Avian influenza in 2021

Avian flu is an infectious disease that can affect both wild birds and farmed poultry. It is a serious disease and can be devastating to birds since it spreads very quickly. And, although rare, some strains of avian flu can potentially jump from birds to humans.

Avian influenza is a notifiable disease. This means if you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately. This should be done by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on Call 03000 200 301. In Wales, you can contact Call 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local field services office. Failure to do so is an offence.

If you find dead wild waterfowl, such as swans, geese and ducks or other dead wild birds, like gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on Call 03459 33 55 77 - select option 7. Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information see the government's advice pages regarding avian influenza.

For anyone who keeps birds, whether as pets or in commercial flocks, it is essential to keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and also to maintain good biosecurity at all times. This is particularly relevant if your birds are in a Higher Risk Area (HRA). If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.

For more information on Avian flu, you can visit NFU Online for the latest news on avian influenza cases, what to do in a disease control zone and also find out more about nationwide enhanced biosecurity measures.

About the author

Jodie Adam

Jodie is RSPCA Assured's Digital Communications Manager. 

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