Somerset included in bird flu zone

From midday today (Wednesday 31 August) Defra has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. The zone covers most of Somerset West & Taunton as well as Devon and Cornwall. It is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks, of whatever type or size.

The introduction of this regional AIPZ comes after the disease was detected in captive birds at nine premises across the south-west region since last month, as well as several cases in wild seabirds. Avian flu has been with us since last October. The Leveller® reported earlier this year on how a lack of vigilance from authorities including Defra led to an outbreak in Somerset.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone is as follows:

 Bird keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites. Workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures. Site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Backyard owners with small numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese must take steps too.

All bird keepers should now be following these rules:

  • Wear clean overalls and footwear when entering poultry farms
  • Overalls should ideally be changed, and boot dips used when moving between flocks or sheds.
  • Staff and all visitors should be provided with protective clothing. These should be removed and cleansed, disinfected, laundered, or disposed of after use.
  • Keep good records of all visitors and vehicles that enter the site.
  • Strictly limit and control access to all poultry flocks (including game birds and pet birds).
  • Keep appropriate records of poultry (including game birds and pet birds) captive birds and egg movements.
  • Keep mortality records
  • Have pressure washers, brushes, hoses, water, and fresh supplies of a government approved disinfectant available.
  • Make sure that disinfectant in boot dips is at the right concentration
  • Disinfectant should also be visually checked regularly and if contaminated with organic material, should be changed.
  • Cleanse and disinfect all vehicles that have been transporting poultry.
  • Cleanse and disinfect all crates, containers, plastic egg trays and other equipment before and after use
  • Keep farm access routes, parking areas, yards, areas around buildings and storage areas clean and tidy and well maintained, at all times.

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