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

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

From Monday, it will be a legal requirement for bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures in a bid to prevent the spread of bird flu.

The chief vet has identified a strain of bird flu - H5N1 - which is highly contagious and deadly for poultry.

Seventeen places in the UK already have confirmed outbreaks of bird flu including three locations in our region.

H5N1 avian influenza has been confirmed at a premises near Frinton-on-Sea and Maldon in Essex, and Wells-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk.

New rules for UK poultry keepers to contain avian flu outbreak Credit: PA Images

The new rules will affect everyone in the UK, from large commercial farmers to people who keep chickens in their back garden.

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

The housing measures will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks.

Credit: PA Images

Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s communities, social mobility and inclusion committee, said: "There have now been 18 confirmed cases of bird flu across Great Britain in less than a month, compared to 21 between last November and March this year. "I would like to stress that the risk to public health is very low, and properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are still safe to eat according to the Food Standards Agency."

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 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.