following investigation into a suspected case of Avian Influenza where laboratory analysis has identified the presence of H5N8 and investigations are ongoing into the nature of the virus detected.
- Updated to reflect merging of the Protection Zone with the Surveillance Zone relating to the case confirmed on 16 January 2017 in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire.
- Updated to reflect plans for next steps on biosecurity measures
- Updated to reflect lifting of restrictions in Carmarthenshire.
- New case of bird flu confirmed at a farm in Wyre, Lancashire
- On 26 January 2017, a case was confirmed at a farm near Boston, Lincolnshire
- Updated to clarify the location of the outbreak confirmed on 24 January.
- Updated following the new case in Preston, Lancashire.
- Updated to reflect latest advice
- The surveillance zone restrictions in Louth, Lincolnshire were lifted on 18 January.
- Updated following the case of avian influenza H5N8 confirmed in a commercial turkey unit in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire. We've also added a link to advice on rearing game birds and shooting whilst the Prevention Zone is in force.
- Updated to include information of a confirmed case of H5N8 in Yorkshire.
- Updated following announcement that the prevention zone will be extended to 28 February 2017, and to reflect confirmation of avian influenza in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
- Routine editorial update, including link to report of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) H5N8 found in wild birds.
- First published.