The Government has come together with countryside and shooting organisations to issue important information about the latest outbreak of bird flu, of concern to everyone involved with gamebirds
A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) advises: “This advice is hugely important and is essential reading for everyone in the gamebird world… H5N8 bird flu is now widespread in the UK and threatens gamebird management as well as other bird-related industries. We urge all members and others to read and follow this essential advice.”
The information, endorsed by Defra, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments and collated by seven leading countryside and shooting organisations (BASC, CA,CLA,GFA,GWCT, NGO and SGA) can be viewed here in full.
Key bird flu warnings, advice and action in brief
- H5N8 bird flu is a serious and notifiable disease and continues to be found in wild birds and some kept flocks in the UK
- Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu, is a disease that affects gamebirds, chickens, ducks, geese and other poultry. It can also occur in many species of wild birds
- The H5N8 strain can be passed from wild birds to kept flocks, causing birds to fall ill and die
- It can be transmitted from bird to bird or from bird droppings or on people and equipment
- Risks to human health from H5N8 are very low
- Bird flu does not post a food safety risk
- There is currently a legal requirement in the UK for all captive birds, including game birds, to be housed or kept separate from wild birds
- The law says you must register with the Government if you keep 50 or more game birds or other poultry.
- Cleanliness, disinfection and attention to detail when moving and mixing birds are crucial in game bird management, particularly now
- Do not allow dogs eat any dead wild birds and do not feed uncooked shot birds to animals
- Separate different gamebird production stages, keeping laying birds away from hatching and rearing facilities
- Use footbaths containing government-approved disinfectant products
- Ask your vet for advice on biosecurity
- Brief staff thoroughly and restrict access by non-essential visitors.
- Keep food and water clean and, as far as possible, inaccessible to wild birds.
- Symptoms of avian flu in affected birds include; loss of appetite, swollen heads, respiratory problems and multiple unexpected deaths.
- If you suspect bird flu call the Defra helpline immediately on 03000 200 301 in England, 0300 303 8268 in Wales or 0300 200 7840 in Northern Ireland. In Scotland please call your local APHA office.
Full details of all the legal restrictions in place are constantly updated on the Gov.uk website in England, in Scotland, in Wales or in Northern Ireland which also includes key information about the disease and its implications.
A spokesperson at the NGO adds: “Bird flu and its consequences certainly impact game management and shooting but it is also true that game managers and shooters are in a good position to detect and report outbreaks. Please keep vigilant and report any concerns. That way we can all help to eradicate bird flu, so that the UK can get back to being a disease-free country once more and all our important activities can return to normal again as soon as possible. Thank you.”