Chief Vet Declares Avian Influenza Prevention Zones in Great Britain

8 December 2016

On 6th December the government’s chief vet, Nigel Gibbens, announced Avian Influenza Prevention Zones for Great Britain, requiring commercial and individual poultry keepers in England, Scotland and Wales to keep their birds inside for 30 days, or take steps to separate them from wild birds.

The order, which remains in place until 6th January, comes after a type of highly pathogenic avian flu, H5N8, was found in dead wild birds and in some farm birds in mainland Europe.

To date, no cases have been confirmed in the United Kingdom.


BSAVA will update this website as more information becomes available or if the situation or advice to the profession changes.

Key Points

  • 6th December – Defra declares a 30 day prevention zone to help protect poultry from a strain of avian flu in Europe.
  • Requirements – Keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors or to take appropriate steps to prevent their birds coming ion contact with wild birds. Defra are asking poultry keepers to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
  • Reason – Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe (to date no cases have been confirmed in UK)
  • Working with wild birds – Proper biosecurity arrangements must be  made such that other hospitalised birds (or birds within a zoological  collection) are not placed at risk of infection. If this cannot be achieved  by means of isolation units, cleaning/ disinfection (using Defra  approved agents) and personal protective equipment, then a decision not  to admit wild birds, or to euthanase all injured birds may be made. The latter action is generally only required within an infected area, or  where there have been suggestive findings and authorities are awaiting  diagnostic test results. Staff working with wild birds should be aware of clinical signs of AI  in people and should report any suspicious signs to their doctor.
  • Wild birds and other animals – Wild birds should not be hospitalised with cats or ferrets as these may  be susceptible to some strains of AI
  • General Public – Members of the public finding five or more dead or sick birds in a  small area, especially if waterfowl or corvids, should report these findings to Defra.
  • Veterinary professionals with concerns – Any vet suspecting a genuine case of bird flu should contact the Defra helpline 08459 33 55 77

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