Avian influenza (bird flu) in winter 2016 to 2017
The latest situation on avian influenza (bird flu) in the UK and advice on how to reduce the risks.
Avian influenza (bird flu) is a disease of birds. The H5N8 strain of the disease has been found in the UK in both farmed and wild birds since December 2016.
If you keep poultry and captive birds
Our Avian Influenza Prevention Zone includes a number of measures to reduce the risk of the disease spreading and to help protect poultry and captive birds from avian flu.
All poultry keepers in England (whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions, with extra rules for anyone who keeps more than 500 birds.
In England, we’ve defined a number of areas as ‘Higher Risk Areas’ (HRAs) in which we’re adopting a more targeted approach to managing the disease. What keepers must do depends on whether they are in one of these areas: use our interactive map to check.
if they’re not in a Higher Risk Area birds can be allowed outdoors into fenced areas provided the areas meet certain conditions
if they are in a Higher Risk Area then keepers must either keep their birds housed, in permanent or temporary sheds; or allow birds outdoors but only into a fenced run which is fully covered by netting
For more information on all these rules, please read our detailed guidance and watch the video below.
We have also banned gatherings of poultry across the UK. This applies to birds including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as livestock fairs, auctions and bird shows.
Advice on rearing game birds and shooting while the Prevention Zone is in force is available from The National Gamekeepers Organisation.
All disease control measures will be kept under review based on the latest situation and up-to-date scientific advice.
If you have a backyard flock
Read our short, simple advice on how to comply with the biosecurity requirements.
Cases of avian influenza since December 2016
The H5N8 strain of the disease has been confirmed at a farm in Northumberland, a poultry farm in Suffolk, in three linked premises on a commercial game farm in Lancashire, in three separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire, and in backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire.
Where avian influenza has been confirmed, we put restrictions around the site - a 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance zone - to limit the spread of disease, and we investigate the source of the infection.
Restrictions remain in place at the following sites:
- Haltwhistle, Northumberland (confirmed on 24 February)
Use our interactive map to check if you live within the Protection or Surveillance zones around any infected premises, or within an area designated as being at ‘Higher Risk.’
In addition to being found in poultry, the same strain of the virus has also been found in wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales. We publish a list of cases where we find avian influenza in wild birds.
We publish details of the situation across Europe in the latest veterinary outbreak assessment.
Advice from the Chief Vet
Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens has issued the following statement:
Effective disease control will always be our priority. H5N8 continues to circulate in wild birds and we must all continue to do everything we can to reduce the risk of disease. All keepers across the country must follow strict mandatory disease prevention measures.
Based on clear scientific evidence, the risk from wild birds is too high in some areas of England to rely on biosecurity measures alone. That’s why we are requiring birds in Higher Risk Areas to be housed or protected from wild bird contact by netting.
We believe this is the best approach to control disease, protect birds’ welfare and ensure consumers can buy free range products. As with any disease control measures these will be kept under review based on the latest situation and up-to-date scientific advice.
Free range status
Most egg producers in England can now let birds outside provided they observe strict disease prevention measures. All eggs from birds that remain housed, from both inside and outside higher risk areas, are no longer considered to be free range and must not be labelled as such.
Retailers across the country have supported the free range egg industry with signage making clear that birds have been housed for their own welfare due to the threat of avian influenza.
Reporting suspicion of disease in your poultry
For advice and guidance on what to do if you keep poultry or to report suspicion of disease in animals, call the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 or read our detailed guidance on avian influenza.
Reporting dead wild birds
Members of the public should report dead wild birds - such as swans, geese, ducks, gulls or birds of prey - to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Defra will then collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird.
