Avian influenza (bird flu), a disease of birds, has been identified in wild birds in England in 2018. All poultry keepers should review their biosecurity, sign up for disease alerts, and register their birds with APHA. Keepers must report any unexplained deaths or sickness to their vet.
Public Health England advises the risk to public health from H5N8 and H5N6 avian influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said the disease poses no food safety risk for UK consumers.
To-date there have been no detections in poultry or kept birds in the UK, therefore the UK’s OIE country freedom for Avian Influenza remains unaffected.
On 18 January 2018, Defra introduced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in England. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.
This was introduced after H5N6 bird flu was identified in wild birds in two separate locations - South Dorset (confirmed on 12 January) and Warwickshire (confirmed on 18 January).
The new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England. All keepers must follow our detailed legal requirements on strict biosecurity, whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock. View our best practice biosecurity advice.
The latest veterinary outbreak assessment on Avian Influenza in the UK and Europe, which includes the current level of risk to poultry in the UK, is available here.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said:
We are continuing to see cases of bird flu in wild birds across the country which is why, if you keep birds, it is absolutely essential that you do all you can to protect them and help prevent the spread of the disease.
Enhanced biosecurity is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in England and Wales and you should report any suspicions of disease in your birds to Defra on 03459 33 55 77.
On 25 January 2018, a similar Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was introduced in Wales.
What to do if you keep poultry and captive birds
If you keep poultry – whether that’s a few birds in your garden or a large commercial flock – you must take steps now to review your biosecurity. You should also:
Review your biosecurity
Bird flu is spread by direct contact between birds and through contamination in the environment, for example in bird droppings. This means wild birds carrying the disease can infect domestic poultry, so the best way to reduce the risk of your poultry catching bird flu is to minimise chances for them to come into contact with wild birds or their droppings by practising good biosecurity.
You must review your biosecurity measures now. This means reading government guidance on good biosecurity and taking action to:
- minimise movement in and out of your bird enclosure
- clean footwear before and after visiting your birds
- keep bird enclosures clean and tidy and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces
- humanely control rats and mice
- place birds’ food and water in fully-enclosed areas that wild birds cannot access, and remove any spilled feed
- keep your birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access
- make sure equipment, feed and bedding are stored undercover so they cannot be contaminated by wild birds
- where possible keep chickens and turkeys separate from ducks and geese
Read and download our advice poster for keepers of poultry (PDF, 1 page).
Register your birds
We encourage all keepers to register their birds with Defra so that we can contact you quickly if there is a disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action. If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises. Find out how to register your birds.
Report signs of disease
If you suspect disease in your own flock, or you find dead wild birds such as wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey, you must let Defra know. Call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Sign up for disease alerts
By signing up to the free disease alert system you will get text alerts and emails informing you of the latest news about bird flu and Newcastle disease outbreaks in Great Britain.
Findings in wild birds
Findings in wild birds are recorded here.
Recent announcements on avian influenza