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Disease Update 17th November 2016 - Avian Influenza in Europe

Disease Update 17th November 2016 – Avian Influenza in Europe. Developed from advice from British Poultry Council and NFU. 

Defra have updated the outbreak location map, please find the link here.

The main points are as follows:

  1. The current situation largely remains unchanged – Defra put the risk to an incursion into the UK wild bird population at medium and the risk of an incursion into a commercial UK premises as low but heightened.
  2. The main migration pathway that is causing greatest concern is the Baltic–Northern Europe-UK route.
  3. Several dead wild birds have been found in countries that this path way crosses – the most notable ones being Denmark and the Netherlands.
  4. Defra commented that this particular strain of AI – H5N8 – is causing concern because of the number and range of birds affected – ducks, geese, swans, gulls, coots, curlew and grebe – this extent and the level of mortality has not been seen since 2005/6.
  5. In response to this and the overall risk to the UK, Defra/APHA are to increase GB (passive) wild bird surveillance by reducing the threshold for reporting/sampling of found dead wild birds to a single wild bird (currently 5) for the following target species: wild geese; wild ducks; swans; gulls. Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
  6. Defra are planning a press release to raise awareness of the current threat of AI and to encourage reporting of any dead wild waterfowl. This will be shared with industry as a draft.
  7. To put some of this into context however, Defra commented that wild waterfowl from the Baltic region have been arriving in the UK since September and they estimate that 70% of these birds have already arrived in the UK. The migration season will continue into January and is, in part, dependent upon weather conditions in the Baltic and the Low Countries – a prolonged cold period causing more birds to migrate South and West. Migratory birds will start to leave the UK in February through to April.
  8. Further, there is some thought that the ill birds may die (as this is an aggressive form of the disease) before they reach UK shores.
  9. Defra are to review their assessment on 18/11/16 and they expect that the status of wild bird incursion into the UK will be raised to ‘High’. They added – we may already be there.
  10. Industry has asked Defra that a housing order be applied for 30 days across the eastern side of GB i.e. keeping free range birds indoors. Defra are exploring the benefits and challenges to respond to this industry request. A response is being developed as evidence emerges. 
  11. Denmark and the Netherlands have ordered that free range birds be housed as a precaution. France has imposed a compulsory housing order effective of the 17th November in the highest risk areas. The French has raised the overall risk level from low to medium.  Defra pointed out that Denmark and the Netherlands have actually had a case of High Path in the wild bird population – to date this has not been the case in the UK.
  12. Defra urges industry to seize opportunities to continue cascading messaging amongst poultry keepers of the need for high standards of biosecurity, increased vigilance and prompt reporting of suspect clinical signs.
  13. Defra are to update the document entitled ‘Biosecurity and preventing disease in captive birds’ (which was first published on 21st December 2014).

If we would like to discuss any of this new content further, please contact the practice or your vet. 

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