ON Tuesday 27 September, an Avian Influenza (AI) prevention zone was announced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) covering Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.
The new zone introduces enhanced biosecurity measures that must be followed by keepers of poultry. The declaratory order containing all the rules can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1106774/regional-aipz-declaration-27-september_norfolk_suffolk_pt_essex.pdf.
Keepers of all types of poultry within the zone, whether for commercial or domestic purposes, are strenuously urged to follow Government measures designed to stop the spread of Avian Influenza (AI), also known as Bird Flu.
Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “This news brings home the scale of the avian flu crisis.
“Substantive restrictions are now in place across the whole of Norfolk and Suffolk and parts of Essex, but I appeal to all bird owners, whether in the zone covered or not, to exercise maximum restraint and take all available safeguards.”
Essex has seen four outbreaks of Avian Influenza in the past year, including cases at Tolleshunt Major, near Maldon, and Clacton.
The response to these cases was led by Essex County Council, City, Borough and District Councils and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
Health officials visited each site and took several actions including testing, cleansing and disinfection. A 3km Protection Zone was implemented around these cases.
Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However, anyone who is concerned should call NHS 111 or speak to their GP. People in direct contact with the affected birds have been contacted and offered appropriate preventative treatment.
Pet owners with other animals do not usually need to take other action. If a person has concerns regarding their pet, they should contact their private veterinary surgeon.
The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.