A Producers Guide to Avian Influenza

egg-cta

The latest situation on Avian Influenza

 

The AI situation in the UK is changing all the time. The UK has been experiencing AI outbreaks throughout the last few weeks, and the following links will help answer any questions you might have.

CLICK HERE FOR THE MOST UP TO DATE INFORMATION

Guidance on biosecurity measures for poultry and kept birds maybe found in Animal Health Act biosecurity guidance via https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

Anyone who keeps poultry or other captive birds must keep a close watch on them for any signs of disease, and must seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. For details of how to report suspicion of disease see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.

Details of the latest outbreaks can also be seen at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#latest-update

Click HERE to view the APHA Interactive Disease Map 

Ramp up your bio-security

Minimum biosecurity measures applying to all keepers

Any keeper of poultry (including game birds and pet birds) or other captive birds irrespective of how they are kept must take appropriate and practicable steps, that can be demonstrated to an inspector on request, to ensure that everything possible is being done to prevent avian influenza infecting your farm. Click on the following link to see the list of preventative measures required by law under the prevention zone regulations.

Click here for more details

Within a HPAI 10km Protection Zone you must:

Not move poultry, other captive birds or mammals (including pigs and cattle) to or from premises where poultry or other captive birds are kept (exceptions apply for pet animals) unless under licence.

Not move poultry meat, carcasses, litter, eggs, other livestock or animals within or outside of the zone unless under licence. Table eggs may be sent direct to wholesale or retail premises without a licence.

Pack any eggs going to a designated packing centre in disposable packaging.

Record any individuals visiting the premises where poultry or other captive birds are kept. Exceptions include zoos or wildlife parks (providing the public has no access to areas where birds are kept) and on public rights of way.

Keep a record of all poultry or poultry eggs entering or leaving premises within the zone, except where eggs are being moved direct to retail premises or onwards from such premises.

Ensure appropriate biosecurity measures are in place for people and vehicles entering or leaving premises where poultry, other captive birds or eggs are kept – disinfectants must be from the approved list.

Ensure anyone who moves any poultry, other captive bird, meat, feed, manure, slurry, litter or any other thing which may be contaminated cleanses and disinfects the vehicle and any equipment used to transport that thing as soon as it is unloaded.

Not remove or spread poultry litter, manure or slurry unless under licence.

Not permit any poultry or captive birds to be exhibited at any fair, market, show, or gathering.

Not release game birds.

Anyone involved in the transport or marketing of poultry or poultry eggs must also make a record of those that are transported or marketed.

For a full list of licences click here

Within a HPAI 3km Protection Zone you must:

Keep poultry and other captive birds housed inside their buildings. If this is impractical or significantly detrimental to welfare, then a veterinary inspector may direct you to isolate birds without housing them.

Ensure that all carcasses that are not seized or disposed of by a veterinary inspector are disposed of in accordance with their instructions.

Adhere to strict biosecurity on and off the farm and follow any additional measures as directed by a veterinary inspector.

Also, follow the controls listed for the 10km surveillance zone above.

For a full list of licences click here

Licensing

 

If your premises are in a Protection Zone, Surveillance Zone or Restricted Zone, a movement license will be required for certain activities. Movement licenses can be obtained from the APHA by calling 03000 200 301 or by emailing outbreak.licensing@apha.gov.uk.

General licenses allow a movement or activity that would otherwise be prohibited in England and Wales. You need to check that you meet and comply with the conditions of the general license. If you do so, you do not need to apply – you can rely on the general license as providing authority for the movement or activity.

For a full list of licences click here

Why we house: lessons learned from the H5N8 outbreak of 2016/17

 

Four years on from the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the winter of 2016/17, free range producers face the HPAI H5N8 virus’s risk or face movement restrictions and licensing in a 10km restricted zone.

Click here for more details

Avian Influenza webinar featuring CVO Christine Middlemiss

Avian Influenza Q&A

Q. What is a Notifiable Disease?

Notifiable Diseases are those which must, by law, be reported to government authorities. There are a large number of notifiable diseases of humans (eg Anthrax), animals (eg Swine Fever) and even of plants (eg Potato Brown Rot).

Q. What are the Notifiable Diseases of poultry?

Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease.

