Avian Influenza Update 8th November 2023 Defra - Avian Influenza Latest Situation Risk Levels Following a reduction in the number of findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds the risk of HPAI H5 in wild birds has been reduced from high (event occurs very often) to medium (event occurs regularly). The risk of HPAI H5 remains low (event is rare but does occur) in poultry. Find out further information on the evidence that supports this change in our outbreak assessments. While the risk in wild birds has reduced the virus is still circulating in wild birds in Great Britain and all bird keepers should remain vigilant for signs of disease. The risk is continually reviewed and may increase again as autumn migration continues. Practicing good biosecurity at all times protects the health and welfare of your birds and for commercial keepers will help protect your business from HPAI and other diseases. Find out what you can do to prevent bird flu and stop it spreading and how to spot and report suspicion of avian influenza in poultry or other captive birds. To receive immediate notification of new cases and updated zones in GB please sign up to the APHA’s Animal Disease alert subscription service further details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apha-alert-subscription-service Keepers should maintain high standards of biosecurity at all times for the health and welfare of their birds. Good biosecurity is an essential defence against diseases such as avian influenza and is key to limiting the spread of avian influenza in an outbreak. Biosecurity guidance and a biosecurity self-assessment checklist have been published by Defra to assist all bird keepers in instigating and maintaining good biosecurity Reporting Suspicion of Avian Influenza in Poultry and other Captive Birds Keepers must keep a close watch on their birds for any signs of disease, and seek prompt advice from a vet if they have any concerns. Clinical signs indicative of avian influenza must be reported in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact to the local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence. See our Bird flu (avian influenza): how to spot and report it in poultry or other captive birds - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) guidance for further information Reporting Dead Wild Birds The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carries out year-round surveillance of dead wild birds submitted via public reports and warden patrols as part of its wild bird surveillance programme. In Great Britain members of the public are encouraged to report findings of dead wild birds using the online reporting system or by calling the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77). APHA triages reports and does not collect all birds. They adjust the collection thresholds for dead wild birds for different species to increase or decrease the sensitivity of surveillance. APHA and their contractors then collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand what risk posed to poultry and other captive birds is through understanding how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of wild bird, not all birds will be collected. APHA publish a report (updated weekly) on findings of HPAI in wild birds in Great Britain and further information on reports of avian influenza in wild bird in Great Britain and across Europe are available via APHAs outbreak assessments. We are unable to comment on any testing or reports that are not listed at this site as the results will not yet be ready for publication. APHA have also launched a new interactive map of reported wild bird mortality and findings of avian influenza virus (bird flu) in wild birds and wild mammals and an interactive data dashboard of findings of avian influenza virus in wild birds. Find out more on disposing of dead wild birds not required for surveillance in our Removing and disposing of dead wild birds - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) guidance. Further guidance on wild bird incidents is available through the Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales. Report dead wild birds in Northern Ireland to the DAERA Dead Wild Bird Online Reporting Tool | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (daera-ni.gov.uk) Reporting Suspicion of Influenza of Avian Origin in Wild Mammals Avian influenza (bird flu) viruses can also infect mammals. Find out how we monitor spill over of avian influenza virus from wild birds to wild mammals on GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/.../avian-influenza-bird-flu-infection-in-wild-birds-and-wild-mammals. If members of the public find a dead wild carnivore (e.g. fox, otter, pine marten, stoat, weasel, pole cat, mink) or marine mammal (e.g. seal, dolphin, porpoise, whale) where the cause of death is unknown, or the animal has shown signs of respiratory or neurological disease prior to death they should report it immediately to APHA by calling: 03000 200 301 if you’re in England 03003 038 268 if you’re in Wales your local Field Services Office if you’re in Scotland If you examine a wild mammal or a test a sample from a wild mammal and suspect or detect the presence of avian influenza virus or antibodies to avian influenza virus you must report it immediately to APHA using the telephone numbers above. If you do not report it, you’re breaking the law. See our guidance Influenza A (H5N1) infection in mammals: suspect case definition and diagnostic testing criteria