Avian influenza, known informally as avian flu or bird flu, is a variety of influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds. There are two types of avian influenza, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) which is the most serious, often fatal in birds and Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) which is normally less serious. The disease is not airborne and can spread through bird to bird contact or via contamination on vehicle wheels, feed, clothing and footwear. Avian influenza is one of a number of notifiable diseases that are legally required to be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). If a notifiable disease such as avian influenza is confirmed, the farm is placed under restrictions, birds are culled and the site is cleaned and disinfected. Restrictions are also normally placed upon the local area and investigations made in to the source of the disease.
National Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) declared – 11 November 2020
Avian influenza (H5N2 strain) was confirmed on Monday 2 November 2020 in a small commercial poultry farm in Kent and the birds were culled. A 1km Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) restricted zone was put in place.
A second case of avian influenza (H5N8 strain) was confirmed at a farm in Cheshire also on 2 November 2020 and a 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance zone were put in place. The 13,500 broiler breeders at the farm have been culled. Testing has confirmed this is a highly pathogenic strain related to the virus currently circulating in Europe.
On 11 November 2020 there was a third confirmed case of H5N8 avian influenza in Herefordshire, again in broiler breeders. This case has now been confirmed as a highly pathogenic strain. 3km and 10km temporary control zones have been put in place.
There have also been confirmed cases of avian influenza in wild birds including wild geese near Stroud and swans in Devon.
In response to the heightened risk of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza and following the 3 confirmed on-farm cases, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared in England, Scotland and Wales on 11 November 2020. This introduces additional biosecurity measures for all poultry and captive bird keepers to protect them from the risk presented by wild birds. The measures apply to all poultry keepers (including game) whether commercial or domestic. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures. Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese are also urged to strengthen their biosecurity measures in order to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK.
Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, remain safe to eat.
Crawford remains fully operational and, as always, our experienced agricultural experts are prepared and trained in biosecurity requirements; therefore our clients can continue to instruct us in relation to claims with confidence.
We remain ready to assist and if you would like more information or have a particular poultry case you would like to discuss please do not hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane Hunter is a Chartered Loss Adjuster and is the Technical Head of Crawford Agriculture. Her family continue to run a significant dairy farm and, having completed an agricultural degree, she has built her reputation to be the UK’s leading agricultural loss adjuster with specialist knowledge in dairy and poultry claims.