Bird flu risk prompts poultry restrictions in Wales

Chickens Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Bird (avian) flu is a highly contagious disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds

An increasing risk of bird flu has prompted the Welsh Government to introduce restrictions.

An all-Wales prevention zone comes into force on Thursday, requiring keepers of poultry and other captive birds to take extra biosecurity measures.

They must also remain vigilant to signs of the disease and report any unexplained deaths or sickness.

There are currently no cases in Wales, but there have been three separate findings in England so far this month.

The risk of bird flu to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency said it did not pose a risk to UK consumers.

The prevention zone will require keepers of poultry and other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept, to take appropriate steps, including:

  • Ensure areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, by netting ponds and removing food sources
  • Feed and water birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
  • Minimise movement of people 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
Image copyright Thinkstock

A Welsh Government order which required poultry to be kept inside was in place in across Wales between December 2016 and February 2017.

It was in response to bird flu cases being found in Pontyberem and Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, and at a RSPB reserve in Conwy county.

The latest veterinary risk assessment for England and Wales shows the risk level for the disease in wild birds has increase from medium to high.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: "I consider this prevention zone and the requirement for enhanced biosecurity to be proportionate to the risk level faced in Wales.

"It is essential we take steps to protect our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy in Wales."

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