Bird keepers reminded to maximise biosecurity

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy & Connectivity, spoke at the Rural Parliament.
Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy & Connectivity, spoke at the Rural Parliament.

Bird keepers in Scotland are reminded to maximise biosecurity and keep their flocks separated from wild birds.

This follows confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 in a wild duck found dead in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

Tests have confirmed it had the same strain of virus that was confirmed in Lincolnshire earlier this month, and which has been reported in wild birds and poultry across mainland Europe.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declared across Scotland is in force until 6 January. Bird keepers should continue to keep their birds housed, if possible, or otherwise take steps to ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and ensure excellent biosecurity procedures are in place.

Gatherings (livestock fairs, auctions, shows or other events) involving poultry, game birds or waterfowl have been prohibited in Scotland since 20 December. Gatherings of pigeons, aviary birds and birds of prey can continue to take place under the general licence for bird gatherings.

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “The discovery of H5N8 in a duck in Wales is not unexpected, as we know that the disease is circulating in migratory wild birds. However, it is another important reminder that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch and prevents any contact between their birds and wild birds.”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: “Bird keepers and members of the public should remain vigilant for signs of disease in domestic or wild birds. Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, should be reported to the Defra helpline, details of which are available on the gov.uk website.

“It is vital that keepers take steps to improve their biosecurity and protect their birds from disease. Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to practical provide advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.

“Expert advice remains that consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry and the threat to public health from the virus is very low.”