Norfolk has several outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1, which has led to thousands of fowl being culled. It is affecting wild and domestic bird populations.

The virus is highly contagious among birds, and spread by close contact with an infected bird, whether it is dead or alive.

Last week a Regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was applied to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.

Trading Standards’ involvement is predominantly through assisting their partners the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Once the disease has been confirmed at an infected premises, two zones are created surrounding the premises – a 10km Surveillance Zone and a 3km Protection Zone. Each zone creates legal requirements and imposes restrictions upon birdkeepers within those areas.

Once the zones are declared they carry out foot patrols in the highest priority area (the 3km zone surrounding the infected site. This is to identify backyard flocks and any other unknown captive birds in the area to establish their location and promote the legal requirements and biosecurity.

When called upon they will also use their enforcement powers to ensure that APHA vets can undertake the essential veterinary surveillance work at birdkeeper’s premises.

Within these two zones it is Trading Standards’ responsibility to ensure the requirements are complied with.  It is also their responsibility to ensure the requirements of any Regional or National Prevention zones (such as the one currently in place in East Anglia) are complied with.

Avian flu latest situation and advice

The Regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.

Bird keepers across the country must follow biosecurity measures including:

• Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources.
• Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
• Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
• Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy
• Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas andfencing off wet or boggy areas.
• Keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any sick birds or unexplained deaths
• Have effective vermin control in place

Information regarding the latest situation on Avian Influenza, including full details of the Prevention Zone requirements, can be found here.

Please share this important message with anybody you know that keeps poultry and encourage them to register with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) poultry register.

If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register but you can choose to register voluntarily if you have less than that.  By doing so you will be kept informed on the latest bird flu information so you can take action to reduce the risk to your birds, which in turn reduces the risk to all UK poultry. It’s quick and easy to register here.

Further Government advice on Avian Flu, including guidance relating to wild birds, is available here.

(Source: NCC)