CVO issues warnings as avian influenza zone measures ease

UK CVO Christine Middlemiss has urged bird keepers to continue to follow enhanced biosecurity measures when formal restrictions are lifted tomorrow (August 16) following the country’s worst avian influenza outbreak.

An avian influenza prevention zone (AIPZ) was put in place for the whole of Great Britain in November following discussions between Dr Middlemiss and her counterparts in Scotland and Wales. Similar measures were also introduced in Northern Ireland, but have since been revoked.

Creation of the AIPZ required all bird keepers – whether of backyard poultry, commercial flocks or pets – to take additional biosecurity precautions. It was later backed by restrictions, also since lifted, that required all birds to be housed.

Largest outbreak

UK CVO Christine Middlemiss.

Defra said the UK faced its largest ever bird flu outbreak, with more than 130 confirmed cases reported since late October.

It said scrupulous biosecurity was the most effective method of available disease control, and Dr. Middlemiss reiterated that while the risks had reduced, all bird keepers should ensure they continue to follow enhanced measures after the AIPZ is lifted at noon.

She said: “Now we are in the summer months and experiencing higher temperatures, the risk to poultry has now been reduced across Great Britain and so the time is right to lift the [AIPZ].”

Hard work

Dr. Middlemiss added: “This would not have been possible without the hard work of all bird keepers, who have upheld high biosecurity standards for many months.

“However, there are still localized areas of risk as we have seen recently, and therefore, it’s vital that everyone keeps biosecurity and cleanliness at the forefront of their minds to keep their flocks safe.”

Poultry gatherings, including fairs, shows and markers, remain banned due to continued risk of disease spread.

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