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Avian influenza (bird flu)

Defra has announced UK wide housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds against avian flu.


New housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds

Avian influenza is a highly infectious disease affecting many species of birds, including commercial, wild and pet birds. It may also affect people and other animals in certain circumstances. It's caused by a Type A influenza virus.

From Monday 29 November 2021 captive birds and poultry must be housed as a legal requirement and people keeping birds must follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread of bird flu. Read the latest on the bird flu situation at gov.uk.

A number of cases have now been confirmed across Britain including one near Willington in Derbyshire, and one near Tutbury, Staffordshire, which affects parts of South Derbyshire.

The outbreak in Willington was confirmed to be the highly pathogenic strain (HPAI H5N1). A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been declared around the premises.

The outbreak near Tutbury, Staffordshire, was confirmed by Defra on 2 December, and is also the highly pathogenic strain (HPAI H5N1). A 3km Protection Zone and 10K Surveillance Zone has been declared around the premises, and this affects parts of south Derbyshire.

See details of both outbreaks, and the protection and surveillance zones around them.  

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.

Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, is primarily a disease of birds. It's caused by influenza viruses closely related to human influenza viruses.

Avian influenza is a disease that mainly affects wild and captive birds such as poultry and game birds. The risk of captive birds being infected by avian flu rises in the winter months due to migratory birds arriving in Britain.

The new measures announced on 24 November 2021 apply to all keepers of captive birds from large scale poultry producers to seasonal poultry keepers and keepers of backyard flocks and pet birds. They are kept under constant review.

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.