Defra has extended to 28 February the existing “prevention zone” requiring all UK poultry to be housed away from wild birds, following confirmation of avian influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Carmarthenshire.

Image: © Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
H5N8 has been confirmed in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Carmarthenshire. Image: © Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

The prevention zone legally requires owners to house all poultry – be it on a commercial site or a small backyard flock – under secure cover to prevent them interacting with wild birds thought to be vectoring the virus.

Limit disease spread

A 3km prevention zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the latest infected premises near Pontyberem to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

All the birds at the location had been culled prior to confirmation of the H5N8 virus as the disease was strongly suspected.

The Welsh Government has confirmed it is the same strain detected in both the wild duck in Llanelli on 22 December and the turkey farm in Lincolnshire on 16 December.

Vigilance

The BVA and British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) have reiterated their call for vigilance among all poultry keepers and vets, as well as anyone visiting premises where birds are kept.

BVA Welsh branch president Neil Paton said: “This is the first incident of this avian flu strain in a kept flock of chickens and ducks and it shows the very real risk the disease poses to backyard flocks.

“A prevention zone has been put in place across the whole of Great Britain, requiring all poultry keepers to house their birds or, if that is not possible, to take measures that keep their birds separate from wild birds. This could include feeding and watering them under cover and keeping them away from standing water so that wild birds are not attracted to visit.

“Tight biosecurity, such as maintaining high levels of cleanliness and hygiene and not allowing visitors to come close to your birds, alongside preventing contact with wild birds, is crucial to stopping the spread of this disease.”

Helpline

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

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