Tuesday, December 06, 2016

DEFRA: UK Declares A Pre-Emptive Prevention Zone Against H5N8

H5N8 Spread as of Dec 4th- Credit ESA


Although the UK has yet to report H5N8 in wild birds or poultry, the virus has been detected just across the English Channel in France, and so today the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer has ordered a 30-day `Prevention Zone' to try to prevent infection.

The Government Chief Vet has declared a Prevention Zone introducing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, helping protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe. The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days.

Keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe. No cases of H5N8 have been found in the UK and this order is a precautionary measure to help prevent potential infection from wild birds.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the threat to human health remains very low.

Defra is continuing to monitor the situation closely and has increased its surveillance activity, while keepers are being urged to reinforce biosecurity measures on their premises.
Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said:

While no cases of H5N8 avian flu have been found in the UK, and PHE advises the public health threat is low, we are closely monitoring the situation across Europe and have scaled up surveillance in response to the heightened risk.
As a precaution, and to allow time for poultry and captive bird keepers to put in place appropriate biosecurity measures, we have declared a 30-day Prevention Zone to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.
Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity—for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds.
Poultry keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:
  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry – if practical, use disposable protective clothing;
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry are kept to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products and using effective vermin control;
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle;
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures; and
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.


Matt T. said...

Hi Mike, as a member of a small commmunity group keeping a few dozen free-range hens in the UK (not so large a flock that we are legally required to register with thw Government), i am focusing on the new Protection Zone requiring us to take steps so far as they are "appropriate and practicable". But i would like to know if there is any more info out there, or any informed forecasting, re how likely it is that we will see cases of H5N8 this winter in the UK, either in wild birds or in farmed flocks? In December 2014 there was just one case in East Yorkhire in ducks, and then no spread after that. Might this winter see most likely a similar low-key outcome? Grateful for any tips or pointers.

Michael Coston said...


I don't think anyone can accurately guess where H5N8 goes next. We fully expected it to return to North America last year after our major 2014-15 outbreak. But so far, it's been a no show.

It has been detected in Calais, which puts it very close to the UK. So I wouldn't bet against it.

But it hopped and skipped across the U.S., hitting some states very hard while barely affecting others. Good luck.