Defra Introduce Bird Flu Prevention Zone in England

Bird Flu

On 18 January 2018, Defra introduced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in England. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

This comes as H5N6 bird flu was confirmed in 13 wild birds in Warwickshire, a few days after bird flu - highly expected to be the same strain - was found in wild birds in South Dorset on 12 January 2018.

Defra have introduced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone which applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England. All keepers must follow detailed legal requirements on strict biosecurity, whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock. Link best practice biosecurity advice.

Read more about the current risks in our latest veterinary outbreak assessment.

See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu for latest information.

Public Health England advises that the threat to human health is very low and as such the Prevention Zones do not prevent officials accessing premises to undertake regulatory visits.


Reporting and handling dead wild birds

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese, or ducks) or gulls, or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on

03459 33 55 77 or by emailing defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

The public should not handle birds, however below is some guidance on how do so.

  1. Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands
  2. If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available see 7)
  3. Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
  4. Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag
  5. Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
  6. Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water
  7. If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied, and disposed of in the normal household waste
  8. Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
  9. Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
  10. Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.


Signs of the Avian Influenza disease

The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces and poultry affected may show the following symptoms:

  • swollen head

  • blue discolouration of neck and throat

  • loss of appetite

  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling

  • diarrhoea

  • fewer eggs laid increased mortality

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.


How to report possible non compliance of the AI Prevention Zone:

This need to be reported to Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service by calling 01392 381381 or e-mail tssecure@devon.gcsx.gov.uk


Information required:

  • Owner/Keeper if known.

  • Map Reference/Address of the loose poultry or as much detail on the location as possible to enable us to locate them.

  • Any other relevant details

19th January 2018