The government has declared nationwide restrictions to protect poultry from an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu).
Anyone keeping even a few birds, including chickens, ducks and geese, is now legally obliged to follow the new requirements which are designed to keep domestic birds from coming into contact with wild birds, helping to keep them safe from infection.
Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are still safe to eat.
It is important to control this disease not only for the welfare of wild and domestic birds but also because in rare cases, the disease can affect humans, although so far there are no known cases in this country.
The UK Government has declared a Nationwide Prevention Zone. This means anyone who keeps poultry (including pets) must:
- Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
- Feed and water birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
- Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;
- Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
- Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.
The Isle of Wight Council will be directly contacting owners with larger flocks, but the new rules apply to everybody, right across the Island, even if they only have a few birds.
Anybody who keeps poultry, including chickens, ducks and geese, should check the Government website for updates and full information on the new rules