A FLOCK of kept birds on a gamebird rearing premises in Leven, Glenrothes, has tested positive for avian influenza (H5N1).

In order to limit the further spread of disease, appropriate restrictions have been imposed on the premises.

The remaining birds at the premises have been culled and three kilometre and 10 kilometre temporary control zones have been set up around the infected premises, restricting movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure.

Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.

Producers and bird keepers have been reminded to comply with the order to house birds that came in to effect on the December 14, 2020, or ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and follow biosecurity procedures.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Ben Macpherson said: “The Scotland-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone remains in force. Whether you have just a few birds or thousands of birds, you are legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We continue to ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds.”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: “We are conducting further tests to establish the pathogenicity of avian influenza H5N1 in a flock of birds in Leven, Glenrothes.

“We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch to protect their birds from disease and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds. Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately. Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to provide practical advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.

“Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, falcons or other birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, should be reported to the Defra dead wild bird helpline.”

Speaking from St David's Game Bird Services, vet Matt Balfour offered some advice to the sector: "Biosecurity should be maintained at a high standard and special care made to prevent dirty water run off entering pens. 

"Clinical signs in pheasants have included rapidly developing high mortality and neurological signs. Bear in mind that other game species may show different symptoms. 

"Historically as migratory waterfowl leave and the weather warms we have seen a decline in Avian Influenza cases within poultry flocks. However, it should always be considered a risk and every effort made to maintain high biosecurity standards throughout the rearing season.”