New mandate requiring keepers in Northamptonshire to lock down their birds amidst fresh Bird Flu fears
The illness has already surfaced in places right around the country
The Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is now legally mandating that all poultry and captive bird keepers house or otherwise separate their birds from wild ones, amidst fresh outbreaks of Bird Flu.
The requirement came into effect on Monday 29th November after 21 cases of the disease were confirmed at multiple sites across the UK.
While the requirement has only just come into effect nationally, North Yorkshire has been under it since November 21st, although that has not stopped it accruing five different affected sites as of November 26th.
The disease has also been found in areas of Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Essex, Lancashire, Bournemouth, Poole, Cumbria, Cheshire, North Norfolk, Leicestershire and South Derbyshire.
Bird Flu, also known as Avian Influenza, has been known to cause occasional infections in humans that range from mild to severe. The disease is also on watch as a potential source for a pandemic
According to the NHS, strains of Bird Flu have infected people in Hong Kong, China and Russia among others in the past, although this happens very rarely.
As part of the rule change, West Northamptonshire County Council have released a series of requirements that keepers of birds will have to abide by until the rules are changed again.
These include housing or netting all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds, to cleanse and disinfect clothing before and after contact with the birds and keeping disinfectant at entry and exit points.
Keepers are also told to minimise movement of people and equipment in areas with birds to reduce the chance of contamination from manure, slurry and other products.
Further to this, mass gatherings of birds such as poultry have been banned for the time being.
The new rules are expected to be kept under regular review.
People are advised not to pick up or touch any dead birds they find. Instead they should report them to the national Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Bird keepers who suspect disease should call the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301