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Avian influenza update

Housing restrictions for domestic birds and poultry have been extended to 28 February 2017 due to the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza.

All poultry and captive birds, including backyard flocks, must be housed or, where it is not possible to do so, be kept separate from any contact with wild birds.

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

If you keep poultry, you must keep a close watch on them for any signs of disease. If you have any concerns about their health, you must quickly seek advice from your vet.

How to spot avian influenza

Avian influenza can often be fatal in birds. The main clinical signs include:

  • swollen head

  • blue discolouration of neck and throat

  • loss of appetite

  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling

  • diarrhoea

  • fewer eggs laid

  • increased mortality

Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species may show minimal clinical signs (ducks and geese).

How avian influenza is spread

Avian influenza isn’t an airborne disease. The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces. Use DEFRA’s interactive map to check if you live within the Protection or Surveillance zones around any infected premises.

Some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans, but this is very rare. It usually requires very close contact between the human and infected birds. Based on what we know about the current strain, the risk to public health is considered very low. There have never been any recorded cases of this strain in humans.

The Food Standards Agency advise that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact your vet as soon as possible for advice.

For further information regarding the outbreak and housing restrictions, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu


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