National measures introduced to control bird flu outbreak

New national restrictions will be rolled out next week to stop an outbreak of bird flu. 

It will become a legal requirement for birdkeepers to keep their animals housed and separate from wild birds from Monday.

The government announced the move after a number of cases were confirmed across the UK in recent weeks.

Bird flu has been detected in captive birds at several premises in Britain, including 15 cases in England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed.

There are fears birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter can carry avian influenza, which can spread among chickens, turkeys and other captive birds. 

Anyone keeping birds are being urged to take precautions like disinfecting clothing and reducing the number of visitors coming into contact with their flocks.

In a joint statement, the UK’s four chief veterinary officers said: ‘We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.

‘Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday 29 November onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

‘We have not taken this decision lightly, taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.’

The risk to human health from avian influenza remains very low, according to public health advice, and there is a low food safety risk.

Members of the public should not not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds and should instead should report them to Defra.

Earlier this month, a bird flu prevention zone was declared across Britain to try and stop the disease spreading among poultry and other birds.

It was announced that it would be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.

Defra said the new housing measures will be kept under regular review.

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