Winter migrations up AI risk

Poultry keepers are being urged to review biosecurity after the Animal and Plant Health Agency identified an increased risk of avian influenza from migratory wild birds.

In its latest briefing, Dr Helen Roberts said there was a ‘medium’ risk of infected wild birds being found in the UK. The threat to individual poultry businesses remained low, but was dependent upon the precautions taken. Seasonal fattening farms were identified as particularly vulnerable.

The late-October update reported outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of AI in poultry in Italy and Bulgaria. An infected duck found near to the Netherlands border in Germany was a particular concern, said Dr Roberts.

“Given the likely migration routes to the UK, the risk level for wild birds has been raised,” she said. “We recommend increased levels of biosecurity, particularly for seasonal fattening farms.”

“All poultry keepers should review their biosecurity and business continuity plans now, as risk levels may well increase,” said NFU adviser Aimee Mahony. She urged keepers to familiarise themselves with reporting guidelines.

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