Wales veterinary chief stresses need for winter vigilance over avian flu

The agricultural sector in Wales has been warned to maintain the highest levels of biosecurity and hygiene to protect flocks and stay vigilant for any signs of avian flu as winter approaches.

Avian flu has continued to affect wild birds over the summer in the UK and across Europe, but the winter migration period brings a heightened risk to kept birds.

Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales Dr Richard Irvine said: “Rigorous and scrupulous hygiene and biosecurity measures offer the best protection for kept birds against avian influenza. Whether keepers have a few birds or a thousand, it is vital the very highest standards of biosecurity are maintained at all times.”

“Vigilance is also key. It’s important you report any signs or suspicion of avian influenza in your flock immediately.

“I’d like to thank bird keepers for their efforts to date in keeping their birds safe. As we enter the autumn and winter months it is now more important than ever to maintain the very highest levels of biosecurity and stay vigilant.”

Advice for keepers of poultry and captive birds on how to keep their flocks safe is available on the Welsh Government’s website, including the biosecurity self-assessment checklist. There is a checklist to help owners of small poultry flocks keep their birds free of disease, and one for commercial keepers at gov.wales/biosecurity-and-preventing-disease-poultry-and-kept-birds

France is leading the risk management charge here. some 60 million ducks are to be vaccinated in the country over the next year as the country embarks on a campaign to combat the virus.

France’s first 80 million doses will come from German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, meaning the government will have to invite tenders for more supply.

In Europe’s only mass-vaccination campaign against avian flu, the two-jab course is obligatory for ducklings, from as young as 10 days old, on farms raising more than 250 birds.

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