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‘Poultry owners must keep birds inside’ due to bird flu concerns

Poultry keepers must now keep chickens, hens, ducks and turkeys housed indoors where practicable, or keep them separate from wild birds, warns the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Animal and Plant Health Agency.

For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds where housing is less practicable, keepers must take steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

The Government chief vet has declared a Prevention Zone introducing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, helping protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe.

The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days.

Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe.

No cases of H5N8 have been found in the UK and this order is a precautionary measure to help prevent potential infection from wild birds.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the threat to human health remains very low.

Defra is continuing to monitor the situation closely and has increased its surveillance activity, while keepers are being urged to reinforce biosecurity measures on their premises.

Chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: “While no cases of H5N8 avian flu have been found in the UK, and PHE advises the public health threat is low, we are closely monitoring the situation across Europe and have scaled up surveillance in response to the heightened risk.

“As a precaution, and to allow time for poultry and captive bird keepers to put in place appropriate biosecurity measures, we have declared a 30-day Prevention Zone to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

“Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity—for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds.”

For more information visit the government website here.

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