Flintshire County Council Animal Health Team would like to make Flintshire communities aware of the increased risk presented by Avian Influenza (Bird Flu).
Everyone who keeps birds and poultry (whether it be only a few as pets or thousands of birds as part of a business) is being asked to follow the latest advice from Welsh Government and to ensure that they keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures in order to protect their own birds and limit the spread of the disease.
The disease is carried by wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months and this can lead to cases in poultry and other captive birds.
The team advises that with effect from Monday 29 November 2021, the Chief Veterinary Officers for Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have agreed to bring in new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza following a number of confirmed cases across Great Britain including locally in Wrexham and on Anglesey in recent weeks.
The new housing measures mean that from Monday 29 November, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to house all poultry and captive birds and that keepers must continue taking extra precautions to keep their flocks safe. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles when entering or exiting sites and limiting access to non-essential workers or visitors.
The team is backing the Welsh Government advice for all keepers to take steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet for advice and put up additional housing where necessary to protect their birds from the disease.
Avian influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry or captive birds.
Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the avian influenza virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency Wales advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
In the event of a member of the public discovering any dead or sick swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, they should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Flintshire’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection, Councillor Chris Bithell, said:
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, we ask that all bird keepers take appropriate steps to keep their birds separate from wild birds in order to protect them from this highly infectious disease. Protection of health, safety and wellbeing is a priority to the council and this includes animal health and welfare. Our officers want to help bird keepers to protect their animals and ask that if you know someone who keeps birds who may not be aware of the increased risk of Bird Flu please spread the word so that we can keep Flintshire free of the virus.”
Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds and to seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
Bird keepers are asked to report suspicion of disease in Wales on 0300 303 8268, in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Keepers should familiarise themselves with current avian flu advice that is available on the Gov.wales website.
Current Welsh Government Advice to Keepers is as follows:
Poultry keepers must now do the following:
- House or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds
- Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
- Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
- Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
- Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
- Minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds
These new housing measures will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks. Further information can be obtained from the Gov.wales website.