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Bird flu – Latest situation: Chief Vet urges bird keepers to maintain biosecurity as housing order introduced in the East of England

All bird keepers should maintain strict biosecurity measures until further notice to keep their birds safe from avian influenza.

Current situation

Regional housing measures for poultry and captive birds are to be introduced in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex from 00:01 on Wednesday 12 October to help stop the spread of avian influenza (‘bird flu’).

This means that all bird keepers in these hotspots must keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks, of whatever type or size. The Chief Veterinary Officer is now encouraging all bird keepers in the affected regions to use the next few days to prepare, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their private vet and expand housing where necessary.

The new housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity measures that were brought in as part of the regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) last month.

In addition to this, a regional AIPZ remains in place across Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset, where keepers must follow biosecurity measures. Maps of the regional AIPZs and housing measures are in our declarations.

The UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 170 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021. Check the list of confirmed avian influenza cases.

The regional housing measures and AIPZs will remain in place until further notice, and will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of avian influenza.

This does not apply to the rest of England, but all bird keepers should still follow enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks. However, additional restrictions also apply to in disease control zones in force surrounding infected premises.

The wild bird risk across Great Britain is maintained at medium and the risk to poultry with stringent biosecurity is maintained at low. However, the risk to poultry with poor biosecurity has been increased to medium, in light of the increased number of infected premises observed during September and the distance of some of these, as well as wild bird cases, from the coast. All bird keepers should follow enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks.

Dr Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, said:

We are seeing a growing number of bird flu cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across the country driven by high levels of disease within wild birds. Unfortunately we expect the number of cases to continue to rise over the coming months as migratory birds return to the UK, bringing with them further risk of disease that can spread into our kept flocks.

We’re taking action already by implementing  regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zones and housing measures in the worst-affected areas, but it is important that all bird keepers – wherever they are in the country – ensure that cleanliness and hygiene are at the forefront of their minds to keep their flocks safe and limit the impact of the outbreak.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find and instead report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs.

All poultry gatherings, including at fairs, shows and markets, remain banned, due to a large number of flocks mixing together and the risk posed by any infections spreading across the country.

Avian influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry or captive birds.

Advice to poultry keepers

All bird keepers must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.

All bird keepers (whether they are pet birds, a commercial farm or just a few birds in a backyard flock) can remain vigilant and help prevent avian influenza should:

  • 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 production
  • thoroughly clean 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

It is a legal requirement for bird keepers in the regional AIPZ to take these biosecurity measures.

See our biosecurity advice for more information.

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

Cases in England

For details of the current avian influenza H5N1 cases in England and the measures that apply in the disease control zones around these cases, see the avian influenza: cases and disease control zones in England guidance.

Check if you are in a zone on our interactive map.

Wild birds

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.

You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:

  • one or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species

APHA 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.

For further details see the report (updated weekly) of findings of HPAI in wild birds in Great Britain and our outbreak assessments.

Sick or injured wild birds should not be reported to the Defra Helpline. Instead Sick birds should be reported in England and Wales to the RSPCA (0300 1234 999) and in Scotland to the SSPCA (0300 999 999) who dependent on the situation may be able to offer assistance.

Register your birds

You should register your poultry, even if only kept as pets, so we can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

Register for Disease Alerts

To receive immediate notification of new cases and details of disease control and prevention zones in GB sign up to the APHA’s Animal Disease alert subscription service further details can be found at

Further information

For bird flu guidance in:

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