Following a number of confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in August this year, mainly amongst Great Skuas in Scotland, there have now been numerous outbreaks since the end of October. There have been cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in captive and wild birds in England, Wales and Scotland and in wild birds in Northern Ireland. An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in addition to an enhanced AIPZ with additional requirements in parts of North Yorkshire in England.

Full information regarding the current situation in each of the four countries, including advice for poultry keepers, can be found here:

England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/

Wales: https://gov.wales/avian-influenza

Northern Ireland: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai 

Birds can be infected with the avian influenza virus through contact with infected saliva, nasal secretions or faeces. Wild birds including waterfowl are often more resistant to avian influenza than domestic birds, and can carry and transmit the virus without showing evidence of disease. This has often led to speculation that wild birds are the primary source of avian influenza spread. However, there are several ways by which avian influenza might be transmitted, and globally the most important of these has been the unrestricted movement of poultry and poultry products. 

Although the risk of contracting the disease from a wild bird is very low, you are advised not to touch any sick or dead birds, their droppings, or any water nearby. It is extremely unlikely that avian influenza could be transmitted to people by feeding birds in the garden, but we encourage people to continue adopting good hygiene measures at bird feeding stations.

If you come across any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), gulls or birds of prey these should be reported the DEFRA helpline (03459 33 55 77). See DEFRA’s website here for more details https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

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