on GOV.UK (https://www.gov.uk/.../influenza-a-h5n1-infection-in...). For further information on these cases and details of the measures that apply in the disease control zones currently in force see: England: https://www.gov.uk/animal-disease-cases-england Wales: https://gov.wales/avian-influenza-bird-flu-latest-update Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-outbreaks/ Northern Ireland: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai Outbreak Case Summary In summary, the following cases of avian influenza have been confirmed in the UK (outbreak seasons run from October to September): England 0 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2023/2024 160 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2022/2023 134 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2021/2022 Scotland: 1 case of HPAI H5N1 in 2023/2024 38 cases of HPAI H5N1 and 1 case of LPAI H7N3 in 2022/2023 11 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2021/2022 Wales: 0 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2023/2024 8 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2022/2023 7 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2021/2022 Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland achieved World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) self-declaration for zonal freedom from HPAI effective from 31 March 2023 (last case of HPAI confirmed on the 16 October 2022). 0 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2023/2024 1 case of HPAI H5N1 in 2022/2023 6 cases of HPAI H5N1 in 2021/2022 This is now the largest ever UK outbreak of avian influenza (prior to this the largest number of cases was 26 cases in 2020/2021 and 13 cases in 2016/2017). Update 21st April 2023 Avian Influenza Prevention Zone AIPZ mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds, which were introduced across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to help stop the spread of avian influenza, have been lifted from 00:01 on Tuesday 18 April 2023 (housing remains mandatory in Protection Zones and Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zones). This means that from 18 April 2023, eggs laid by birds with access to outside range areas can return to being marketed as ‘free range’ eggs. Avian Influenza Prevention Zones (AIPZ) with mandatory biosecurity requirements remains in force across the UK. Scrupulous biosecurity remains the most effective method of disease control available, and all bird keepers must continue to meet the enhanced biosecurity measures set out in the AIPZ declarations for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Housing Measures Press release: Bird keepers must maintain scrupulous biosecurity standards as housing measures set to be lifted - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) The Chief Veterinary Officer has announced that mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds, which were introduced across England to help stop the spread of avian influenza (‘bird flu’), will be lifted in England from 00:01 on Tuesday 18 April 2023, but scrupulous standards of biosecurity remain essential. AIPZ housing measures in Wales will be lifted at the same time (see Avian Influenza: Housing Order to be lifted on 18 April | GOV.WALES for further information). Following ongoing monitoring using the latest scientific evidence and a robust risk assessment, avian influenza risk levels have been reduced meaning poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed and can be kept outside, unless they are in a Protection Zone or Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone (see Bird flu: rules in disease control and prevention zones in England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for further information). Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents. See our biosecurity advice for more information. Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Housing Measures – Northern Ireland Press release: Avian Influenza Housing measures set to be lifted in Northern Ireland | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (daera-ni.gov.uk) The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has confirmed that the housing measures which were introduced in November 2022 to help stop the spread of avian influenza will be lifted from 00:01 on Tuesday 18 April 2023. The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone mandatory biosecurity measures will remain in force for all birds and all poultry gatherings remain banned. The decision to now withdraw this requirement is based on a number of parameters which indicate a reducing risk of an avian influenza incursion - including the fact that no case of bird flu has been confirmed in Northern Ireland in wild birds for a period of 5 weeks, reduced numbers of migratory waterfowl and increasing environmental temperatures and daylight hours. Excellent biosecurity remains the best defence for reducing the risk of transmission of avian influenza to poultry or other captive birds and it is vital that this remains a regular and instinctive part of all bird-keepers routines. More information on biosecurity and a self-assessment tool to aid flock keepers in the review of their biosecurity arrangements. Those who intend to allow their birds outside after 18 April are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents. Update 25th January 2023 Keepers can check where disease control zones and AIPZs are located in GB and if they are in a zone