Disease confirmed in wild bird in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland and separate locations in England.
A wild peregrine falcon found in Dumfries and Galloway has tested positive for H5N8 Avian Influenza.
In addition, a further two cases have been detected in wild birds in Somerset and Leicestershire. These further cases were to be expected and show a broad geographical spread in the UK.
There is strong evidence from Europe that disease is getting into housed poultry. Producers are reminded to comply with the order to house birds or ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and follow excellent biosecurity procedures.
Experience with previous outbreaks has also shown that during periods of excessive rainfall, such as expected with Storm Barbara, there is an additional risk of run-off water carrying contaminants into poultry houses bringing contaminated material into closer contact with poultry.
As there is now clear evidence that the disease is in wild birds in the UK further updates on wild bird testing will be provided by the Animal and Plant Health Agency on their website.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said:
“With the recent disease confirmations in both England and Wales, it is not unexpected for Avian Influenza to be found in a wild bird here in Scotland.
“We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds.
Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said:
“This case of H5N8 in a falcon in Dumfries and Galloway confirms that Avian Influenza is present in wild birds in Scotland. This underlines the crucial importance of bird keepers and members of the public remaining vigilant for signs of disease in domestic or wild birds.
“Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, falcons or other birds of prey or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, should be reported to the Defra helpline, details of which are available on the gov.scot website.
“I would also remind all keepers they must enhance their biosecurity and protect their birds from disease. Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to practical provide advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.
“Expert advice remains that consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry and the threat to public health from the virus is very low.”
A spokesman for NFU Scotland said: “The spread of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) across the country makes this an extremely worrying time for Scotland’s poultry keepers.
“Whether your poultry flock is large or small, we urge you to ensure your biosecurity measures to protect the health of your flock are as robust as possible. Given the spread of the disease in wild birds, flock owners must continue to comply with the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, put in place on 6 December, which requires that all poultry and captive birds in Scotland be kept indoors, or otherwise kept separate from wild birds. An extension of this prevention zone beyond its scheduled closure on 6 January now looks to be a logical requirement given the level of disease.
“Scottish poultry keepers are well-briefed on biosecurity measures and good practice regarding the threat of HPAI but given the continued spread of this disease in the wild bird population, vigilance must be heightened.
“And we call on the Scottish public to also play their part. First and foremost, stand by Scottish poultry producers as the expert advice is that consumers have no reason to be concerned about eating eggs or poultrymeat.
“Secondly, any sightings of dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, falcons or other birds of prey or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, can be reported to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577 or details sent by email to [email protected]
“Dead birds can be a sign of the disease and by notifying the Defra helpline, the public will help with the industry response to this growing threat.”
Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Animal Plant & Health Agency office. Contact details can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/about-us/contact-us/field-services/
More information about Avian Influenza – including biosecurity guidance and Frequently Asked Questions – is available from the Scottish Government website www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza and http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00512092.pdf
Restrictions remain in place requiring all poultry and captive birds across GB to be housed to prevent the spread of avian flu.
As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are undertaken in incidents where any ‘at risk’ bird species (wildfowl or gulls), birds of prey or five or more birds of any other species, are found dead in the same location and at the same time.
In the United Kingdom, members of the public are asked to report these incidents to Defra’s national helpline (email [email protected] or telephone 03459 335577, Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm).