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Staffordshire bird owners urged to introduce protective measures and cut influenza risk

Owners of domestic birds and poultry in Staffordshire are being urged to follow national guidance issued on helping to reduce the risk of Avian Influenza.

While there have been no cases of Avian Influenza (AI) in the UK, the Chief Veterinary Officer has decided to issue the advice because of the amount of AI in some parts of Europe and around the world. The risk is increased at this time of year. Staffordshire County Council’s animal health team will be issuing advice over the next month.

Defra has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone for the whole of England that introduces mandatory measures for all poultry and captive birds. It also requires the housing of free range poultry or where this isn’t possible, separation from wild birds.

Shows and bird gatherings are still presently permitted, though organisers will need to take increased steps to ensure good bio-security and that they have full traceability of all birds attending.

Measures include preventing visitors from having access to the flock, particularly if they have been in contact with other birds, having good hygiene practices including wearing clean clothes and footwear when handling birds or wearing clothing that can be readily disinfected and using a Defra approved disinfectant. All domestic bird should be separated from wild bird contact. The advice also says there should be a reduction of movements of vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry is kept to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products. Poultry owners should also use effective vermin control.

Full details on the preventative measures can be found at the Defra website.

Staffordshire County Council’s environment leader Gill Heath said:

Our animal health team is on hand for advice for bird owners in Staffordshire and we know people will make every effort to follow the national guidance. We’d like to reassure people that there have been no incidents of Avian Influenza in the UK but there is increased risk at this time of year. Taking these preventative measures will help to keep that risk at a minimum.”

For small domestic flocks, Jeyes fluid is an approved disinfectant for Avian Influenza and this is readily available from most hardware stores. All other disinfectants can be sourced through most agricultural supply businesses.

The full list of approved disinfectants can be found on the Defra website.