on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) interactive map, and in Northern Ireland on DAERA’s interactive map. To receive immediate notification of new cases and updated zones in GB please sign up to the APHA’s Animal Disease alert subscription service further details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apha-alert-subscription-service As Avian Influenza continues to have a significant impact the latest situation is constantly being updated. From 00:01 on the 7th November 2022 housing measures in England will be in force to protect poultry and captive birds. This means that, from this time, it is a mandatory requirement for all bird keepers across England to keep their birds housed, or where this is not practical, to take steps to separate them from wild birds. As well as housing it is also critical that biosecurity measures are in place to reduce the risk of disease spreading. Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-influenza-housing-order-to-be-introduced-across-england Breeders that have animals that are considered to be a breed at risk should complete and return the breeds at risk form to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). However this does not mean there is an automatic derogation from culling during an outbreak of exotic notifiable animal disease, more information can be found at: Culling during a disease outbreak Owners of breeds at risk animals should complete and send this form to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Breeds at Risk form Defra guidance of how to spot bird flu and how to report a suspected case: How to spot and report bird flu To stay up to date with the latest situation in each area follow the links below. England: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bird-flu-avian-influenza-latest-situation-in-england Northern Ireland: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/ai Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-outbreaks/ Wales: https://gov.wales/avian-influenza-bird-flu-latest-update Earlier in 2022 RBST discussed the impact Avian Influenza is having and how it is likely this is something we are going to have to live with for some time. RBST Trustee and poultry enthusiast Tom Davis is another who believes that AI should be regarded by the poultry world as a fact of life rather than an intermittent occurrence. As well as being a breeder in his own right, as manager of Mudchute City Farm, Tom has responsibility for the farm’s poultry. He says: “Last year, when we were looking to introduce new poultry housing, I decided to build pens that would be compliant with AI restrictions on the assumption of having to comply with a housing order.” “The birds are outside but in fully netted pens and we’ve used more robust fine metal netting to prevent tears that could allow wild birds in. We only feed inside the housing – again to protect from droppings from wild birds. With the waterfowl, the geese give us the greatest challenge because they are not great at being kept in for any length of time. However, we have created covered breeding pens to make sure they can run about, whilst remaining protected.” The full story can be found at: RBST- Living with Avian Flu To help bird keepers find out what they can do to keep their birds free of the disease, leading Defra epidemiologists and veterinary professionals hosted webinar events between December 2021 and March 2022, these can be found at: Stop the Spread Webinars 13th December 2022 New Online Reporting Service for Dead Wild Birds Launched Defra has launched a new online reporting system to be used by the public to report dead wild birds in Great Britain, as part of the Government response to the ongoing avian influenza outbreak. The new online system will be available to use 24/7, making is simpler and quicker for the public to report dead wild birds. It will not replace the Defra helpline, which will remain in place. In Great Britain members of the public should use the new online reporting system or call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if they find one or more dead birds of prey (such as an owl, hawk or buzzard), three or more dead birds that include at least one gull, swan, goose or duck or five or more dead wild birds of any species APHA and their contractors then collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand what risk posed to poultry and other captive birds is through understanding how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of wild bird, not all birds will be collected. Further guidance on reporting wild dead birds and details of the latest criteria used for how we prioritise reports made to Defra is published here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/report-dead-wild-birds. Where dead birds are not required for surveillance purposes and disposal is necessary, on public land it is the responsibility of Local Authorities to safely collect and dispose of carcases and on private land, it is the responsibility of the land owner/manager. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/removing-and-disposing-of-dead-wild-birds Our advice to the public is not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. In England and Wales the ‘Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales’ provides guidance on actions land managers, ornithologists and the general public, together with the government, can take to mitigate the impact of avian influenza on wild bird populations whilst protecting public health and the wider environment.