NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

A flock of free-range hens from a commercial premises near Gretna, Dumfriesshire, Dumfries and Galloway, has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1.

Scotland map/CIA

In order to limit the further spread of disease, appropriate restrictions have been imposed on the premises and any identified contact premises, plus the area of the Surveillance Zone, which overlaps into other regions.

The remaining birds at the premises will be humanely culled and a 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have been declared around the infected premises – taking effect 00:01 on 04 December – to limit the risk of spread 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, and restrictions on bird gatherings.

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Producers and bird keepers are reminded to comply with the Order to house birds, which came in to effect on 29 November, or to ensure their birds are kept separate from wild birds. Bird keepers must ensure they follow biosecurity procedures.

The additional housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in across Great Britain as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) on 3 November 2021 and in and Northern Ireland on 17 November 2021.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“With the recent disease confirmations in wild and captive birds across the UK, it is not unexpected for avian influenza to be found in birds here in Scotland. We ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds to Defra’s national telephone helpline. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find.”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said:

“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 birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species (including gulls) in the same location at the same time, should be reported to Defra’s national telephone helpline.

“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.”