Avian Influenza 2020

November 23, 2020

Update 19 March 2021: GB Governments have announced plans to lift poultry housing measures from 23:59 on 31 March. The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone mandatory biosecurity measures remain in place for all birds. If you intend to allow your birds outside after 31 March you must take action now to prepare the outside areas, please check the information available

Update 3 December 2020: The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds. The new housing measures announced on the 3 December 2020, which will come into force on the 14 December 2020, mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

Some useful links and information regarding the current Bird Flu situation for ALL bird keepers

APHA page

Up-to-date Biosecurity Advice 

Biosecurity check list

APHA Interactive Map – to check if you’re in a high risk area

There are 2 types of avian influenza.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds are:

  • swollen head
  • blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • loss of appetite
  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • diarrhoea
  • fewer eggs laid
  • increased mortality

Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species (for example ducks and geese) may show minimal clinical signs, but can spread the disease to other species.

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.

The severity of LPAI depends on the type of bird and whether it has any other illnesses.

The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces. It can also be spread by contaminated feed and water or by dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear.

The avian influenza virus changes frequently, creating new strains, and there is a constant risk that one of the new strains may spread easily among people. But there is no evidence that any recent strain of avian influenza has been able to spread directly between people.

Avian influenza isn’t an airborne disease.

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 Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).

Pigeons or birds of prey

If your birds are within a disease control zone, make sure you check the restrictions applicable to that zone.

 08/12/2020 – Following a telephone conversation with APHA they have confirmed that should permanently housing your pigeons / birds of prey have a deleterious effect on the health / welfare of your bird(s) then you can allow them out for exercise (for example to a lure), but you should take all possible steps to prevent them from making direct contact with wild birds.

Keep a close watch on the health of your birds.