Bird flu: Chief vet issues fresh plea for keepers to follow rules

Farmers and keepers have been told to continue to follow strict biosecurity measures in place since November
Farmers and keepers have been told to continue to follow strict biosecurity measures in place since November

Wales's chief veterinary officer has issued a fresh plea to bird keepers and farmers to follow strict biosecurity measures following three outbreaks of avian influenza in Wales.

Christianne Glossop has today (13 January) highlighted the importance of people continuing to take action to protect their birds against avian flu.

Three outbreaks of the disease have been found in Wales - in Chirk, Crickhowell and Gaerwen, Anglesey.

In the UK overall, there are more than 70 cases - the highest number on record - and over 470 detections in wild birds.

Housing of birds across the UK has been required since November to prevent avian flu from spreading to kept birds through contact with wild birds.

Ms Glossop said farmers and keepers must continue to follow strict biosecurity measures such as cleaning footwear before and after visiting bird enclosures.

They must also keep areas clean and place birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas away from wild birds, particularly waterfowl.

She said the UK had experienced an 'unprecedented' bird flu outbreak. "The disease is highly lethal for poultry and the infection is still with us," the chief vet added.

"I urge people, especially those who own birds, to be more vigilant than ever for signs of the disease and take action to protect their birds.

“People who own birds have a crucial role to play by being on the lookout for signs of disease and if they see anything they are concerned about then reporting it.

“Having excellent biosecurity measures in place is the very best thing that can done to protect birds, otherwise they are at risk.”

Ms Glossop explained that wild birds spread the disease, so it was 'vital' for keepers to make sure they did not mix with other birds including chickens, ducks or geese.

She also encouraged people to not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that they found. Any birds found should be reported by calling 03459 33 55 77.

All farmers and keepers should register their birds on the Poultry Register, Ms Glossop said, which is already a legal requirement for those with 50 birds or more.

Registering means keepers will be able to be contacted with relevant information or action needed should an outbreak happen near them.

Wales's chief vet added: “Bird flu is a distressing experience for all concerned and controlling its spread is crucial so more are not impacted.

“This is why we have implemented measures to protect domestic birds from wild birds who migrate with the infection.

"Taking action such as having clean clothes, equipment and footwear when handling birds and making sure buildings are bird proof can make a huge difference.

“We all have an important role to play to ensure we keep our birds safe from this deadly disease.”