North Lincolnshire Council is asking residents who keep birds, such as chickens and ducks, to take some simple precautions to protect them against a possible outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, this winter.
Bird flu is a disease that affects poultry, including chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. It is more common in the winter months due to the migration of wild birds. Although there have not been any confirmed cases in North Lincolnshire in recent years, neighbouring counties have been affected. A confirmed outbreak can be devastating, with infected birds having to be culled and exclusion zones put in place. Last year, many birds had to be kept indoors.
The virus has a very low risk to human health and is not a food safety risk, but it can be transferred easily from bird to bird, or via the environment, for example, through bird droppings, contaminated feed or by dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear.
To reduce the risk of birds becoming infected, keepers should:
Immediately remove spilled feed
Feed and water birds under cover so feeding areas do not attract or become contaminated by wild birds
Keep ducks and geese separate from chickens and other poultry
Regularly clean and disinfect hard areas that birds can access, such as paths
Clean footwear before and after visits to enclosures
Be prepared to house birds at short notice – identify buildings or consider temporary enclosures for this in advance
Councillor Richard Hannigan, cabinet member for Safer, Greener and Cleaner Places said: “Anyone who keeps birds has an important role in preventing an outbreak of bird flu. An outbreak of the disease in a backyard flock can be just as serious as on a commercial farm. Please follow the simple advice provided by our trading standards team and contact them if you have any questions.
“I also encourage all local bird keepers to register their flock with us, however small, so we can promptly inform you in the event of an outbreak in North Lincolnshire. Visit www.northlincs.gov.uk/animalhealth to do this.”
For more information visit the bird flu pages on Gov.uk, www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu, or call North Lincolnshire Council Trading Standards on 01724 297664.