Although outbreaks are lessening as we start the new year, there is sufficient virus still circulating to ensure that biosecurity is kept to the highest level.

This doesn’t just mean whole site biosecurity, but also house to house on a site.

The whole country is still under the measures of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, and all birds should be securely under cover. Even this has not prevented the virus gaining access to some units during January.

The risk level in wild birds has increased from high (event occurs often) to very high in England, but remains at high for Wales and Scotland.

The risk for commercial poultry has changed from medium to high where there are less secure biosecurity measures in place.

Both the UK Health Security Agency and the Food Standards Agency have said that there is very low risk of spread to humans. But, the positive case of the individual who kept Muscovy ducks indoors with them, clearly shows the dangers of over-familiarity with birds.

At the end of January, there have been a total, in this current episode, of 74 cases in England, 6 in Scotland, 3 in Wales and 5 in N. Ireland, as well as multiple outbreaks in wild birds across all countries.

Then government have good guidelines on prevention for Avian Flu, as well as a downloadable self-assessment checklist on biosecurity on their website.

Reminders are given on how to spot AI in your flock:-

  • Sudden and rapid increase in mortality
  • Swollen head
  • Closed and watery eyes
  • Lethargy and depression
  • Recumbency and unresponsiveness
  • Incoordination and loss of balance
  • Head and body tremors
  • Drooping wings and dragging legs
  • Twisting of head and neck
  • Swollen and Blue Comb and wattles
  • Haemorrhages in shanks and skin
  • Loss of appetite and marked decrease in food consumption
  • Sudden increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Respiratory distress
  • Discoloured or loose watery droppings
  • Cessation or reduction of egg production

Cases confirmed during January included:-

Commercial poultry near Tewksbury on 28/1

Commercial poultry near Calveldy, Cheshire on 28/1

A unit near Byker, Newcastle on 25/1

Commercial poultry near Crewe on 21/1

Birds at premises near Ross-on-Wye on 20/1

2nd commercial unit near Tattenhall, Cheshire on 13/1

1st unit near Tattenhall, Cheshire on 13/1

2nd commercial unit near Louth, Lincs on 9/1

Birds near Upholland, W. Lancs on 7/1

2nd commercial unit near N. Somercotes, Lincs on 5/1

Unit near Lazenby, Eden, Cumbria on 4/1

10th unit near Alford, Lincs on 3/1

1st outbreak in commercial birds at Louth on 3/1

The public are reminded not to handle any dead, wild birds they come across, especially if they also even have a slight chance of subsequent contact with commercial poultry, as well as remotely risking their own health.


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