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Protect your birds from avian flu

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The Chief Vet for Wales, Christianne Glossop, has stressed 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 – but there are more than 70 in the UK as a whole, 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.

Keepers of birds must also follow strict biosecurity measures such as cleaning footwear before and after visiting bird enclosures, keeping areas clean and regularly disinfecting hard surfaces, and placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas away from wild birds, particularly waterfowl.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Christianne Glossop said: “The UK has experienced an unprecedented outbreak of avian influenza this winter. The disease is highly lethal for poultry and the infection is still with us. 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.

“We have put in place robust systems to help control avian influenza from spreading, and 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.”

Wild birds, particularly waterfowl, can spread the disease so it is vital to not allow them to mix with other birds including chickens, ducks or geese.

People are strongly encouraged to not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that they find. Any dead wild birds that are found should be reported by calling 03459 33 55 77. Birds may be collected for further examination.

All keepers are encouraged to register their birds on the Poultry Register. This 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.

The risk to human health from this strain of the avian influenza virus is very low.

The 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.”