Poultry keepers in Hartlepool have been told to continue to be vigilant to help prevent the spread of bird flu in the UK.
Following an outbreak across Europe, the Government introduced an ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’ last month.
Anyone who keeps poultry such as chickens, ducks and geese, even as pets, must take action to stop it coming into contact with wild birdsJane Kett
It had initially been put in place until January 6, but has now been extended until February 28.
All keepers of poultry or other captive birds must keep them indoors, and take whatever steps necessary to keep them away from wild birds.
Jane Kett, environmental health manager at Hartlepool Borough Council, said all possible precautions should be taken.
She said: “Anyone who keeps poultry such as chickens, ducks and geese, even as pets, must take action to stop it coming into contact with wild birds.
“Birds should be moved into a suitable building, or if that isn’t possible owners must take sensible precautions to keep them away from wild birds, like putting up netting to create a temporary enclosure and keeping food and water supplies inside where they cannot be contaminated by wild birds.
“Even when birds are kept indoors a risk of infection remains, so keepers must also practice good bio-security by, for example, disinfecting footwear and equipment and washing clothing after contact with birds.”
In December, when the zone was first introduced, she said: “Poultry keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
“Clinical signs that poultry keepers should look for in their birds include a swollen head, discolouration of neck and throat, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and fewer eggs laid – although these vary between species of bird.”
Public Health England says that the risk posed to public health remains very low, and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for consumers in the UK.
When the zone was first brought in on December 6, it came following outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) in poultry and wild birds in several European countries.
There have since been cases in the UK, most notably in South Wales.
More information on the outbreak, and the precautions which should be taken, can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu or by calling Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards team on 01429 523352.