Bird flu prevention rules extended after disease spreads
Measures to protect Scottish poultry extended after more cases of Avian Influenza found in Wales and parts of England
Chickens - fotolia
Scottish birds are to continue to be kept indoors until the end of February to protect them from potential exposure to bird flu from wild birds, it has been announced.
The move follows the discovery of cases in a backyard flock in South Wales.
Cases were also found at a Turkey farm in Lincolnshire on 16 December, and it has been detected in wild birds across the UK.
The Scottish Government has followed the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in extending the restrictions to February 28.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing described it as a precautionary measure.
“Confirmation of the arrival of the virus throughout the UK, highlights how essential it is that bird keepers comply with the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, as well as continuing to practice and improve, where possible, their biosecurity measures," he said.
“We and our partners continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to respond to any suspicion of disease in Scotland."
The H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza has been circulating in Europe for several weeks, it is a different strain than that found at a farm in Dunfermline last January.
It is thought an outbreak would devastate the poultry industry.
Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said owners and the public should be "vigilant" for signs of the disease in birds.
“Housing your birds is a precautionary step that can reduce the likelihood of infection, but it is absolutely vital that keepers take steps to improve their biosecurity to protect their birds from disease. The cleansing and disinfection of footwear, clothing or equipment after contact with birds is one example," she said.
“Owners of backyard flocks and captive birds should also consider ways they can improve their biosecurity, as well as taking reasonable and practicable steps to separate their birds from wild birds."
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