AN AVIAN Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across Scotland following a number of cases of bird flu in England and mainland Europe.

The new measures introduce stringent biosecurity measures for all bird keepers to help prevent the spread of avian influenza from wild birds or any other source and are in response to cases of a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 which is causing high mortality in poultry and wild birds across the continent.

H5N8 is the same strain that infected a poultry farm in Cheshire earlier this month, and which has been found recently in Germany and the Netherlands.

Read more - Bird flu warning issued to poultry keepers

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “We have declared a Prevention Zone as a precautionary measure to protect Scotland’s poultry industry. I urge all bird keepers to maintain and strengthen their farm biosecurity measures in order to help prevent an outbreak of avian influenza in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government and its partners continue to monitor the situation in in England and in Europe closely and stand ready to respond to any suspicion of disease in Scotland. Any bird keepers who have concerns should immediately seek veterinary advice.”

The measures will be kept under review and will be adjusted to reflect the risks. A similar zone has also been declared in England and Wales.

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas added: “The risk of an HPAI incursion into poultry in the UK was very recently raised from low to ‘medium’, although for wild birds the risk has been raised from ‘medium’ to ‘high’. It is normal to see these viruses circulating among wild bird populations at this time of year, however the strain seen in Europe appears to be particularly virulent which is a cause for some concern.

“Consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry given the expert advice about food safety and human health.”

Advice has been issued to all bird keepers - whether they are running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in their back garden, or rearing game birds – to help protect their birds against the threat of avian flu in the coming winter months.

These include:

• Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly cleansing and disinfecting any hard surfaces;

• Cleaning footwear before and after visits;

• Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly;

• Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl;

• Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.

The last UK avian influenza outbreak of H5N8 was confirmed at a premises near Frodsham in Cheshire, where all 13,000 birds were culled and 3km and 10km temporary control zones were put in place around the infected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

There have also been a number of confirmed reports of avian influenza in wild birds including geese and swans in the Netherlands and north of Germany in recent weeks. These wild birds are all on the waterfowl flyway from breeding grounds in western Russia, where the H5N8 strain was reported in poultry in mid-October.

If you suspect any type of avian influenza you must report it immediately as failure to do so is an offence. You can report suspected or confirmed cases in Scotland by contacting your local Field Services Office.

More advice and regular updates on the latest situation is available on the Scottish Governments’ avian flu site at