Poultry keepers are being warned that they must take action to protect their birds following an outbreak of avian flu across Europe.
Hartlepool Council public protection officials at say owners must adopt control measures following the government’s decision to create an “Avian Influenza Prevention Zone” across the UK.
This means that all chickens, hens, ducks, geese and turkeys should, where practicable, be housed indoors or at least kept separate from wild birds.
For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds where housing is less practicable, keepers must take steps to keep them separate from wild birds.
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several European countries.
Whilst no cases of the virus - which is said to pose a very low threat to human health - have been reported in the UK, the prevention zone has been introduced as a precaution and will remain in place until January 6.
Jane Kett, environmental health manager at Hartlepool Council, 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.”
For more information, visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu or call Hartlepool Council on: 01429 523352.