Avian Flu


Service: Public Protection
Further Enquiries to:
Date Prepared: 01/11/2022
Following a UK-wide increase in the number of detections of Avian Influenza (bird flu) in wild birds
and on commercial premises, last week the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and
Wales declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain to mitigate the risk
of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.
It is likely that cases will become more common in the UK and the county so we thought it would be
useful to share information with you, should you receive any enquiries from your local communities.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a highly infectious viral disease affecting the respiratory,
digestive and / or nervous system of many species of birds.
Avian Influenza is not airborne. It is spread by movement of infected birds or contact with respiratory
secretions and in particular faeces, either directly or through contaminated objects, clothes and
The severity of disease depends upon the strain of the virus and the type of bird infected. Some
strains known as ‘Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza’ (HPAI) viruses have the potential to cause
severe disease in poultry, associated with a high death rate (up to 100%). The disease can develop
so rapidly that birds may die without showing any previous signs of disease.
Prevention and control of HPAI is critical to the health and welfare of animals, the economy and
international trade.
Humans and other animals can be infected through close contact with live infected birds. The cases
of this occurring are extremely limited and the risk to human health is normally negligible. The UK
Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and
the risk to the general public’s health is very low.
The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, Avian
Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry
products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
Avian Influenza is unconnected with COVID-19.
Briefing Note No. 22-22
Avian Influenza update
November 2022
It is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures
to help protect their flocks from the threat of Avian Influenza
We are reminding bird keepers, whether they have pets or commercial flocks, to keep a close
watch on their birds for signs of disease, maintain good biosecurity and follow the latest guidance.
People should not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick wild birds that they find. They should
call the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77 if they find:
• One or more dead bird of prey or owl
• Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
• Five or more dead birds of any species
If they are not needed for Avian Influenza surveillance purposes, there is advice for members of the
public to follow for the disposal of dead garden birds.
If anyone suspects any type of Avian Influenza in poultry or captive birds they must report it
immediately by calling the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
Latest situation
Mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds are to be introduced to all areas of
England from 00:01 on Monday 7 November 2022, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s
Chief Veterinary Officer.
The housing measures legally require all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow
stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease, regardless of type or
The order will extend the mandatory housing measures already in force in the hot spot area of
Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Essex to the whole of England following an increase in the national
risk of bird flu in wild birds to very high.
Over the last year, the United Kingdom has faced its largest ever outbreak of Avian Influenza with
over 200 cases confirmed since late October 2021. The introduction of the housing measures
comes after the disease was detected at over 70 premises since the beginning of October, as well
as multiple reports in wild birds.
More information about the housing order can be found at Avian influenza: Housing order to be
introduced across England – GOV.UK (
In addition to the AIPZ, which is already in force, this means all bird keepers across England must:
• house or net all poultry and captive 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
• keep records of mortality, movement of poultry and poultry products and any changes in
• 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
• prevent access by poultry to ponds and watercourses and ensure that birds are kept in
fenced or enclosed areas
There is currently a case of Avian Influenza among captive birds at a premises in Amesbury. When
cases like this are confirmed a 3km captive bird-controlled zone is set up which helps to mitigate any
ongoing transmission (more information can be found below in the ‘Local Authority Role’ section).
The Government regularly updates its dedicated webpage, which includes details of the latest
confirmed cases across the country. The webpage can be found at Avian influenza (bird flu) –
The Wiltshire Council website also has some information about Avian Influenza. It can be found at
Livestock health and welfare – Wiltshire Council.
Local authority role
On confirmation of a case the local authority (lead by the Animal and Plant Health Agency) assists
in the disease control response. This is primarily done by foot patrols where staff target all premises
within 3km of an infected premises to locate all captive birds kept. This is to ensure APHA is aware
of all bird keepers so they can conduct inspections to check for signs of disease.
Other responses include:
• Promote and encourage poultry keepers to comply with the Prevention Zone Measures (via
our external communications channels) and other guidance in place
• Active enforcement in the event of non-compliance i.e., keepers refusing to house birds
• Carcass disposal – Where dead birds are on public land it is the local authority’s
responsibility to safely dispose of the carcasses as animal by-products where it is warranted
• Placement of road signage indicating the beginning/end of a disease zone
• Closure of footpaths or rights of way if necessary (indicated by APHA)
We will keep you updated should there be any significant updates. If you have any questions, please
do not hesitate to email