The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs has declared an extension of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, covering the whole of Wales, by a further seven weeks, until 28 February.
The Declaration of an Extension of the Prevention Zone follows a case of Avian Influenza in a backyard flock in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire yesterday. This is the same strain of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) (H5N8) virus found in a wild duck in Llanelli on 22 December, a turkey farm in Lincolnshire on 16th December and wild, captive and domestic birds in many European countries, the Middle East and North Africa.
The Prevention Zone, originally introduced on 6th December 2016, enhanced biosecurity measures including a requirement for all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. Similar arrangements were also announced in England and Scotland on the same day and Northern Ireland on 23 December 2016. England and Scotland have announced extensions to their own Prevention Zones today.
The extension of the Prevention Zone does not affect the ability of poultry keepers to market their products as free range. Under EU legislation, poultry keepers are able to maintain their free range-status for a period of 12 weeks if Government issues such a declaration.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
“We have taken the decision to extend the Prevention Zone on the basis of expert advice and after consulting with our counterparts across the UK. This action aims to protect our poultry flocks and other domestic birds from the disease.
“My message to bird owners, including to back yard flock keepers, is to adhere to the requirements set out in the Prevention Zone, remain vigilant for signs of disease and practice good biosecurity at all times.
The Chief Veterinary Officer, Christianne Glossop added:
“I would encourage all poultry keepers to continue to be alert for signs of the disease and practice the highest levels of biosecurity. The movement of poultry should be minimised, and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected.”
“Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure that every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds.”
If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. If you suspect that your birds are showing signs of the disease you should immediately report it to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office.
Poultry keepers are encouraged to provide details of their flocks to the Poultry Register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately in the event of an avian disease outbreak so that they can take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.
Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.