Neath Port Talbot residents are reminded that from this week all poultry and captive birds in the UK must be kept indoors in an effort to contain the spread of bird flu.
It follows the continued spread of Avian Influenza across the country despite an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) having been declared in the UK earlier this month.
The introduction of the AIPZ on November 3rd made it a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks. People with more than 500 birds inside the AIPZ must restrict access for non-essential people.
Clothing and footwear must be cleaned before entering enclosures, and vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Even “backyard owners” with a few birds, such as chicken, ducks and geese, are advised to take action to reduce the risk and keep watch for signs of disease.
The new bird housing measure introduced by the four chief veterinary officers in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday (Nov 29th) now makes it a legal requirement that all captive birds and poultry in the four nations are kept indoors.
The aim is to minimise contact with wild birds migrating from mainland Europe which can carry the H5N1 virus which causes the disease.
In a joint statement, the UK’s four chief veterinary officers said: “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.
“We have not taken this decision lightly. Taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Bird keepers must also follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread of disease. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting of housing and equipment, clothing and vehicles. Access to non-essential workers or visitors must also be restricted, and all feed and water made inaccessible to wild birds.
Poultry farmers are currently advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds. In Wales, signs of Avian Influenza should be reported on 0300 3038268.
Anyone finding dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 335577).
Please do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick wild birds that you may find.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will collect some of these birds and test them to help give an understanding of how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird.
The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said: "Public Health Wales has said the risk to the health of the public from Avian Influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear it does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.”
Link to the latest Welsh Government advice/information on Avian Influenza: https://gov.wales/avian-influenza-bird-flu-latest-update