Since the beginning of November, Avian influenza has been found in unrelated cases across the UK.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading. All bird keepers are being urged to prevent direct or indirect contact with wild birds, with the risk of infection of poultry in Great Britain also being raised from ‘low’ to ‘medium’. It is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds. It’s essential all bird keepers, with both small and large numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese, strengthen biosecurity measures to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK.

Symptoms of avian influenza are:
> swollen head
> blue discolouration of neck and throat
> loss of appetite
> respiratory distress such as a gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling > diarrhoea
> fewer eggs laid
> increased mortality

Anyone who keeps poultry must keep a close watch on them for any signs of disease. Please seek prompt advice from your vet if you have any concerns.

Important points to note:
1. The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces. It can also be spread by contaminated feed and water or by dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear.
The avian influenza virus frequently changes, creating new strains, and there is a constant risk that one of the new strains may spread easily among people. But there is no evidence that any recent strain of avian influenza has been able to spread directly between people.
2. Avian influenza isn’t an airborne disease.
3. Avian influenza is unconnected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

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