Detailed guidance on avian influenza (bird flu): latest situation; how to spot it and report it
- Specific advice on biosecurity requirements
- Food Standards Agency advice
- Public Health England advice
- Health and Safety Executive advice on protecting workers from avian influenza
- Latest veterinary outbreak assessment on H5N8 in the UK and Europe
- Results of findings of H5N8 in wild birds in Great Britain
- Guidance on free range status
Government announcements on avian influenza
- 10 March 2017: Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - Next Steps(Northern Ireland Executive)
- 3 March 2017: Avian flu near Redgrave, Suffolk
- 24 February 2017:New Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - 28 February to 30 April(Welsh Government)
- 24 February 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm near Haltwhistle, Northumberland
- 24 February 2017: New measures to protect against Avian Flu
- 22 February 2017: Renewal of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone(Scottish Government)
- 13 February 2017, updated on 14 February 2017: Avian Flu confirmed at a farm near Redgrave in Suffolk
- 8 February 2017: Update on on biosecurity measures to protect against Avian Flu
- 27 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm in Wyre, Lancashire
- 26 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm near Boston, Lincolnshire
- 24 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed at a farm in Wyre, Lancashire
- 16 January 2017: Avian Flu confirmed at a farm in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
- 6 January 2017: Avian flu confirmed in backyard flock in Yorkshire
- 4 January 2017: Avian flu prevention zone extended
- 4 January 2017: Extension of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (Scottish Government)
- 4 January 2017: Cabinet Secretary declares extension of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (Welsh Government)
- 3 January 2017: Avian influenza H5N8 in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Carmarthenshire (Welsh Government)
- 23 December 2016: Avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds in England and Scotland
- 23 December 2016: Avian influenza in wild bird in Scotland (Scottish Government)
- 22 December 2016: Poultry keepers urged to maintain biosecurity as avian influenza (bird flu) is found in wild duck in Carmarthenshire
- 22 December 2016: Avian influenza in wild duck in Carmarthenshire (Welsh government)
- 20 December 2016: Poultry gatherings suspended
- 16 December 2016: Avian influenza (bird flu) at Lincolnshire farm
- 6 December 2016: New measures to protect poultry against avian flu
Published: 23 December 2016
Updated: 20 March 2017
- Restrictions have been removed from around a premises near Redgrave, mid-Suffolk, and the Protection Zone has been merged with the Surveillance Zone for the case near Haltwhistle, Northumberland.
- Restrictions removed from around a premises near Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire.
- Updated to reflect the latest outbreak situation, including the new 'targeted approach' to housing.
- Updated because of removal of the final Surveillance Zone restrictions at two of the sites near Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire.
- Updated because of removal of the Protection Zone restrictions at two of the sites near Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire.
- Updated to include H5N8 case confirmed in Haltwhistle, Northumberland
- Link added to announcement on next steps for the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) after 28 February
- Updated as the PZ restrictions have now been lifted on the 26 January case near Boston, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire (SZ restrictions remain in place).
- Updated: Surveillance Zone restrictions around the 16 January case near Louth, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire have been removed.
- Updated to reflect confirmation of disease near Redgrave in Suffolk.
- Updated to include details of a 10km Temporary Control Zone around a premises in Suffolk following investigation into a suspected case of Avian Influenza where laboratory analysis has identified the presence of H5N8 and investigations are ongoing into the nature of the virus detected.
- Updated to reflect merging of the Protection Zone with the Surveillance Zone relating to the case confirmed on 16 January 2017 in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire.
- Updated to reflect plans for next steps on biosecurity measures
- Updated to reflect lifting of restrictions in Carmarthenshire.
- New case of bird flu confirmed at a farm in Wyre, Lancashire
- On 26 January 2017, a case was confirmed at a farm near Boston, Lincolnshire
- Updated to clarify the location of the outbreak confirmed on 24 January.
- Updated following the new case in Preston, Lancashire.
- Updated to reflect latest advice
- The surveillance zone restrictions in Louth, Lincolnshire were lifted on 18 January.
- Updated following the case of avian influenza H5N8 confirmed in a commercial turkey unit in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire. We've also added a link to advice on rearing game birds and shooting whilst the Prevention Zone is in force.
- Updated to include information of a confirmed case of H5N8 in Yorkshire.
- Updated following announcement that the prevention zone will be extended to 28 February 2017, and to reflect confirmation of avian influenza in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
- Routine editorial update, including link to report of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) H5N8 found in wild birds.
- First published.