BIRD KEEPERS ENCOURAGED TO INCREASE BIOSECURITY FOLLOWING BIRD FLU OUTBREAK

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Keepers of birds across the Isle of Wight are being encouraged to apply extra biosecurity following a confirmed outbreak of Bird Flu in Dorset.

On Friday (12th January) DEFRA confirmed the finding of Avian Influenza H5N6 in 17 wild birds in South Dorset – the first time Bird Flu has been found this winter.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been established in Weymouth and Portland which means strict, legal requirements have been put in place. Although there are no legal requirements to increase biosecurity here on the Isle of Wight, the government is encouraging keepers of poultry or captive birds – whether commercial or not – to do so.

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The North and West sides of the Island are said to be high risk areas for Bird Flu.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said:

“This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

“As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds – whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm – is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected.

What to do if you keep poultry and captive birds

If you keep poultry – whether that’s a few birds in your garden or a large commercial flock – you should take steps now to review your biosecurity; register your birds with APHA; report any sick birds and sign up for disease alerts.

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Review your biosecurity

Bird flu is spread by direct contact between birds and through contamination in the environment, for example in bird droppings. This means wild birds carrying the disease can infect domestic poultry, so the best way to reduce the risk of your poultry catching bird flu is to minimise chances for them to come into contact with wild birds or their droppings by practising good biosecurity.

You should review your biosecurity measures now, as the risk level may increase in the coming weeks. This means reading government guidance on good biosecurity and taking action to:

• minimise movement in and out of your bird enclosure
• clean footwear before and after visiting your birds
• keep bird enclosures clean and tidy and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces
• humanely control rats and mice
• place birds’ food and water in fully-enclosed areas that wild birds cannot access, and remove any spilled feed
• keep your birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access
• make sure equipment, feed and bedding are stored undercover so they cannot be contaminated by wild birds
• where possible keep chickens and turkeys separate from ducks and geese

Register your birds

All keepers are encouraged to register their birds with Defra so that they can contact you quickly if there is a disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action. If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises. Find out how to register your birds.

Report signs of disease

If you suspect disease in your own flock, or you find dead wild birds such as wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey, you must let Defra know. Call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Sign up for disease alerts

By signing up to the free disease alert system you will get text alerts and emails informing you of the latest news about bird flu and Newcastle disease outbreaks in Great Britain.

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