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Avian influenza (bird flu)

UK wide mandatory housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds against avian flu (bird flu) have now been lifted.

Poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed, unless they are in a current protection zone and will be allowed to be kept outside.

Enhanced biosecurity requirements remain in force as bird flu risk reduced to 'medium'

Avian influenza is a highly infectious disease affecting many species of birds, including commercial, wild and pet birds.

National restrictions introduced in November 2021 stated captive birds and poultry needed to be housed as a legal requirement. While the housing restriction was lifted on Monday 2 May 2022 people keeping birds must continue to follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread of bird flu.

The lifting of housing restrictions does not apply to bird keepers living in areas where there are current outbreaks, which includes 2 current outbreaks in Derbyshire.

The latest Derbyshire case was confirmed on 22 April 2022 at premises near Ilkeston, Erewash, affecting a backyard flock of chickens, geese and ducks. A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Bird keepers must continue to keep their flocks housed if they are in the 3km zone.

There was also a confirmed outbreak in wild birds at Straw's Bridge Local Nature Reserve in West Hallam on 16 March 2022 after the death of 13 swans and geese.

Find out how to spot avian influenza (bird flu), what to do if you suspect it, and measures to prevent it in the latest government bird flu guidance.

Bird flu is primarily a disease of birds. It's caused by influenza viruses closely related to human influenza viruses.

The risk of captive birds being infected by avian flu rises in the winter months due to migratory birds arriving in Britain.

Avian flu symptoms

Birds with avian influenza may have the following symptoms:

  • swollen head
  • blue discolouration of the neck or throat
  • loss of appetite
  • respiratory distress such as gasping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling and rattling
  • diarrhoea
  • increased mortality

Poultry keepers and members of the public must be vigilant.

Reporting to DEFRA

If you keep captive birds such as poultry, including as pets, and you suspect avian influenza you must report this to DEFRA tel: 0300 0200301.

If you see a dead wild bird these must be reported to DEFRA, tel: 03459 335577 (select option 7). Good location information for a dead or diseased bird is very important. If you use a location app such as 'what3words', references can be very helpful.

The Food Standards Agency advised that avian influenza in poultry does not pose a food safety risk, and Public Health England has advised that the risk of transmission of avian influenza to humans is very low.

Read further details about avian influenza data and analysis.

Register your flock

You can help prevent the spread of disease and protect the national poultry flock by registering your flock (however small) on the Poultry Register.