On 25 April 2022, the Chief Veterinary Officers for the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland issued a joint statement confirming that, following a recent risk assessment, mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds, which were introduced across the UK to help stop the spread of bird flu, will be lifted on 2 May 2022.
Poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed, unless they are in a Protection Zone, and will be allowed to be kept outside. While the risk of bird flu has been reduced to medium for premises with poor biosecurity, the enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force as infection may still be circulating in the environment for several more weeks. All poultry gatherings remain banned. Disease control zones can be located by using the online Animal and Plant Health Agency (PHA) interactive map.
Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. Preparation advice includes cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.
The Chief Veterinary Officers advise that maintaining high standards of biosecurity is the most effective method of disease control available, and all bird keepers should apply enhanced measures at all times to help prevent the risk of future outbreaks. This follows the largest ever outbreak of bird flu in the UK, with over 100 cases confirmed across the country since October 2021.
As the AIPZ will remain in force across the UK, all bird keepers, whether they have pet birds, commercial sized or backyard flocks, must continue to be diligent in taking effective and precautionary biosecurity measures including cleansing and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and should change clothing and footwear before entering, and when leaving, bird enclosures.
Poultry and captive bird keepers must be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds or in any wild birds and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
Public health advice is that the risk to human health is very low, with Food Standards Scotland (FSS) advising that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
Source: Scottish Government, 25 April 2022