Avian influenza (bird flu) mainly affects birds and can also affect humans and other mammals. There are certain requirements to follow if you keep poultry both commercially and domestically.
Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.
If you keep poultry, you should keep a close watch on them for signs of disease, and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your poultry, seek prompt advice from your vet.
You should register your poultry so you can be contacted during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone now applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England. If you keep poultry or birds, you must follow the detailed requirements on strict biosecurity, whether you have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock.
These measures have been taken because bird flu has now been found in wild birds in this country. Bird flu is also present in Europe, and wild bird migration brings birds to the UK from areas which are known to have highly pathogenic bird flu. Disease control measures are kept under review based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.
Anyone who finds dead wild birds should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
The risk of bird flu occurring in poultry in the UK is still believed to be low, but only provided keepers maintain a high standard of biosecurity. Summaries of animal disease risks are published (including issues around bird flu) in the veterinary outbreak assessments.
Updated: 9 February 2018