Avian influenza – essential information

Avian influenza what you need to know NFU graphic

If you suspect that you have any type of avian influenza in any captive birds on your farm, it must be reported immediately.

Any dead waterfowl or wild birds that you find on your land must be reported to Defra so they can be tested.

Get advice from your vet if you are ever worried about the health of your birds.

Housing measures – what you need to know

There are mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds currently in place in all areas of England. This came into effect from from 00:01 on Monday 7 November.

This is in addition to the biosecurity measures that were introduced as part of the nationwide AIPZ introduced on 17 October. 

Find out what the enhanced measures for biosecurity mean for you: Housing for all poultry in England from 7 November | Measures for enhanced biosecurity

View our timeline of key dates to see what measures were brought in and when. 

Use Defra’s interactive map to check if you are in a Disease Control Zone and need to implement extra measures.

Avian Influenza outbreak 2022/23

To keep up to date with the latest cases as they happen head over to our latest news page.

Use our AI case finder

Our AI case finder allows you to find current and lifted cases of avian influenza at any particular location. It is being updated regularly with information on the latest cases, including the restrictions that apply in the Disease Control Zones around the infected premises.

Current risk levels

The risk levels are currently:

  • High for wild birds
  • High for poultry where biosecurity is suboptimal
  • Medium for poultry with stringent biosecurity

More information on the current risk level can be found by visiting: GOV.UK | Avian influenza (bird flu): Risk level.

 

AI – the situation as it has developed

2 December 2022

NFU Cymru welcomed news that mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds are to be introduced to all areas of Wales from Friday 2 December as a protection against Avian Influenza.

The news comes shortly after NFU Cymru wrote to Welsh Government requesting that mandatory housing measures be urgently introduced. Visit: NFU Cymru welcomes Avian Influenza housing order for birds in Wales

7 November 2022

Mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds were introduced to all areas of England from 00:01 on Monday 7 November, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s Chief Veterinary Officer. View the declaration at Defra | Declaration of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone -
including housing measures (England)

17 October 2022

A nationwide AIPZ (Avian Influenza Prevention Zone) has been declared across Great Britain. It's now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to protect their flocks. Read: Nationwide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declared | NFUonline.com

12 October 2022

Regional housing measures came into effect on Wednesday 12 October 2022 for parts of the east of England. The housing measures came into force from 00.01 on 12 October and build on the strengthened biosecurity measures brought in as part of the AIPZ (Avian Influenza Prevention Zone) on 27 September 2022, covering Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex. Read: AIPZ in east of England including new housing measures | NFUonline.com

1 October 2022

Defra declared the start of the 2022/2023 avian influenza outbreak. The 2021/2022 came to a close on 30 September. These are dates that authorities use for reporting means, although cases continued throughout both periods. 

27 September 2022

A regional AIPZ was declared covering Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex. The AIPZ in the east of England was active from 12noon on the 27 September. Read: Regional AIPZ declared | NFUonline

16 August 2022

The risk of avian influenza was reduced to low for all poultry. Defra confirmed that the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone for poultry and captive birds would be lifted at midday on 16 August. 

2 May 2022

Mandatory housing measures were lifted. Poultry and other captive birds no longer need to be housed, unless they are in a Protection Zone, and are allowed to be kept outside.

29 November 2021

Mandatory housing measures came into force across the UK – all captive bird keepers are required to house their birds to prevent the spread of avian influenza. This is in addition to the biosecurity measures already in place as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that came into force on 3 November.

21 November 2021

An enhanced Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was introduced in parts of North Yorkshire. This included mandatory housing for all captive birds within the area. Please note, this housing order is now mandatory across Great Britain.

14 November 2021

The first general licence was published. There are currently six general licences in place for a range of activities.  For more information on these and individual movement licensing please visit the licensing page on NFUonline. 

8 November 2021

The government announced that gatherings of poultry, galliforme or anserisforme birds were no longer permitted in England and Wales.

3 November 2021

A nationwide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) came into force across England, Scotland and Wales. This includes stricter measures on biosecurity to prevent the spread of AI.

26 October 2021

The first case of highly pathogenic H5N1 was confirmed in Great Britain. To stay up to date with the latest cases as they happen, head over to our latest news page.

"Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding. It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease."

Keeping your birds safe

Only 1g of infected faeces is required to cause one million birds to die, therefore keeping everything that is going in and out of the shed to a minimum and as clean as possible, is the only way to minimise the risk of AI.

Defra has put together some guidance on biosecurity and preventing disease in a Prevention Zone which has good biosecurity points worth following.

The chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, advises the following:

  • Cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • Reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry are kept to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products and using effective vermin control
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • Keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures
  • Minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.

Useful links

Your health and wellbeing

Your health and wellbeing matters.

It is understandable, during these times, to feel an increase in stress or anxiety. There are a number of rural charities and support networks that can offer help to those in need.

If you are struggling or know someone who is, know that you are not alone and the below helplines are here to support:

RABI has created an online farming community where you can access free, safe and anonymous online mental wellbeing support from any device – Online wellbeing support and counselling for farming people.

Farmwell has also published useful personal resilience guidance.

The Prince's Countryside Fund has a list of Farm Support Groups, local organisations and charities working across the UK, supporting people working in agriculture and rural communities.

Public information on reporting

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) helpline on 0300 303 8268.

If you’re concerned with the health of any of your own birds please contact your veterinary surgeon, or if you think they are showing signs of disease please contact your local APHA office.

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