Avian Influenza Prevention Zone introduced in GB

Date published: 05 November 2021

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been introduced across Great Britain (GB) effective from 5pm on Wednesday 3rd November. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions. It does not currently include a requirement to house birds, however this is being kept under constant review.


The decision to introduce the AIPZ comes following further findings of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in different locations across GB and the increased risk to poultry from wild birds. 

HPAI H5N1 has now been confirmed in captive birds in three different locations in GB. One in a wild bird rescue centre in Worcestershire, England, one on a premises near Wrexham, Wales and another at a mixed backyard flock in Angus, Scotland.  The infected premises are all currently under restriction and disease control zones have been put in place to limit the spread of disease.

There have also been 15 positive findings in wild birds throughout GB. The risk of incursion of highly pathogenic (HPAI) avian influenza H5 in wild birds has increased in GB from medium to high for wild birds.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) also confirmed a case of HPAI H5N1 in a peregrine falcon in County Galway yesterday, 4 November.

Minister for Agriculture, Edwin Poots issued a warning to all poultry farmers and pet bird keepers, echoing that of the Chief Vet, Dr Robert Huey last week.

Minister Poots said: "We find ourselves in a similar position to the one we were in last December, with the increasing number of avian influenza findings, and the introduction of an AIPZ in GB.  The recent positive finding of H5N1 in a wild bird in the Republic of Ireland strongly suggests that the disease may already be present in NI and it is more critical than ever that we protect our poultry industry and international trade.

“This is not just something for large commercial premises to be concerned about. If you keep a small flock of poultry or ‘captive birds’, you have an important role to play in preventing further disease outbreaks. If avian influenza were to enter any flock, including backyard or hobby flocks, it could have a devastating effect on the poultry industry and could significantly impact international trade.

“I am urging all flock keepers, even if you keep just one bird, to take action now to improve biosecurity in order to prevent an incursion of the disease into our poultry flock. If the disease was to enter our NI flock, it would have a significant and devastating impact on our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy.  Excellent biosecurity remains the best protection against an incursion of avian influenza into poultry flocks.   My officials are working closely with Defra and DAFM counterparts to assess the disease risks for the Northern Ireland poultry flock and next steps, including the possibility of the introduction of an AIPZ.

“I would also like to remind bird keepers that you are legally required to register your birds so the Department can provide you with up to date information about avian influenza and give you the earliest opportunity to protect your birds.   I would also encourage subscription to the Avian Influenza text service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300. Subscribing means you will receive any important disease information immediately.”

DAERA encourages all bird keepers to remain vigilant and to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of avian influenza which can be found on the DAERA webpage.  If you are concerned in any way about the health of your birds or if you notice any behaviours that are not normal for your birds please report it immediately to your local DAERA Direct Office on 0300 200 7840.

The Department has developed a biosecurity - self assessment tool which is available on the DAERA website to help bird keepers in the review of their biosecurity arrangements.

The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. The Food Standards Agency has also advised, in avian influenza incursions of this type, that there is a very low risk to public health from the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat or eggs provided appropriate hygiene measures are followed.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling your local DAERA Direct regional office or the DAERA Helpline on 0300 2007840.  Failure to do so is an offence.             
  2. An avian influenza leaflet detailing biosecurity advice can be downloaded at DAERA-NI.GOV.UK.
  3. Further information can be found on the Defra website, the Scottish Government website , Welsh Government website and the DAFM website.
  4. If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey please report them to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.
  5. For more advice and up to date information, please follow DAERA’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
  6. All poultry and other birds must be registered with DAERA. Download the application form.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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