The Chief Veterinarian for Wales has stressed the importance of people continuing to take action to protect their birds from avian flu.
Three outbreaks of the disease have been recorded in Wales – in Chirk, Wrexham, Crickhowell, Powys and Gaerwen, Anglesey – but in the UK as a whole there are more than 70, the highest number on record, and over 470 records in wild birds.
Housing for birds across the UK has been required since November to prevent avian influenza from spreading to held birds through contact with wild birds.
Bird keepers must also follow strict biosecurity measures, such as cleaning shoes before and after visiting bird enclosures, keeping areas clean and regularly disinfecting hard surfaces, and placing birdseed 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 bird flu this winter.
“The disease is highly fatal to 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 to take steps to protect their birds.
“We have robust systems in place to help limit the spread of bird flu and bird owners have a vital role to play in keeping an eye out for signs of disease and reporting if they see anything to worry about.
“Having excellent biosecurity measures is the very best thing that can be done to protect birds, otherwise they are at risk.”
Wild birds, especially waterfowl, can transmit the disease, so it’s important that they don’t mix with other birds, including chickens, ducks, or geese.
People are strongly encouraged not to touch or pick up any dead or sick birds they find.
Dead wild birds found must be reported on 03459 33 55 77. Birds can be collected for further study.
All keepers are encouraged to register their birds in the Poultry Register. From 50 birds, this is already required by law.
Registration means that owners can be contacted with relevant information or necessary action if an outbreak occurs in their area.
The risk to human health from this strain of avian influenza virus is very low.
The Chief Vet added: “Avian flu is a distressing experience for everyone involved and controlling its spread is vital to avoid spreading the disease.
“So we have taken action to protect native birds from wild birds migrating with the infection.
“Measures such as clean clothing, gear and footwear when handling birds and ensuring buildings are bird-proof can make a huge difference.
“We all have an important role to play in making sure we protect our birds from this deadly disease.”
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