The British Veterinary Poultry Association and British Veterinary Association say Defra’s update of measures to contain the spread of avian influenza are “sensible and proportionate.”
The government anticipates adopting a more targeted approach from 28th February, with mandatory biosecurity measures across the country and continued housing or range netting in Higher Risk Areas. These measures will be reviewed at the end of April 2017.
“These measures are informed by the best scientific evidence available in what is a complex situation,” said a BVA spokesman. “We reiterate the calls for bird keepers in the Higher Risk Areas to keep their poultry separate from wild birds by using housing or netting.
“We know that for farmers and bird keepers in the Higher Risk Areas, this will not be the news they were hoping for, but it is vital that these important precautions are taken to protect the health of birds.
“We would also emphasise the need for bird keepers who are not in the Higher Risk Areas to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity, heeding the advice of government, and to remain vigilant to signs of the disease. Any suspicion of Avian Influenza should be reported to the Animal Plant and Health Agency immediately.
“The risk to public health from this strain of bird flu is very low, with the Food Standards Agency making clear that there is no food safety risk to consumers – with thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products still safe to eat.”
Currently, anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds is required by law to house them or, otherwise, keep them separate from wild birds to reduce the risk of disease spreading. This requirement remains in place until 28 February and guidance on how to comply is available online.
The proposed temporary measures are designed so keepers can allow birds outside from 28 February, whilst still taking reasonable precautions against avian influenza during the current outbreak. A final decision will be confirmed at the end of February.
Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from Avian Influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for UK consumers.
For further advice on avian influenza, contact the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.