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.
Where avian influenza has been confirmed, we put restrictions in place to limit the spread of disease, and investigate the source of the infection.
The H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at a farm in Northumberland, a poultry farm in Suffolk, in three linked premises on a commercial game farm in Lancashire, in three separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire, and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire. Protection and Surveillance Zone restrictions remain in place at the following sites:
- Haltwhistle, Northumberland (confirmed on 24 February)
- Redgrave, Suffolk (confirmed on 14 February following introduction of a Temporary Control Zone on 13 February)
- Wyre, Lancashire (restrictions remain on the case confirmed on 30 January)
Surveillance Zone restrictions remain in place at the following sites:
- Wyre, Lancashire (confirmed on 27 January 2017)
- Wyre, Lancashire (confirmed on 24 January 2017)
- Boston, Lincolnshire (confirmed on 26 January 2017)
Use our interactive map to check if you live within the Protection or Surveillance zones around any infected premises, or within the ‘Higher Risk’ areas which will be in place from 28 February 2017.
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 – we publish details of the situation in the latest veterinary outbreak assessment.
If you keep poultry and captive birds
If you keep poultry you are required to take action to reduce the risk of avian flu spreading.
All poultry keepers – whether commercial farmers or those with a small backyard flock – are currently required by law to house poultry 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.
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.
After 28 February
From 28 February we will adopt a more targeted approach, with mandatory biosecurity measures across the country and continued housing or range netting in higher risk areas. Anyone planning to allow their birds outdoors from 28 February must take action now to reduce the risk of infection from birds being let outside by following Defra guidance. You can find out whether, based on current risk levels, you will be affected using our interactive map.
Video: advice for keepers of backyard flocks
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.
Detailed guidance on avian influenza (bird flu): latest situation; how to spot it and report it
- Specific advice on biosecurity requirements
- 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
- 24 February 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm near Haltwhistle, Northumberland
- 24 February 2017: New measures to protect against Avian Flu
- 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: 27 February 2017
- 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.