An all-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone is being introduced to mitigate the risk of infection following recent confirmed cases in England, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths announced today.
The Prevention Zone came into force from 5pm on November 11.
Over the last two weeks, there have been findings in England of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 in domestic and wild birds.
A veterinary risk assessment for Great Britain shows that the risk level for disease in wild birds is now High. The risk associated with direct and indirect transmission to poultry has also increased to Medium.
Although there are currently no findings of Avian Influenza in Wales, as a precautionary measure in response to the increased risk level, an All Wales Avian Prevention Zone will be introduced.
The Prevention Zone will introduce mandatory enhanced biosecurity measures across Wales for all bird keepers, in order to protect their birds and the national flock. It will require all keepers of poultry and other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept, to take appropriate and practicable steps, including: Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources; Feed and water your 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.
Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take some extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.
Following implementation, the Prevention Zone will be reviewed regularly. The Prevention Zone will be supplemented by a temporary suspension of all bird gatherings across Wales.
The Minister said: “As a precautionary measure, in response to the increased risk level and to mitigate the risk of infection, I am declaring an All Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.
“Although there are currently no findings of Avian Influenza in Wales, this Prevention Zone and the requirement for enhanced biosecurity will help us manage the risk and spread of infection. It is essential we take steps to protect our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy in Wales.”
Chief Veterinary Officer Christianne Glossop said: “We are acting quickly in response to the recent findings in England and continue to monitor the situation very carefully. All keepers of poultry and other captive birds will need to comply with the additional mandatory requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. It is more important than ever bird keepers ensure they are doing all they can to practice the very highest levels of biosecurity and remain vigilant for signs of the disease. To support individual keepers in their endeavours, the Welsh Government will be implementing a temporary suspension of bird gatherings across Wales, preventing the risk of virus spread amongst and between our domestic poultry and other captive birds.
“I also continue strongly to encourage all poultry keepers, even those with fewer than 50 birds, to provide their details to the Poultry Register. This will ensure they are contacted immediately in an avian disease outbreak, enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity and minimise the spread of infection.”
Avian influenza is a notifiable disease and any suspicion should be reported immediately to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Information on the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, guidance and latest developments will be made available on the Welsh Government website