Bird flu – new warnings as cases rise

Published Friday 11 November 2022 at 14:19

The Government has now brought in new England-wide measures following a rise in avian flu cases – and people are being warned not to touch or pick up birds.

There are currently only three confirmed cases in Blackburn with Darwen, but cases have been increasing in England.

Members of the public are being warned not to approach or touch any poultry or other birds that you find or come across.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is low and food standards bodies have said that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.

The Government has declared an avian influenza prevention zone (AIPZ) for most of England, including Blackburn with Darwen, which is now in force.

This move is to help our Trading Standards and the Government prevent further spread of the disease. More information here:

Poultry keepers must take action now to protect their flocks from bird flu this winter.

Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds. When they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.

Keepers with more than 500 birds need to comply with the minimum and enhanced biosecurity measures. These are to:

  • Restrict access for non-essential people on their sites
  • Ensure workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures
  • Ensure site vehicles are cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry, including chickens, ducks and geese, must comply with the minimum biosecurity measures. They must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals. The key measures are to:

  • Make sure birds are kept housed or in netted areas
  • Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry
  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
  • Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
  • Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures
  • Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas
  • Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas; ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, eg, zoo birds)

We recommend everyone who keeps birds to register with the National Poultry Register – that way, you will get up to date info on how to protect your birds.

Full guidance for anyone who owns birds or comes into contact with them, is on the website.

Abdul Razaq, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, said:

The risk of catching avian flu is low, but I would also strongly advise people to avoid contact with birds, especially wild birds and poultry. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find and instead report them to the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 and choose the relevant options for APHA.”

For poultry keepers, you can help lower the risk of avian flu by following the government requirements and maintaining good biosecurity on your premises.

The UK food standards agencies have said that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.”


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