Q. Why are these diseases classified as notifiable?

The notifiable diseases of livestock are generally highly infectious and highly virulent leading to significant disease in their host animal as well as having the ability to cause huge disruption to local and international trade.

Q. Do we have Avian Influenza or Newcastle Disease in the UK?

Instances of Avian Influenza have been reported in Turkeys, Broiler Breeders and other captive and wild birds. There has not been a case of Newcastle Disease in the UK since 2008.

Q. How do we know that these diseases are not circulating unreported in the UK poultry population?

Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease can cause significant disease in poultry species (particularly chickens and turkeys). There is a strict legal framework which demands that any suspicion of notifiable disease MUST be reported to the appropriate government authority (eg APHA). In addition to this the government conducts routine surveillance for Avian Influenza by blood testing of premises selected at random.

Q. Why does the government conduct this additional testing for Avian Influenza?

A significant amount of our international trade in live poultry and hatching eggs demands that we can demonstrate freedom from infection. A combination of active surveillance (eg actively looking for the disease) and the absence of known reported cases provide the required disease free status.

Q. What happens if I think that I might have a notifiable disease in my flock of laying hens?

You are legally obliged to report any suspicion of a notifiable disease to APHA. In practice one would expect that any episode of significant ill health, high mortality or significant drop in production would be discussed and investigated by your private veterinary surgeon. Where Avian Influenza is suspected it may be reported to APHA by the private vet or by the flock owner/keeper. In most cases signs of ill health, mortality or loss of production will be caused by other non-notifiable diseases for example Infectious Bronchitis or Erysipelas.

Q. What symptoms might suggest that my chickens have Avian Influenza?

Symptoms of disease can vary depending on the host species, stocking density and strain of AI involved. One or more of the following symptoms could raise the suspicion of infection with Avian Influenza: Large number of very sick looking birds (reluctant to stand or walk), inappetance, high temperature, swelling to the head, significant and rapid drop in egg production, significant and rapid drop in egg shell quality, noisy breathing, diarrhoea, red rash to the scaly areas of the leg, purple/blue discolouration to the comb and wattles. It is important to note that signs of disease may be much more mild and less concerning in ducks or with some strains of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

Q. So what is Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza?

The Avian Influenza virus can be categorised according to the proteins it carries. To date, only AI viruses of subtypes H5 and H7 have caused highly pathogenic infection in birds. Where Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza is diagnosed the government will implement control measures to prevent spread and eradicate the infection. This will mean movement restrictions and culling of the flock. Some strains of H5 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza have demonstrated the ability to mutate into Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. These strains will attract the same control measures as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. Other cases of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza would be dealt with and managed on a case-by-case basis.

Q. My birds are a little unwell and my vet doesn’t know what’s wrong with them. Could it be Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza?

Lots of non-notifiable diseases have the ability to cause significant drops in production, mortality or other signs of ill health. There is an expectation that any significant signs of ill health are properly investigated. In the rare event that a diagnosis cannot be reached or that flocks fail to respond as expected to treatment the government offer a testing service (testing to exclude) which allows for testing of birds at a government lab following consultation with an APHA vet. This service is generally used to prove the flocks are not infected with flu, offering peace of mind to the producer and vet. The cost of this testing is borne by the producer.

Q. How do I know if there is Avian Influenza in UK poultry?

Rumours about Avian Influenza spread very quickly due to the integrated nature of the industry. Farms with high mortality or heightened biosecurity arrangements may become the object of rumours about Avian Influenza even if these are unfounded. Furthermore, even where a suspect case of influenza has been reported or where “testing to exclude” is being undertaken the vast majority of these cases are demonstrated not to be a notifiable disease. The best advice is to disregard unfounded rumours whilst maintaining a constant high level of biosecurity. As soon as a case of avian Influenza is confirmed it will be publicised on the DEFRA website (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#latest-situation). Any text or email from an industry body alerting you to the presence of Avian Influenza in the UK should contain a link to the relevant signed “Declaration of a Protection Zone and a Surveillance Zone (Avian Influenza)” document.

Q. How do I manage my birds in a housing order?

For more information on managing your birds during a housing order CLICK HERE

Q. Where can I find the prevention zone map?

The interactive map is available here and shows the registered cases of AI together with the 3km and 10km zones. CLICK HEERE FOR THE MAP