UK declares freedom from bird flu

The UK has self-declared freedom from highly pathogenic avian influenza

The UK has self-declared freedom from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) for Great Britain with effect from 29 March 2024.

The declaration has been reviewed and published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).  This follows Northern Ireland’s declaration of freedom on 31 March 2023.

The UK faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 360 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021.

We have had no recent cases of avian influenza in kept birds with the last case confirmed on 14 February 2024.

The current risk to poultry from HPAI H5 in Great Britain is low. However, HPAI H5N1 continues to be found at low levels in wild birds in Great Britain and across Europe with outbreaks occurring in poultry and other captive birds in several countries in Europe.

Keepers should remain vigilant and practice stringent biosecurity to protect the health and welfare of their birds. Find out how to protect your birds in our biosecurity guidance

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find and instead report them using the online reporting system or by calling the Defra helpline.

The UKHSA advise that the available evidence suggests viruses currently circulating in birds in the UK do not spread easily to people and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs.

From: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs