Farming News - Avian influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises in Essex

Avian influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises in Essex

11 Nov 2021
Frontdesk

Update 11 November 2021: Avian influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in birds at a premises near Frinton-on-Sea, Tendring, Essex, England. Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place surrounding the premises.

Update 9 November 2021: Following confirmation of H5N1 HPAI in a small poultry unit at a premises near Alcester, Bidford, Warwickshire, the UK is no longer free from avian influenza under the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) rules. See the trade, import and export issues section for further information.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Great Britain effective from 5pm on 3 November 2021 - see the AIPZ section for further information.

Gatherings of poultry, galliforme or anseriforme birds are not permitted. Galliforme birds include pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkey and guinea fowl. Anseriforme birds include ducks, geese, and swans. See the bird gatherings guidance for further information.

There have been multiple findings of HPAI H5N1 in wild birds from sites across Great Britain. See the wild birds in England section for further information.

Avian influenza has been confirmed in birds at premises in England, Wales, and Scotland. See the cases in the UK section for further information. For details of the cases and the measures that apply in the disease control zones in England, see the avian influenza: cases and disease control zones in England guidance.

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Great Britain effective from 5pm on 3 November 2021. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.

You must:

  • keep free-ranging birds in fenced areas to minimise contact with wild birds, neigbouring poultry or captive birds
  • inspect outdoor areas, removing wild bird contaminants like faeces, feathers and wild bird carcases
  • fence off or put netting over areas of standing water or ponds
  • provide feed and water undercover, so wild birds can’t access it
  • make your premises unattractive to wild birds. Use bird scarers, foils or streamers
  • keep ducks and geese separate from other poultry
  • store bedding under cover to reduce the risk of contamination
  • clean and disinfect footwear before and after tending to your birds. If you own more than 50 birds, place foot dips containing government approved disinfectant at all entry and exit points
  • clean and disinfect hard surfaces regularly
  • clean and disinfect equipment and vehicles to avoid disease spread between premises
  • minimise the movement of people, vehicles and equipment to and from bird areas and keep records of movements
  • keep records of poultry, captive bird and egg movements
  • maintain buildings that house birds to prevent water ingress
  • ensure pest control is effective

Further details of the measures that apply in the AIPZ in England can be found in the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declaration (PDF, 184KB, 7 pages).

Separate AIPZ declarations have been made in each Great Britain administration. For further information on the AIPZ in:

To assist all bird keepers in complying with the new rules, we’ve updated the biosecurity guidance and self-assessment checklist.

The decision to implement the AIPZ on the 3 November 2021 was made due to evidence from Europe and on avian influenza findings in wild birds in Great Britain. It follows a risk assessment containing the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

The AIPZ now in force across Great Britain, does not include a requirement to house birds. However, this is being kept under constant review. With the increased risk of avian influenza during the winter, the need to include a mandatory housing requirement in the AIPZ may happen. Further disease control measures will be based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

Risk level

The risk of incursion of highly pathogenic (HPAI) avian influenza H5 in wild birds has increased from medium (event occurs regularly) to high (event occurs often) for wild birds.

The risk of poultry and captive bird exposure to HPAI H5 across Great Britain has increased from low (with medium uncertainty) to medium (with medium uncertainty) where biosecurity on premises is below the required standard. Where stringent biosecurity measures are in place, the risk has increased from low (with low uncertainty) to low (with medium uncertainty).

All bird keepers are encouraged to maintain high standards of biosecurity as good practice for the health of their birds, and that good biosecurity is an essential defence against diseases such as avian influenza and is key to limiting the spread of avian influenza in an outbreak.

Further details on the evidence which supported these decisions can be found in our risk assessments.

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 coronavirus (COVID-19).

See the advice for the public for further information.

Cases in the UK

Cases in England

The following cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in England:

  • near Alcester, Bidford, Warwickshire (small commercial poultry flock)
  • near Droitwich Spa, Wychavon, Worcestershire (rescue centre - captive birds - non-poultry)

The following case of avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity pending) has been confirmed in England:

  • near Frinton-on-Sea, Tendring, Essex

For details of these cases and the measures that apply in the disease control zones, see the avian influenza: cases and disease control zones in Englandguidance.

Cases in Scotland

The following case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been confirmed at a premises in Scotland:

  • in the Angus constituency

See the Scottish Government website for further information.

Cases in Wales

The following case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been confirmed at a premises in Wales:

  • near Chirk, Wrexham, Wales (backyard chickens and wild birds)

See the Welsh Government website for further information.

Cases in Northern Ireland

There have been no cases of avian influenza confirmed in Northern Ireland during the 2021 to 2022 season.

See the DAERA-NI website for further information.

Wild birds in the UK

Wild bird surveillance in Great Britain

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carries out year-round avian influenza surveillance of dead wild birds submitted via public reports and warden patrols.

There have been multiple findings of HPAI H5N1 in wild birds from sites across GB. For further details see the report (updated weekly) of findings of HPAI in wild birds in Great Britain and our outbreak assessments.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defrahelpline (03459 335577).

We then collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird, not all birds will be collected.

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information see our advice to the public.

Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) carry out routine surveillance of disease risks in the UK and around the world to help us anticipate future threats to animal health and continue to closely monitor the global situation of avian influenza as part of this work. Further details of the latest avian influenza findings in wild birds in Europe can be found in our outbreak assessments.

Wild bird surveillance in Northern Ireland

See the DAERA-NI website for further information on surveillance for avian influenza in wild birds in Northern Ireland.