A NEW case of Avian Influenza has been confirmed in a flock of free-range hens on a commercial premises in Dumfries and Galloway.

All birds at the premises near Gretna have since been humanely culled and a three kilometre Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone has been in place since Saturday, November 4, in order to limit the further spread of the disease

Within these zones, there are restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure, and restrictions on bird gatherings.

A reminder has been issued to producers and bird keepers to comply with the order to house birds, which came into effect on November 29, or to ensure their birds are kept separate from wild birds.

In light of outbreaks across the UK and high numbers of findings among wild bird populations, the risk of incursion of highly pathogenic avian influenza HPAI H5 infection in wild birds has increased to high. The risk of poultry and captive bird exposure to HPAI H5 across Great Britain has been raised to medium where biosecurity is sub-optimal, and remains at low where stringent biosecurity measures are applied.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon commented: “With the recent disease confirmations in wild and captive birds across the UK, it is not unexpected for avian influenza to be found in birds here in Scotland. We ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds to Defra’s national telephone helpline. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find.”

Read more: Warning issued to bird keepers following Avian Influenza development in NI

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas added: “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,” she urged. “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.”

She added that any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species (including gulls) in the same location at the same time, should be reported to Defra’s national telephone helpline which can be reached on 03459 33 55 77 then selecting option number 7.

“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,” she concluded.

Members of the public are reminded that Avian influenza is in no way connected to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry or captive birds.