The Scottish Government has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in response to spread of H5N8 in Europe.
The Prevention Zone applies to all of Scotland and will be in place for 30 days.
This precautionary step has been taken in response to multiple reports of a strain of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 causing high mortality in wild birds in mainland Europe, mostly affecting waterfowl. There have been no cases of this strain detected in the UK.
Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said
The risk of an HPAI incursion into poultry in the UK remains at ‘low, but heightened’, although for wild birds the risk has been raised to ‘medium’. 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.
Keeping birds indoors helps to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, provided that poultry keepers maintain good biosecurity on their premises and remain vigilant for any signs of disease.
Consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry given the expert advice about food safety and human health.
Ian McWatt, Director of Operations at Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said
At present there is no public health risk from the consumption of eggs or poultry in relation to avian influenza. In order to keep birds safe from the virus, FSS would like to reiterate that extra caution should be taken during this period. FSS will continue to work with SG and other partners and we will be ready to respond quickly should the situation change.
Bird keepers across Scotland are now are legally obliged to take all practicable steps to ensure that poultry and other captive birds kept separate from wild birds – in most cases this will be by keeping birds housed.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing said:
We have declared a 30-day Prevention Zone as a precautionary measure to protect Scotland’s valuable poultry industry, particularly in the weeks before Christmas. It is important to stress that there has been no cases of this strain detected in the UK.
The Scottish Government and its partners continue to monitor the situation 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.
More information about avian flu and advice about biosecurity is available on the Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza