19 May 2021

National bird flu restrictions lifted

The government has this week announced the end of UK-wide controls designed to prevent the spread of avian influenza, known as bird flu.

The risk of avian influenza in poultry with good biosecurity has been reduced to ‘low’ for all birds which means that poultry keepers on the Isle of Wight no longer have to follow legal restrictions which have been in force since 11 December 2020.

Poultry flocks were allowed back outdoors last month after a mandatory housing order "lockdown" was lifted on April 1, and now all poultry and bird gatherings, such as poultry markets and shows, will also now be permitted, provided organisers notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Restrictions on access to Ryde Canoe Lake were also lifted in March this year when government guidance indicated that keeping pedestrians away from the waterfowl was no longer necessary.

Colin Rowland, the Isle of Wight Council's director of neighbourhoods said: "This is good news for people on the Island who keep birds, whether it's a commercial flock or just a few back garden hens.

"It's a curious coincidence that the birds are getting released from lockdown at almost the same time as the rest of us, but like us, just because the legal limits are being relaxed it is important to remain vigilant and act cautiously.

"Poultry keepers need to keep up high standards of biosecurity because bird flu could still be around, and anyone thinking of organising any kind of gathering or show involving domestic birds should look carefully at the current government advice before going ahead.

"Bird flu infections have a seasonal pattern, like human flu, and so it would not be a surprise if cases turn up later in the year - continued good biosecurity now will help make sure we are not hit with restrictions later."

Government information for poultry keepers, including the latest biosecurity advice

Public Health England has reviewed information from the World Health Organisation and says that avian influenza remains an uncommon infection in humans and the risk of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza to the UK human population is low. Avian influenza is unconnected with COVID-19 and does not affect the consumption of poultry products, including eggs.

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  • Poultry keepers need to keep up high standards of biosecurity because bird flu could still be around
 
Isle of Wight, UK