Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in winter 2017 to 2018 

Avian Influenza (bird flu) is a disease of birds, has been identified in wild birds in England in 2018. All poultry keepers should review their biosecurity, sign up for disease alerts, and register their birds with APHA. Keepers must report any unexplained deaths or sickness to their vet.

Public Health England advises the risk to public health from H5N8 and H5N6 Avian Inflenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that the disease poses no food safety risk for UK consumers.

On 18th January 2018, DEFRA introduced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in England. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity meaures.

This was introduced after HN56 was identified in wild birds in two seperate locations - South Dorset and Warwickshire.

The new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England. All keepers must follow the detailed legal requirements on strict biosecurity, whether they have commerical flocks or just a few birds in a backgarden flock. 

Best Practice Biosecurity Advice 

If you keep poultry or other captive birds, you must take action to reduce the risk of disease in your flock by following government advice on biosecurity.

Good biosecurity improved the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases such as avian influenza and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak.


This applies just as much if you only have a few birds as pets, or if you have a large commercial flock. An outbreak of bird flu in back garden chickens results in the same restrictions on movement of birds. It has the same impact on farmers and trade in poultry as an outbreak on commercial farm.

To ensure good biosecurity, all poultry keepers should : -

  • Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
  • clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a DEFRA approved disinfectant at entrances and exits.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry
  • keep areas where birds live clean and tidy and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
  • humanely control rats and mice
  • place birds food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly
  • keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access
  • keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet.

Register your birds

We encourage all keepers to register their birds with DEFRA so they can contact you quickly if there is an disease outbreak in your area and you need to take action.

If you have more than 50 birds, you are legally required to register your flock within one month of their arrival at your premises.


Report Signs of Disease

You must keep a close watch on your birds for any sign of disease, and must seek prompt advice from your vet if you have any concerns. If you suspect any type of avian influenza you must report it immediately by calling the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.


Sign up for free online to receive alerts on any outbreaks of bird flue and register your birds on GOV.UK