Officials have made a renewed plea for vigilance among bird keepers following several new cases of avian flu in England and Scotland.
Restrictions are currently in place in six areas in response to outbreaks, which have all been confirmed since a Great Britain-wide prevention zone for poultry and captive birds was lifted last month.
The risk of poultry exposure is currently assessed as being low, with increased confidence where strict biosecurity is in place.
But, in response to the new cases, APHA urged birdkeepers to “remain vigilant and follow stringent biosecurity measures to prevent future outbreaks”.
The latest published Defra assessment also warned of the potential for increased interactions with wild birds, particularly black headed gulls, for whom the risks from the virus remain high.
The document said: “It is important that biosecurity is maintained to the highest extent possible to mitigate against the risk of infection posed by wild birds across Great Britain.”
Most of the current cases are in Scotland, with protection and surveillance zones currently in place in parts of Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Highland and the Isle of Lewis.
Similar restrictions also apply in Kent following a case near the village of Elham.
News of several of the Scottish cases have also coincided with the publication of a new response plan by the Scottish Government, which sets out guidance for regulators, researchers, environmental bodies and the wider public on issues relating to the virus.
Environment minister Gillian Martin said: “The effectiveness of our multi-agency response in monitoring the spread of the virus can build our understanding of the outbreak and what mitigation measures might be helpful. The publication of this plan is designed to support this.”
The document also warned further measures are likely to be necessary if a strain that can spread between birds and humans is detected.
Credit to: Warning to bird keepers follows new avian flu cases in England and Scotland (Vet Times)
Vet Times. (2023). Warning to bird keepers follows new avian flu cases in England and Scotland [online]