The UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer declared a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) for Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly), Devon and parts of Somerset on 31 August 2022.
Cornwall Council Trading Standards is reminding all keepers of poultry that they are legally required to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks, of whatever type or size, to mitigate the risk of further outbreaks of disease occurring.
The AIPZ now in force across Devon, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and parts of Somerset does not include a requirement to house birds.
The public are also reminded that they should not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find and follow the guidance on Defra’s advice to the public page. The UK Health Security Agency continue to advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advice remains unchanged, that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
The advice from Defra to all bird keepers in the new AIPZ affected areas means you must:
- 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
- prevent access by poultry to ponds and watercourses and ensure that birds are kept in fenced or enclosed areas
Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
The UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 130 cases confirmed across the country since late October. The introduction of this regional AIPZ comes after the disease was detected in captive birds at nine premises across the south-west region since last month, as well as several cases in wild seabirds.
Jane Tomlinson Trading Standard Manager covering Animal Health and Welfare at Cornwall Trading Standards Service, said: “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, poultry keepers are legally required to meet the enhanced biosecurity procedures to protect their birds from this highly infectious virus.
“We are responsible for enforcement of these legal requirements and our officers are working hard to help and advise poultry keepers. We recommend all poultry keepers sign up to the Defra poultry register and the disease alert service where they will receive regular text updates.”
Defra has said that the introduction of an AIPZ follows the recent increase in cases of bird flu in poultry and other captive birds in the area and increased reports of mass mortality in wild birds.
They have indicated that the prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of bird flu.
Whilst the health risks to the general public are low, Public Health Cornwall is also urging people not to feed wild birds to further reduce the risk and stop the virus spreading.
Brian O’Neill, Consultant in Public Health at Cornwall Council, said: “Bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to people’s health is low. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to stop it spreading so that risk becomes even lower.
“As well as not touching them, we would also strongly urge people not to feed wild birds at their local ponds, lakes and rivers as large gatherings of birds make transmission of the virus more likely.”
If you find a sick or dead wild birds, don’t touch them and please report to DEFRA on 03459 33 55 77 (select option 7) if you find:
- one or more dead bird of prey or owl
- 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
- 5 or more dead birds of any species
- if it is on Council land, please let us know so we can remove it. You can report it here and pinpoint the location. There is an interactive map so you can see if it’s on Council land.
- if the dead bird is on private land, please report it to the landowner.
- if you find a dead bird on your property, if DEFRA is unable to remove it, please follow DEFRA’s guidance on how to safely dispose of it
Poultry keepers should report suspicion of disease in their birds to APHA on 03000 200 301.