doc

The UK is free from Avian Influenza (AI) but the government has reiterated calls for all poultry keepers to remain vigilant for signs of the disease as there is a "real and constant threat".

The disease continues to circulate in Europe and as winter approaches the risk of migratory wild birds infecting domestic poultry will rise.

Chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: "I urge all keepers to be vigilant – there is a constant risk of avian flu from wild birds and this is likely to increase as winter approaches, temperatures fall, and migratory birds arrive in the UK.

"All poultry keepers should take steps to reduce the risk to their birds, such as cleaning footwear, feeding birds indoors, and minimising contact with wild birds. Building these simple actions into routines now can help prepare for any future outbreaks."

Declaring the UK free from AI means trade discussions on UK poultry and poultry products can restart with existing and potential new trading partners.

Between December 2016 and June 2017, 13 cases of AI were confirmed in kept poultry in the UK. In all cases, movement restrictions were put in place to limit the spread of disease and investigations into the source and possible spread of infection were carried out. The government also introduced UK-wide measures to protect poultry from infection from wild birds, including a requirement to temporarily house birds and a ban on bird gatherings.

The UK was previously declared free of Avian Flu in April 2016 but the disease returned in December that year.