Poultry Order in Bid to Prevent Bird Flu Outbreak

December 8th, 2016: Poultry keepers have been urged to keep all poultry and captive birds, including turkeys indoors for 30 days to prevent any spread of a potentially fatal bird flu virus.

The Scottish Government has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requiring that all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors, or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, as it seeks to prevent an outbreak of the virus.

A type of highly pathogenic avian flu, H5N8, has been found in dead wild birds in over a dozen countries across Europe, from Poland to France.

Although no cases have been found in Scotland and the rest of the UK, it is feared the winter bird migration season heightens the risk of the strain being spread.

The move came as Serbia reported its first case of bird flu, saying that six swans found dead in the northern part of the country Serbia were infected with the H5N8 bird flu strain.

The World Health Organisation has said that the risk of transmission from birds to humans is "relatively low" but has warned that it is "important to be vigilant".

Human cases of infection with related H5N6 viruses have been detected and reported in China, WHO has said.

"Sporadic human infections with similar types of avian influenza have occurred in the past and the possibility of the virus causing human infection cannot be excluded," said WHO in its most recent update two weeks ago.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans, unlike some other strains, but it led to the cull of millions of farm birds in Asia in 2014 before spreading to Europe.

The Scottish Government says the prevention zone is a precautionary step. Similar measures were declared in England.

Within the zone bird keepers are legally obliged to take all practicable steps to ensure that poultry and other captive birds kept separate from wild birds - in most cases this will be by keeping birds housed.

Sheila Voas, Scotland chief veterinary officer said that the risk of a spread into poultry in the UK remains at "low, but heightened", although for wild birds the risk has been raised to "medium".