Avian flu lockdown set to end

Poultry and captive birds will beat their human counterparts to come out the other side of lockdown with the news that compulsory housing measures are set to be lifted at the end of this month.

The Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales announced yesterday that, provided there were no more significant cases, the lockdown for birds introduced across Great Britain in December to stop the spread of avian influenza would come to an end on March 31.

Defra, the Scottish government and Welsh government have been working closely with industry and bird keepers to ensure that there are strict biosecurity measures in and around poultry premises to help keep flocks safe.

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The chief vets said that while the risk of bird flu had been reduced to ‘medium’, the risk of outbreaks was likely to persist for several weeks.

As a result, enhanced requirements that were brought in last November will remain in place – meaning good biosecurity would continue to be offer the best protection. Keepers were advised to use the next two weeks to prepare the ranges and outdoor areas for release of the birds.

This includes cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.

“Keepers must continue do their bit to maintain strict biosecurity measures on their premises so that we do not lose the progress that we have made over the past few months as low risk does not mean no risk,” warned Scotland Chief Vet Sheila Voas.