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Avian Influenza Update 20/2...
Author: Peter BryantTitle: Avian Influenza Update 20/2
Date: 2006-02-20 21:43:10Uploaded by: webmaster
DEFRA has continually stated that the present AI threat is a ‘dynamic one’, i.e. it is one that can change and change quickly. Nothing was more apparent as the events over the weekend unfolded with new AI outbreaks recorded and confirmed in France and other parts of Europe. DEFRA ministers have advised the UK poultry keepers to remain vigilant and don’t panic at this stage. Unlike some other western European countries they have not insisted on a lock in of poultry and other domestic birds.

I think it is worth recapping one or 2 points about avian influenza. Firstly the research that was collated by pigeon vets and used to encourage DEFRA to change their rigid stance on racing pigeon events is quite clear. Dr Pascal Lanneau has clearly stated that;

“Although the pigeons are very resistant to the Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI), there is a chance that they become infected with the High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI, H5N1); this is confirmed by recent research. This means that we have to be careful in this matter concerning the outbreak of the AI. Pigeons don’t play a very important role in the transmission of the AI, but not important doesn’t mean that they don’t play a role at all”.

In a nutshell then, the AI that is currently in France is the HPAI variant and could be caught by racing pigeons. If the disease does arrive in the UK there will be a DEFRA order for all poultry and domestic bird keepers to contain their birds. This will mean, as in France at present, no flying out and of course no racing. So as not to dampen all your hopes Ben Bradshaw did say yesterday on radio that restrictions would be put in place 3kms around any infected location and security measures would take place. This did happen last August when a bout of Newcastle Disease was found in Surrey at a pheasant farm. The farm was closed, the birds were destroyed, the outbreak was contained and within a few weeks the all clear was given. Most people didn’t even know that this outbreak had occurred. I would suggest that for the time being continental racing looks very unlikely but there is no reason at this juncture to think that we will not be able to race within the UK. Obviously this will depend on ‘the dynamic situation’.

It is worth I think reminding ourselves of the biosecurity measures that will help keep AI away from your loft :
  • Keep bird feed and any standing drinking water free from contamination by wild birds and other animals. This might mean feeding and watering undercover. Look out for signs of disease. Visit the avian influenza homepage at www.defra.gov.uk for disease facts.
  • Make sure your premises are tidy and clean. Spilled feed, litter and standing water attract wild birds and vermin.
  • Keep your birds separate from wild birds, waterfowl, pets and other animals. Control vermin.
  • Keep visitors and their vehicles away from your birds as far as possible. If they must have access, make sure vehicles and equipment are clean.
  • Make sure your clothes, footwear and hands are clean, before and after contact with birds. Any essential visitors should do the same.
  • Avoid sharing equipment. If you do have to share, make sure it is cleansed and disinfected before and after use.
  • Buy feed from a mill or supplier that operates in accordance with DEFRA and Agricultural Industries Confederation Codes of Practice. Supply clean, fresh drinking water.
  • Be vigilant when purchasing new stock. Use reputable sources. Isolate new birds and birds you have taken off your premises (for example, to a show).
  • If you suspect disease, act quickly and consult your vet. Avian influenza and Newcastle disease are notifiable diseases and must be reported to your local Divisional Veterinary Manager.
Peter Bryant
General Manager



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