Bird flu: New rules for UK poultry keepers to contain avian flu outbreak

Similar measures were imposed last Christmas to contain bird flu and it was effective, ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills explains

The government is bringing in new measures for bird and poultry keepers to contain an outbreak of avian flu.

It comes after a number of confirmed cases of the H5N1 strain of the virus in recent weeks, with several detected in North Yorkshire.

There will be a new legal requirement for bird owners to bring all chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese indoors from Monday.

There will be further safety measures - including regular cleaning and disinfecting and limiting access to non-essential workers or visitors - to protect the captive birds from avian influenza that could be brought in by wild birds migrating to the UK.

The rules apply for anyone keeping birds, whether they have just a few or thousands.

In a joint statement the Chief Veterinary Officers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said: "We have not taken this decision lightly, taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease."

But the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) stressed the risk to human health is very low and said properly cooked poultry products, including eggs, can be safely consumed.

Chickens were culled in a farm in Scotland in 2016, when a "mild strain" of bird flu was confirmed. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

Four premises in North Yorkshire have had confirmed cases of bird flu since November 14, with the latest three confirmed since Sunday.

There have also been cases in Norfolk, Essex, Cheshire, Cumbria, South Derbyshire, Bournemouth, and Lancashire.

A list of safety measures that bird keepers must follow can be found on the government's website.

People are advised not to touch any dead or sick birds they find and to report them to Defra by calling 03459 33 55 77.