Bird flu: Lockdown set for birds as owners told to keep pets and poultry inside

Bird flu arrives in the UK every winter, it is brought here by migratory birds that then come into contact with domestic birds.

The chief vet has identified a strain of the disease - H5N1 - which is highly contagious and deadly for poultry and it is moving to contain it.Seventeen places in the UK already have confirmed outbreaks of bird flu. There are protection and surveillance zones in place around these sites.

ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills explains whether there is a cause for concern over the bird flu strain H5N1

Vets are testing poultry flocks, where cases are identified flocks are destroyed. There are also restrictions on exports.From Monday, all kept birds - chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks - will have to be brought indoors.

This will affect everyone in the UK, from farmers who produce free-range eggs to people who keep chickens in their back garden.I’ve spoken to two heads of the British Veterinary Association this evening - one past, one present.The advice is:DO NOT touch or pick-up any dead or sick birds.

DO report any dead or sick birds to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and keep eating eggs and poultry, as long as they are cooked properly, they are safe.

“The risk to human health is very low,” Professor Peter Jinman told ITV News.

“Those working with, and therefore in close contact, with birds are most at risk but any risk there is can be minimised by regular hand washing and wearing protective clothing that can be easily disinfected with approved disinfectants.”The main concern is protecting poultry and ensuring H5N1 doesn’t get into large poultry production plants in the run up to Christmas.

The main concern is ensuring H5N1 doesn’t get into large poultry production plants in the run up to Christmas. Credit: PA

Farmers are already grappling with labour shortages and supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the end of free-movement, post Brexit. This will be source of additional anxiety.A UK-wide Housing Order was imposed last winter and proved effective. The hope is it will be again.