Bird flu: National prevention zone declared across Britain to stop spread of the disease

Bird flu can be spread to poultry (birds that are farmed to eat, or to lay eggs for human consumption). Credit: PA

A national bird flu prevention zone has been declared to stop the spread of the disease among poultry and other birds, veterinary health officials have announced.

The chief veterinary officers of Wales, England and Scotland have declared that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) comes into effect immediately.

For those with more than 500 birds inside the prevention zone (all of GB), some of the key measures include:

  • Restriction of non-essential people and workers on-site

  • Workers must change footwear and clothing before entering enclosures

  • Vehicles on site will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to halt the spread of the disease

Bird flu circulates naturally among wild birds. But it can be spread to poultry (birds that are farmed to eat, or to lay eggs for human consumption), and other captive birds when they migrate to the UK from abroad.

The risk to human health from the virus is very low and properly cooked poultry - and poultry products, including eggs - are safe to eat, UK health officials have said.

In a joint statement, the chief veterinary officers said to birdkeepers it is now in their interests to keep to the new measures to protect their birds from this highly infectious disease.

"The UK health agencies have confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and UK food standards agencies advise that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers", the statement said.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told ITV News there was a very low risk that bird flu would affect supply chains.