People who keep birds and poultry must keep them indoors to limit the spread of avian influenza.
Commonly known as bird flu, avian influenza is a disease which is currently affecting the health of birds across the UK. Over the last year, there have been more than 200 confirmed cases, making this the largest outbreak ever experienced in the country.
Although there have been no reports of the disease being found in Calderdale birds at this time, strict preventative measures have been introduced across the country to prevent any further spread.
It is now a legal requirement that bird keepers across the UK must keep all their captive birds (including pet chickens and ducks) indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures. This includes using footwear sanitising dips, changing footwear and reducing the number of people entering a premise or poultry housing.
There is very little risk to humans from bird flu, but anyone coming into contact with or keeping poultry should continue to follow simple hygiene measures such as regularly washing hands and other exposed areas. This reduces the risk of transmission and mitigates any harm to those who have come into close contact with poultry.
Calderdale Council will continue to work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to ensure that the strict safety rules are being followed and apply appropriate enforcement action if necessary. Failure to comply with the housing measures set by DEFRA could result in a fine.
The Council is reminding people to remain alert for any signs of the disease and to report suspected cases immediately via the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline: 03000 200 301.
If any bird flu cases are found in the borough, the Council will work with partners and bird owners to apply measures to prevent any further spread of the disease.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Cllr Jenny Lynn, said:
“These additional restrictions have been introduced due to the increase in confirmed cases of bird flu across the country and as a preventative measure to reduce the spreading of the disease by wild birds.
“Although thankfully there have been no confirmed cases in Calderdale at this time, it’s vital that people who keep birds and poultry now keep them housed to protect our bird population. In line with DEFRA guidance, appropriate enforcement action will be taken if these measures are not implemented.
“We understand that housing birds may be difficult, especially for those birds who are not used to being kept indoors, but it’s so important. There’s lots of advice available online to ensure owners know how to responsibly care for their birds when they’re housed indoors:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bird-flu-avian-influenza-housing-your-birds-safely(external link).”
Further information on how to help prevent the spread of avian influenza is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu(external link)