Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
31 October 2022
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are introducing mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds in England from 00:01 on Monday 7 November, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s Chief Veterinary Officer. The housing measures legally require all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease, regardless of type or size.
Further information can be found on Defra’s website.
Advice for the public
Reporting dead birds on streets or in parks
Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.
You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:
- one or more dead bird of prey or owl
- 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
- 5 or more dead birds of any species
If you find a sick bird
To report concerns regarding a sick or injured bird, please call the RSPCA on 0300 1234999
If you find a dead garden bird on your property
If you find a small dead bird such as a sparrow, pigeon or blackbird it can be disposed of in the black (residual) waste bin ONLY.
- Wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling dead wild birds (if disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove). When the dead wild bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied, enclosing the dead wild bird within the bag
- the bag containing the dead wild bird should then be placed in a second plastic bag (preferably leak proof). Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
- remove any gloves or other hand coverings used, by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag, taking care not to touch the outside of the gloves with bare hands
- tie the second bag closed and dispose of in the normal household waste (general refuse lidded bin outside)
- wash hands thoroughly with soap and water
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks) or birds of prey on your property
You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77)
If dead wild birds are not needed for avian influenza surveillance purposes it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely arrange disposal of the carcasses.
These birds must be disposed of as a category 1 animal by-products if it is suspected that the animals were infected with a disease which can spread to people or animals such as avian influenza.
How to help protect birds from bird flu
- Do not feed ducks, geese, pigeons or other wild birds in parks and open spaces. Large groups of wild birds can cause the virus to spread.
- Keep to the footpaths
- Keep dogs on leads
- Do not pick up or touch dead or sick wild birds
- Do not touch wild bird feathers or surfaces contaminated with wild bird droppings
- If you keep poultry or other birds, wash your hands and clean and disinfect your footwear before tending to your birds
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. The regional UKHSA Health Protection Teams are working closely with Defra to monitor the situation.
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.
What to do if you keep pet birds
If you have a garden flock of chickens, ducks or other birds, you should register these with Defra.
Defra have declared a UK wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in the UK to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu. Biosecurity advice is available on the Defra website.