While there has not been an outbreak of avian influenza in East Riding since 2014, there has recently been several confirmed outbreaks of the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in Great Britain, including in North Yorkshire and South Derbyshire. There have also been widespread findings of the virus in wild birds throughout Great Britain.
Outbreaks of avian influenza are more common in the winter months due to the migration of wild birds. It is a disease that mainly affect birds, although it can also affect humans and other mammals.
The risk to human health is very low and it does not pose a food safety risk but people should not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that they find.
It can be transmitted directly from bird to bird or via the environment in wild bird droppings, contaminated feed or by dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear.
A confirmed outbreak can be devastating with infected birds having to be culled, exclusion measures put in place and restrictions on trade.
The East Riding is within the national avian influenza prevention zone, which was introduced in November, this already requires all keepers of poultry and captive birds to take biosecurity measures and keep records.
To ensure good biosecurity bird keepers should:
- 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
- keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to a vet.
All poultry keepers are encouraged to register their birds on the GB Poultry Register so they can be contacted should there be an outbreak of the disease in their areas. This is a legal requirement for keepers of more than 50 birds.
Councillor Kerri Harold, portfolio holder for public health and tackling inequalities at East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: “It is vitally important that all owners of poultry and captive birds take the necessary steps and have good biosecurity measures in place to protect their birds and are vigilant for signs of the disease.
“All poultry keepers have an important role in preventing outbreaks of bird flu as an outbreak of the disease in a backyard flock has the same devastating implications as an outbreak on a commercial farm.”
For more information go to www.eastriding.gov.uk/environment/pests-dogs-and-animals/animal-disease-control