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Avian influenza (bird flu) in winter 2017 to 2018

The latest updates on avian influenza (bird flu) in winter 2017 to 2018.

Water fowl by water

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.

Current situation

On Friday 25 May, the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was lifted across England.

All keepers of poultry or captive birds in England should continue to follow good practice on biosecurity.

All disease control measures are kept under review based on the latest scientific and veterinary advice.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was lifted across England due to the scientific and veterinary evidence showing that the risk of this disease has now returned to low.

It is essential that all bird keepers continue to maintain good biosecurity measures to protect their birds and help prevent outbreaks or spread of diseases.

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:

  • register your birds with APHA;

  • report any sick birds;

  • sign up for disease alerts.

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.

Further information

Recent announcements on avian influenza

Published 21 November 2017
Last updated 25 May 2018 + show all updates
  1. On Friday 25 May the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was lifted across England
  2. Updated quote from the Chief Veterinary Officer
  3. Change of picture
  4. Addition of link to announcement of prevention zone in Wales.
  5. Updated to include a link to wild bird cases
  6. Updated latest situation - avian influenza prevention zone extended to cover England
  7. We have declared a Prevention Zone in areas of South Dorset - imposing requirements on all bird keepers - after H5N6 bird flu has been found in wild birds in that area.
  8. First published.