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Detailed guide: Avian influenza (bird flu)

Animal Plant Health Agency

January 16
16:03 2021

Avian influenza (bird flu) mainly affects birds. It can also affect humans and other mammals.

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 - please select option 7).

All bird keepers (whether you have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.

You should register your poultry, even if only kept as pets, so we can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

Latest situation

Update 16 January 2021: Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance within the zones, the Surveillance Zone declared on 9 January around a premises near Attleborough in Norfolk and the Surveillance Zone declared on 10 January around a premises near Kings Lynn in Norfolk have both been revoked. Local movement restrictions have now been removed but the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) measures remain in place.

Update 11 January 2021: Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance within the zones, the Protection Zone declared on 19 December around a premises near Gillingham in Dorset was revoked on 11 January and the areas merged with the Surveillance Zone.

For details of the measures that apply in these zones, see the movement controls and licences section.

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England effective from 5pm on 11 November 2020 with additional housing measures in force from 14 December 2020. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in England (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions including from the 14 December 2020 keeping their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances.

Further details of the measures that apply in the AIPZ including housing measures can be found in the AIPZ including housing measures declaration (in force from 00:01am 14 December 2020 until further notice). This declaration revokes and replaces the AIPZ declaration (in force from 11 November 2020 to 14 December 2020).

To assist all bird keepers in complying with the rules we have updated the biosecurity guidance and published a Biosecurity self-assessment checklist (ODT, 22.6KB).

Local Authorities have the responsibility to ensure compliance AIPZ. Failure to comply with the AIPZ Declaration may be an offence under section 73 of the Animal Health Act 1981 and subject to an unlimited fine on summary conviction and up to 3 months imprisonment per offence.

The decision to implement the AIPZ on the 11 December 2020 and the additional housing measures from the 14 December 2020 was made in light of evidence from the continent and ongoing high numbers of avian influenza findings in wild bird in England and follows risk assessments containing the latest scientific and ornithological evidence and veterinary advice.

AIPZs have also been declared in Scotland by the Scottish Government (in force from the 11 November 2020), in Wales by the Welsh Government (in force from the 11 November 2020) and in Northern Ireland by DAERA-NI (in force from 1 December 2020). Scotland and Wales have also introduced housing measures on 14 December 2020 as part of their AIPZs.

Bird fairs, markets, shows and other gatherings

Bird gatherings are not permitted within the AIPZ and therefore are not currently permitted in England. The general licence for bird gatherings was revoked on 11 November 2020 at 6:30pm. Further information can be found in our guidance for bird gatherings. The collection of wild game birds is not affected by these measures.

Risk level

The risk of incursion of avian influenza has been increased to very high for wild birds and medium for poultry with high biosecurity and high for poultry with poor biosecurity. Further details on the evidence which supported these decisions can be found in our risk assessments.

In response to the increased risk an

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