West Dunbartonshire poultry farmers, people who keep game birds on bird rearing premises and bird watchers have been alerted that two birds have tested positive for avian influenza (H5N1).
In order to limit the further spread of disease from that farm in Leven, Glenrothes, restrictions have been imposed on the premises.
The government states that the remaining birds at the premises will be humanely culled and 3 km and 10 km temporary control zones have been set up around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease.
Within these zones a range of different controls are now in place. These include restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure.
Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.
Producers and bird keepers are reminded to comply with the order to house birds that came in to effect on the 14 December 2020, or ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and follow biosecurity procedures.
Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Ben Macpherson said: “The Scotland-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone remains in force. Whether you have just a few birds or thousands of birds, you are legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We continue to ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds.”
Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: “We are conducting further tests to establish the pathogenicity of avian influenza H5N1 in a flock of birds in Leven, Glenrothes.
“We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch to protect their birds from disease and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds. Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to provide practical advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.
“Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, falcons or other birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, should be reported to the Defra dead wild bird helpline.”
In light of evidence from the continent and ongoing high numbers of findings among wild bird populations in GB, the risk of incursion of avian influenza has been increased to very high for wild birds and medium for poultry with high biosecurity and high for poultry with poor biosecurity.
A cross-Government and industry poster outlining biosecurity advice can be downloaded.
Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.
If you find a single dead bird of prey, gull or wild waterfowl (particularly swans, geese or ducks) or find five or more birds of any other species in the same location and at the same time, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 – please select option 7). You should not touch or pick up the birds.
Keepers should familiarise themselves with the avian flu advice. You can report suspected case of disease by contacting your local APHA Field Services Office.
In GB, you are legally required to register your birds if you keep more than 50 birds. Keepers with less than 50 birds are strongly encouraged to register. It is also a legal requirement to notify APHA of any significant changes in the average number of birds kept.
Top picture: Jane Heaney at a poultry small holding in Cardross.