Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex have been ordered into an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) following an uptick in cases of bird flu, the government has confirmed.
The UK's Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer on Tuesday (27 September) declared the tough rules for the region to "mitigate the risk of further outbreaks of disease occurring".
It follows a number of recent detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in both poultry and wild birds across the East Anglia region.
The counties follow parts of the South West of England, which have been in a regional AIPZ since late August.
The tougher rules means it is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in these regions to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks, of whatever type or size.
Bird keepers have been advised to consult Defra's interactive map to check if they are impacted by the regional AIPZ.
Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, and workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures.
There is also a mandatory requirement to keep records and to make them available to the government on request.
The UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 150 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021.
The introduction of the new regional AIPZ comes after the disease was detected in kept birds at 10 premises in the affected regions since the beginning of September, as well as several reports in wild birds.
Richard Irvine, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, said bird keepers in the region must 'urgently take action now' to both prevent disease getting in to flocks and it spreading any further.
"Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce stricter biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding.
"It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious and devastating disease."
The introduction of an AIPZ follows the recent increase in cases of bird flu in poultry and other captive birds in the area and increased reports of mass mortality in wild birds.
The government said any further disease control measures would be based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.
What does the region AIPZ mean?
The AIPZ means bird keepers in the affected regions must:
• Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
• Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
• Keep records of mortality, movement of poultry and poultry products and any changes in production
• thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
• Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
• Minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds