Bird keepers across Britain have been ordered to follow strict rules with the country facing the worst outbreak of bird flu on record.
The government has announced the introduction of a national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), with new rules coming into force at midday today that require all bird keepers to follow “strict biosecurity measures help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu”, reports the Independent.
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The measures include:
Keeping free-ranging birds within fenced areas.
Disinfecting footwear and keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.
Minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures.
Keeping domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry.
Feeding and watering birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds.
More than three million of the animals have already been culled because of the disease, and it’s thought that hundreds of thousands of wild birds have died. There has also been an impact on seabirds.
The government said: “Implementing the highest levels of biosecurity measures on farms is the most effective way to reduce the risk of disease spreading within flocks.”
Nearly 200 cases of bird flu have been confirmed across the country over the past year, with more than 30 of them coming this month.
East Anglia, which is a region famed for its poultry farming, has been hit badly but there have been outbreaks recorded elsewhere in the country, too, including in south-west England.
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The government said: "Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds and when they migrate to the United Kingdom from mainland Europe over the winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.
“Maintaining strict biosecurity is the most effective method of protecting birds from the virus."
The announcement of the national AIPZ follows the raising of the risk level for bird flu in wild birds from medium to high.
But government scientists say the risk to public health from bird flu is very low, and properly cooked poultry and eggs remain safe to eat.
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