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'Poultry' Keepers Urged to Plan Ahead...
Author: DEFRA News Release 08/11/2005Title: 'Poultry' Keepers Urged to Plan Ahead
Date: 2005-11-08 13:58:16Uploaded by: thefifer
Bird owners should be making plans on how their birds could be moved indoors at short notice,should it be necessary, Debby Reynolds, the Goverments chief vet said today.

As part of the government's current programme to reduce the risks posed by avian influenza British bird owners would be required wherever practicable to move their birds indoors as soon as possible if a case of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza were found in Great Britain, in cases where housing is not practicable the keeper will be required to take all reasonable measures to minimise contact with wild birds.

These requirements would be invoked as a precautionary measure to avoid spread of the disease whikle an outbreak is investigated.They have been adopted in the light of growing evidence that wild birds may carry the highly pathogenic form of avian onfluenza. As information about the sourse and nature of any outbreak became available, the Government's strategy would be to lift or reduce the requirements as soon as appropriate.

Defra also published its latest Qualitative Risk Assessment (QRA) today which is updated on a regular basis.

Dr. Reynolds said.
"We have studied this risk assessment carefully, our latest assessment is that there is a high risk of further global geographic spread of avian flu in birds. The risk to the UK can be described as "an increased but still low likelihood of imminent introduction of H5N1 to the UK.

All of us - Government and the poultry industry - need to be prepared.

"Defra has its own contingency plans which we will activate immediately should a case be confirmed in the UK. We keep those plans constantly under review to meet the changing threat, and we are amending them in light of this latest risk assessment.

"We also recognise the challenge that organic and free range producers would face if their birds needed to be housed indoors. We are working with the European Commission to find ways of protecting the status of their products if that were to happen.

"But we cannot tackle this problem effectively on our own - we need poultry producers to play their part.

"So we want all poultry keepers to think in advance about the steps they can take to minimise disease risk in the event of an outbreak. We are currently consulting stakeholders on what measures are practicable for free range and small flock keepers - to meet a requirement to minimise contact between poultry and wild birds. Guidance resulting from this consultation will be published at the end of this month. We will also discuss with stakeholders the steps which would enable an investigation into an outbreak to lead to the lifting of the housing requirement.

"Meanwhile it is important that biosecurity measures on farms continue to be strengthened. Looking after the health and welfare of their flocks should be a normal part of all poultry keepers practices in particular we strongly advise that poultry owners should feed and water their birds indoors.

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