Avian flu control zones in force across East England
Following a number of cases of bird flu in across the east of England, a regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared on 27 September in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.
Pest controllers in this area should be especially vigilant with their PPE and hygiene.
There is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to implement enhanced biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.
Details of the conditions and a map of the zone can be found on the Gov UK website.
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 that Defra 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.
About Avian Influenza
Avian influenza (bird flu) mainly affects birds. It can also affect humans and other mammals.
Avian influenza spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces. It can also be spread by contaminated feed and water or by dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear.
The avian influenza virus changes frequently, creating new strains, and there is a constant risk that one of the new strains may spread easily among people.
There are 2 types of avian influenza.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds.
The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds (which can include any or a combination of the following) are:
- sudden and rapid increase in the number of birds found dead
- several birds affected in the same shed or air space
- swollen head
- closed and excessively watery eyes
- lethargy and depression
- recumbency and unresponsiveness
- incoordination and loss of balance
- head and body tremoring
- drooping of the wings and/or dragging of legs
- twisting of the head and neck
- swelling and blue discolouration of comb and wattles
- haemorrhages on shanks of the legs and under the skin of the neck
- loss of appetite or marked decrease in feed consumption
- sudden increase or decrease in water consumption
- respiratory distress such as gaping (mouth breathing), nasal snicking (coughing sound), sneezing, gurgling or rattling
- fever or noticeable increase in body temperature
- discoloured or loose watery droppings
- cessation or marked reduction in egg production.
Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species (for example ducks and geese) may show minimal clinical signs.
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious and may show more vague clinical signs. It can cause mild breathing problems and reduction of egg production, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.
The severity of LPAI depends on the type of bird and whether it has any other illnesses.
Anyone who keeps poultry must keep a close watch on them for any signs of disease, and must seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
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