Specific risks

3. Avian Flu

There have been several cases of Avian Flu in both wild birds and poultry across Europe since November 2016. Information about Avian Flu can be found on the DEFRA website Avian Influenza page.  

Information for those who need to report an animal notifiable disease (including Avian Flu) is provided on the DEFRA animal notifiable disease webpages.

Avian Influenza is an infectious disease of birds, not humans.  Public Health England provide public health advice on Avian Influenza (PHE).


Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) announced - 11 November 2020

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading.

This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to:

  • restrict access for non-essential people on their sites
  • ensure workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures
  • ensure site vehicles are cleaned and disinfected regularly

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese are also urged to strengthen their biosecurity measures in order to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK.

Risk to public health

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The prevention zone means bird keepers across the country must:

  • ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
  • feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
  • minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
  • clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy
  • reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to Defra helpline 03459 33 55 77.

Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice and report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

New measures introduced for bird keepers

The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.

The new housing measures, which will come into force on 14 December, mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

These housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November. The AIPZ means that all poultry and captive bird keepers need to take extra precautions, such as cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and workers changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures.


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Last updated: 7 December 2020

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