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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 wild and farmed birds in the UK. A number of measures are in place to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for UK consumers.

Where avian influenza has been confirmed, we put restrictions in place to limit the spread of disease, and investigate the source of the infection.

Latest situation

The H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at two separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire.

Restrictions remain in place at the following sites:

Restrictions have now been lifted at the following sites:

Check if you are covered by these restrictions using our interactive map.

The same strain 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.

H5N8 has been circulating in wild birds in Europe for several months – you can read more on the situation in Europe in the latest veterinary outbreak assessment.

If you keep poultry and captive birds

If you keep poultry – on a commercial scale or a small backyard flock – you are currently required by law to house them or otherwise keep them separate from wild birds. This is because a Prevention Zone is currently in force across the UK. This applies until 28 February 2017.

We have done this to reduce the risks of the disease spreading, and to help protect poultry and captive birds from avian flu. If you keep poultry you are required to take action to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.

All poultry keepers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of infection via the environment, for example in wild bird droppings, by practising good biosecurity. You should do this even if your birds are inside. You should read our detailed guidance on what you need to do.

If you have a backyard flock, you should read our short, simple advice on how to comply with these rules and how to protect birds’ welfare when they’re housed.

We have also banned gatherings of poultry 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 whilst the Prevention Zone is in force is available from The National Gamekeepers Organisation.

Video: advice for keepers of backyard flocks

Bird flu advice for poultry keepers

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.

Advice from the Chief Vet

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens has issued the following statement:

The Government has taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease, with restrictions around affected premises and wider measures in place across the country.

To reduce the risk of bird flu spreading from bird to bird there is currently a legal requirement for all poultry keepers – even those who just keep a few birds as pets – to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds. There is also a ban on poultry gatherings.

Bird flu is also transmitted via the environment, for example in wild bird droppings, and it is vital that keepers practice strict biosecurity. This means taking precautions such as putting up netting, keeping food and water inside and disinfecting footwear and equipment after contact with birds.

Further information

Government announcements on avian influenza